Cairo: Archaeologists have unearthed a Sphinx-like statue believed to be a depiction of a Roman emperor and the remains of a shrine in an ancient temple in southern Egypt.
The artefacts were found in the temple of Dendera in Qena Province, 450 kilometres south of the capital Cairo, the Antiquities Ministry said in a statement.
Archaeologists believe the statue’s smiling features may belong to Claudius, who extended Rome’s rule into North Africa between 41 and 54 AD.
The ministry said archaeologists would conduct more studies on the markings on the stone slab, which could reveal more information about the statue’s identity and the area. The statue is much smaller than the towering, well-known Sphinx in the Pyramids of Giza complex, which is 20 metres high.
The archaeologists also found a Roman-era stone slab with demotic and hieroglyphic inscriptions.
The limestone shrine includes a two-layer platform and a mud-brick basin from the Byzantine era, the ministry said.
Such discoveries are usually touted by the Egyptian government in hopes of attracting more tourists, a significant source of foreign currency for the cash-strapped North African country.