02 May New relevant discoveries of the ISMEO-IOS RAS mission at Abu Erteila
Two ferricrete sandstone altars still in situ were found by the Italian-Russian joint archaeological mission working at Abu Erteila (Sudan) during the tenth excavation season (November-December 2017). They are decorated and inscribed with Egyptian hieroglyphic texts. The mission has the patronage of “ISMEO – International Association for Mediterranean and Oriental Studies”, that works in continuity with the former “Istituto Italiano per l’Africa e l’Oriente (IsIAO)”, and “Institute for Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IOS RAS)”, and is recognised by the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. The two altars were aligned along the east-west axis in a lateral chapel of the local Meroitic temple, built by the co-regents Natakamani and Amanitore in the first century whose cartouches were already incised on a stand for sacred boat brought to light in the naos in the 2015 campaign. The bigger altar, that is very well preserved, was inserted in the floor, whereas the other one was supported by a mud pedestal. The making of a sandstone pavement stresses the high sacral value of the room and the significant role of these altars in the rituality of the complex. Their iconography repeats the decorations of the stand found in 2015: four incised female figures are in fact depicted with arms and palms turned in upper direction, representing the four goddesses that support the sky of the Egyptian cosmic building. Each of them is flanked by two lines of hyeroglyphic texts reporting the cartouches of the co-regents. The texts have been being actually studied by the scholars. The important discovery was warmly welcomed by the “National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums of the Sudan (NCAM)”, that grants the excavation license. The mission is led by Eugenio Fantusati with the collaboration of his deputy Marco Baldi under the sponsorship of ISMEO, and by Eleonora Kormysheva.