In 1917, British surveyor Dr. John Ball made an unusual discovery in the Libyan desert in Egypt. About 180 km south-west of the Dakhla Oases, he discovered two isolated sandstone cones jutting out of the desert sand. Both hills were covered with thousands of pottery, many broken but some still intact. The Egyptian explorer Prince Kamal el Dine Hussein named the archeological site Abu Ballas, or the “hill of pottery”.
Prince Kamal el Dine Hussein assumed that the jars were relics of fairly modern times and that the markings engraved on them belonged to Bidayate-tribes, but radiocarbon dating in the late 20th century revealed that some of the pottery are between 3,500 to 4,000 years old.
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