Children leave little trace in the archaeological record, so the discovery of a set of children’s footprints from 3,000 years ago is a rare delight.
On the eastern edge of the Nile Delta, archaeologists have been uncovering the remains of Pi-Ramesse, a city established between 1300 and 1100 BC as the capital of Egypt and the residence of the Pharoah Ramesses the Great.
They have been using geophysics and magnetometry to reveal huge sub-surface features which, according to Field Director Dr Henning Franzmeier, seem to be remnants of a construction site set up to renovate a monumental palace and temple complex at the site.
Among the excavated remains, the team found a mortar pit at least 2.5 x 8 metres in size. At the bottom, there was a layer of mortar, and in it a set of footprints measuring between 15 and 17 cm were clearly visible. Such tiny feet probably belonged to a toddler or child between 3 and 5 years old.
Whether it was the ancient Egyptian equivalent of a naughty child writing their name in wet cement, or whether they had something to do with making the mortar is a question that we’ll leave down to your imagination, but the team did also find something else pretty amazing.
Alongside the mortar were dozens of smashed pieces of painted wall plaster. The team haven’t yet been able to identify any motifs yet, but they were clearly very colourful. The archaeologists believe they were probably once part of a large-scale multi-coloured wall painting, possibly made with a fresco technique, which is very unusual for the time.
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