Marcus Aurelius Bust Found in Egyptian Temple Ruins

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April 23, 2018

Egyptian archaeologists have found a bust of Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor known as much for his philosophical writings as for his conquests.

The team were working to protect the Temple of Kom Ombo from groundwater when they found the bust. Similar work in 2017 uncovered a sandstone carving that contained the name and face of Philip Arrhidaeus, who succeeded Alexander the Great as leader of Macedon.

Earlier digs have found more than 300 crocodile mummies; many of those are on display at the nearby Crocodile Museum.

Temple of Kom Ombo

The Temple of Kom Ombo is rather unusual in that it was dedicated to two gods. In effect, it is a complex consisting of two parallel temples. The northern half of the Greco-Roman temple was dedicated to the falcon god Horus; the southern half was dedicated to the crododile god Sobek. Among the engravings inside the temple are what are thought to be the first known Egyptian depiction of medical instruments. Horus was also believed to be a doctor.

Construction on the temple begin in the 4th Century B.C. and continued for decades thereafter. The temple is near a small Nile River town of the same name, about 45 kilometers (27 miles) north of Aswan and about 800 kilometers (497 miles) south of Cairo.

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius was Emperor of Rome from A.D. 161 to A.D. 180. He is known as the last of the "Five Good Emperors." An adherent to the philosophy of Stoicism, he became famous for an untitled work that has come to be called Meditations. Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities said that discoveries of items associated with Marcus Aurelius in Egypt were rare.

Egypt was part of the Eastern Roman Empire that survived the fall of Rome and remained part of that empire's successor, the Byzantine Empire, until the 7th Century A.D., when Muslim armies completed their conquest of the Nile civilization.

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