One of 12 new recently unearthed sphinxes smiles on Luxor (map), Egypt, in a picture released Monday. In a former residential neighborhood—razed for the sake of archaeology and tourism—the 2,300-year-old statues may have been the finishing touches on the Avenue of the Sphinxes, Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities announced today.
The ancient, sacred route was actually a system of canals that connected the great temples on the east bank of the Nile River at Thebes, as Luxor was then called. Long known from ancient texts but never before confirmed, the new extension of the Avenue of the Sphinxes dates to the reign of Pharaoh Nectanebo I (380 to 362 B.C.), whose name is engraved on the bases of several of the sculptures.
"Thebes was a holy place in the east, and the ancient Egyptians achieved this sacred road to facilitate the visitation of the temples," said Mansour Boraik, the antiquities council's head of excavations in Luxor.
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