Archaeologists have found a 3,000-year-old “lost golden city” in Egypt, the largest ever uncovered there and the most significant archaeological discovery since Tutankhamun’s grave was discovered in 1922.

The settlement, dubbed “The Rise of Aten,” was discovered beneath the sand on Luxor’s western side, about 300 miles south of Cairo, by a group of archeologists led by Zahi Hawass.

The archaeologists have just begun to explore the large area, which was unearthed in Sept. 2020, while looking for King Tut’s mortuary temple. It is difficult to tell where this discovery ranks in Egyptological significance at this time. Nevertheless, the degree of sustainability discovered so far has amazed experts.

Several of the objects in the buildings relate to the artistic and industrial activity that sustained the pharaoh’s capital. Buildings where employees could have lived, a bakery and kitchen, objects linked to metal and glass manufacturing, administrative structures, and even a graveyard with rock-cut tombs are just a part of the rich treasure trove of relics.

The archaeologists uncovered a fantastic discovery: well-preserved mud-brick foundations that turned out to be a massive city going back to the pharaohs’ golden period 3,000 years ago.

“Within weeks, to the team’s great surprise, formations of mud bricks began to appear in all directions,” Hawass claimed.

The southern half of the town has been uncovered, but the northern part is still buried beneath the sand.

The site was built during Pharaoh Amenhotep III’s reign, who held power between 1386 and 1353 B.C. and ruled during a period of exceptional prosperity, influence, and luxury.

In the king’s co-regency with his son, Amenhotep IV, also recognized as Akhenaten, the region was bustling.

According to National Geographic, Akhenaten governed beside his queen, Nefertiti, and honored the sun. After his burial, his young son, King Tut, ascended to the throne.

The town was used by King Tut and his successor King Ay.

According to Hawass, the site, situated on the Nile River’s western bank, was once the pharaonic empire’s greatest bureaucratic and manufacturing city.

Housing lines the roads with particular walls reaching nearly 10 feet high, according to Hawass. The city stretches to the west “… to the famous Deir el-Medina,” an ancient Egyptian workmen’s settlement.

Salima Ikram, an archaeologist who heads the Egyptology group at the American University in Cairo, confirmed to National Geographic that there is no question that it’s “an incredible discovery.” 

“It’s very much a snapshot in time—an Egyptian version of Pompeii,” she added.

The identification of the Lost City, according to Dr. Betsy M. Bryan, a professor of Egyptology at John Hopkins University, “will not only provide a unique insight into the lives of Ancient Egyptians at a period when the empire was at its most prosperous but will also help solve one of history’s biggest mysteries: why did Akhenaten and Nefertiti leave the city for Amarna.

“I don’t know that we’ll get closer to answering that question through this particular city,” says Bryan. “What we will get is more and more information about Amenhotep III, Akhenaten, and their families. It’s early days, but I think we’ll see more and more connections.”