D.C. Chapter: The Sun Temple of Niuserra: Recent Discoveries and Research on the 5th Dynasty at Abu Ghurab

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Presented by: Dr. Massimiliano Nuzzolo, Assistant Professor of Egyptology at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw

  • 12:00 PM ETWashington, D.C.
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Lecture Information

The sun temple of Niuserra at Abu Ghurab, discovered by the famous German archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt in 1898, is the only one of six such temples known from the historical sources to be largely preserved and visible today. The temple is located a few hundred meters to the north of the fifth dynasty royal necropolis of Abusir.

Although mostly unknown to the wider public, the sun temple of Niuserra is a pivotal monument for the understanding of the history of ancient Egypt since it represents one of the very first sanctuaries in pharaonic history to be dedicated exclusively to the cult of the solar god Ra.

In recent years the temple has undergone a complete re-investigation by an Italian-Polish archaeological expedition, which has provided new insights into the architecture, decoration, and symbolic meaning of the temple. Also, fieldwork conducted over the last two years has made surprising discoveries about the early phases of occupation of the site of Abu Ghurab, which may change our view of the history of fifth dynasty Egypt. This lecture will present the most prominent finds and the main results of this new research. 

Speaker Bio

Massimiliano Nuzzolo is Assistant Professor of Egyptology at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, where he is leading the “Sun Temples Project,” a multidisciplinary research endeavour funded by the National Science Center of Poland (project no. 2019/34/E/HS3/00438) and carried out in cooperation with the University of Naples L’Orientale. The project focuses on the study and re-excavation of the sun temple of Niuserra at Abu Ghurab.

Dr. Nuzzolo earned his Ph.D. in Egyptology in 2010 at L’Orientale University of Naples in Italy. He was a scientific member of the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology (IFAO) in the years 2015-16 and Research Associate at the Czech Institute of Egyptology, Charles University, Prague, in 2016-2020. His scholarship has extensively covered issues connected to development of kingship and religion during the Old Kingdom, with a particular focus on the solar cult in fifth-dynasty Egypt.