In a slum in eastern Cairo, a team of archaeologists is reaching the end of a four-year dig. Finally, they begin to sift through an unremarkable pit filled with groundwater. They’re not expecting to find anything remarkable, but suddenly they strike gold – a treasure that’s been buried for three millennia.
Back in 2012, German and Egyptian archaeologists arrived in Matariya, a district of Egypt’s capital, Cairo. Historically, the area had been the site of Heliopolis, one of ancient Egypt’s major cities. Today, it is an impoverished neighborhood of the country’s bustling capital.
According to Dietrich Raue of the University of Leipzig, who led the German part of the excavation, Matariya is of particular archaeological interest. Apparently, the ancient Egyptians believed that Heliopolis was the home of the sun god. Accordingly, many important buildings were constructed there.