A rock inscription portraying the rare transfer of two obelisks from a quarry has been unearthed at Gebel el Silsila, Egypt’s largest sandstone quarries located to the north of Aswan.
The discovery is the result of the Gebel el Silsila Survey Project, an epigraphic survey mission of Lund University, Sweden that has been active in the site since early 2014.
Scenes depicting the phases and the technique of detaching blocks, loading them in sailing boats before sending them to their destinations through the River Nile, have been also discovered in the site.
“The work technique shows a notable cooperation among the workers and the workshops at the quarry. The scenes of the rocks, which were precisely cut, confirm the advanced skills of ancient Egyptian labor,” said Nasr Salama, director general, Aswan Antiquities Department.
Stables, several rock-cut shelters along with a sphinx, similar to those aligned at the Sphinx avenue connecting between Luxor and Karnak temples, have been discovered in the site, according to Maria Nilsson, director, Gebel el Silsila Survey Project.
“The project basically aims to document Gebel el Silsila’s epigraphic material in order to develop a database, catalogue and a topographic map for the site to have a better understanding of the area, its ancient visitors and what function and meaning the quarry marks had. The project also focuses on quarry marks and textual inscriptions carved upon the sandstone quarry faces,” said Nilsson.
Gebel Silsila is a rocky gorge between Kom Ombo and Edfu villages where the Nile narrows and high sandstone cliffs come down to the edge of the river. Several shrines were cut in the area.
General view of Gebel El Silsila Quarry: Photo courtesy the Gebel El Silsila Survey Project