Egypt’s oldest temple found in Suez Canal city of Alexandria

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Overlooking the pyramids, the temple is thought to have been built in the 2nd century AD

Egyptian archaeologists have discovered a 4,500-year-old sun temple in the Suez Canal city of Alexandria, which is thought to be one of the oldest in the country.

The Indus Sun Temple was found during excavations in the El Dohr area, south of the River Nile, which was once the capital of Egypt.

Archaeologists hope to put the temple’s origins to the test in testing the structure’s walls, or calcified soil that has formed part of the temple over the years.

Conservation work will start next week, but no date has been set.

In the ‘Celestial Portraits’ series, BBC World News examines the archaeological finds in Egypt that have travelled the world

The findings were unveiled at a press conference in Cairo on Saturday.

Faisal Samir, Egypt’s deputy antiquities minister for ancient antiquities, said: “The Indus Sun Temple is one of the oldest architectural discovery in Egypt and is full of artistic merit.”

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The temple is believed to have been built to honour the god Ishtar, mother of the first king of Babylon

A single block of sandstone where walls form the temple has been dated to around 2,700 BC.

In a statement, Mr Samir said the temple’s building work originated around 788 BC, and the structure itself was completed around 3,500 BC.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The Indus Sun Temple was found during excavations in the El Dohr area south of the River Nile

Prior to its discovery, the temple was thought to be one of several ancient religious centres which were built in Alexandria to honour the Indus sun god known as Seleucid Ishtar.

The temple’s presence in Alexandria is a twist on an ancient Egyptian pattern – most old temples in Cairo date back to the era of Egyptian pharaohs and were located in the city’s outskirts.

Egypt is also hoping to raise awareness about the Indus sun god by offering to look after a new celestial temple for as long as people want to help it in Cairo.

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