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A new king has been added to the long list of ancient pharaohs, the Egyptian Minister of State for Antiquities, Mohamed Ibrahim, announced this week.
The king's name, Senakht-en-Re, emerged from the engraved remains of a limestone door found by a French-Egyptian team in the Temple of Karnak complex on Luxor’s east bank.
The archaeologists, led by French Egyptologist Christophe Thiers, of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), unearthed a fragmented lintel and an imposing door jamb during routine excavation at the temple of Ptah.
Belonging to an administrative structure dating to the enigmatic 17th Dynasty (about 1634-1543 BC) the limestone remains featured hieroglyphics which indicated that the door was dedicated to Amun-Re.
"They also revealed who ordered the construction of this structure. It was the pharaoh Senakht-en-Re," said a CNRS statement.
Mentioned in only three documents written one or two centuries after his reign, Senakht-en-Re is regarded as one of the most obscure kings of the 17th dynasty.
No objects or monuments had ever been found bearing his name, and his tomb has yet to be discovered.
"We knew nothing of this pharaoh - until now. These remains are the first contemporary document of this king ever discovered in Egypt," the CNRS said.
According to the hieroglyphics, Senakht-en-Re had the monumental gateway built from limestone blocks transported from Tora (the modern Helwan, south of Cairo).
At that time, the town was under the rule of the Hyksos. Known as the "rulers of foreign countries" (probably of Asiatic roots), they infiltrated Egypt and came to dominate the Nile valley for over a century during the Second Intermediate Period (1664-1569 B.C.).
They were expelled from Egypt by Kamose, the last king of the 17th dynasty and his brother Amhose, the first king of the 18th dynasty.
According to the Minister of State for Antiquities, the finding is "a groundbreaking discovery" for the history of the 17th dynasty. Indeed, the succession of kings of this dynasty and the lenght of their rule remain uncertain.
Ibrahim told the Egyptian daily Ahram Online that the excavation will continue.
"The Temple of Karnak, which has not yet been fully excavated, no doubt still contains many secrets," he said.