The remains of an ancient temple buried beneath a residential street has been accidentally unearthed in Egypt.
The base of columns, limestone blocks engraved with hieroglyphs, and a statue fragment were among the treasures taken from the 3,400-year-old site.
But its discovery was hit by controversy when seven men were arrested for carrying out an illegal excavation in the Giza town.
Egyptian police revealed that the seven men reportedly started digging in the back garden of the Al-Badrashin property two weeks ago, but ran into problems when the hole started to fill with water.
This led to neighbours calling the police, who raided the property and arrested the amateur archaeologists.
The group was held briefly before being released, after the authorities said the site was not an official archaeological area, and it had not previously been known to contain items of archaeological significance.
Experts then examined the remains and confirmed the site, situated 25 miles (40km) south of Cairo, was indeed located above an ancient temple.
Antiquities police spokesman Major General Momtaz Fathi said: ‘There is no doubt this is a major discovery and there is also no doubt there is a lot more still to be found.’
Trained archaeologists have now moved in, declaring it an official archaeological zone, and have so far recovered seven large limestone blocks engraved with hieroglyphic inscriptions in ‘excellent quality’.
They also found the basis of several columns, and a statue fragment said to be around six feet (1.8 metres) high, carved out of pink granite.
A spokesman for the Egyptian antiquities police added the statue appeared to be a person seated, and the team were hoping to find more fragments.
The presence of these artefacts suggests the temple was built under the reign of Egypt’s most successful ruler, King Thuthmose III, who reigned between 1479 and 1425 BC.
The reign of Thuthmose III is considered a golden age in Egyptian history.
The stepson and nephew of pharaoh Hatshepsut, Thuthmose III was technically pharaoh from the age of two.
In practise he didn’t rule until Hatshepsut died 22 years after they ascended to the throne, but ruled for a further 32 years after Hatshepsut’s death.
Under his reign, the Egypt empire reached its greatest extent, from northern Syria to the Fourth Cataract of the Nile in Nubia.
The items have been taken away for restoration and further study, and the area has now been declared an archaeological site.
It is now under the control of the ministry in order to carry out more surveys nearby to unearth more of the temple.