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Researchers of the University of Barcelona and the Catalan Egyptology Society take up again excavations in Oxyrhynchus

Image of the excavations.

Image of the excavations.

Votive fish offerings.

Votive fish offerings.

06/03/2014

The archaeological mission in the ancient city of Oxyrhynchus, developed by the University of Barcelona (UB), the Catalan Egyptology Society (SCE) and the University of Montpellier, travels to Egypt on 8 March to carry out a new one-month campaign. Under the leadership of Josep Padró, emeritus professor from UB and president of SCE, the main goal of the mission is to conclude the study of the exceptional find of fish votive offerings, the only one known to date in Egypt that was discovered two years ago. Last year, the zooarchaeologist Wilm van Neer, who collaborates again in the new campaign, stated that more than 95% of the specimens found are Oxyrhynchus fish, the sacred animal of goddess Taweret that named the city.

Another priority is the excavation of the structure that surrounds votive offerings, where some stairs were discovered last year. “The find indicates that there might be a temple dedicated to Taweret, the goddess of the town, and that would explain why oxyrhynchus fish were offered”, points out Padró. “We found some structures which are not graves, so they might be temples”, he points out. “Papyri indicate that in this area there might be a serapeum, the temple of the god Serapis —the Hellenistic form of Osiris—, which may be linked with the Osirion”, explains the director of the archaeological mission. The Osireion is one of the greatest findings of Oxyrhynchus, one of the few subterranean temples dedicated to Osiris found in Egypt.

This year, an arcade is studied too. It might belong to the main street of the ancient Egypt town. “We have analysed the aerial images took last year and we have observed a rectilinear axis, but it is not seen on the ground. It links, on one hand, the necropolis with the Osireion and, on the other hand, it goes to the river, where there is an ancient pillar”. On this main street there is a great rectangular crypt with ornaments and Coptic inscriptions; this year the campaign will try to reinforce it in order to excavate. “We had to stop the works because there were dangerous; for this reason, the new campaign includes the collaboration of an engineer and the architect of the group”, highlights Padró.

 

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