Two 3,500-year-old tombs adorned with vivid paintings unearthed in Egypt

Two 3,500-year-old tombs adorned with vivid paintings unearthed in Egypt

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The American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE) and the Ministry of Antiquities in Egypt have announced the discovery of two private 18 th Dynasty tombs with beautifully painted walls near Luxor in Egypt.  Despite dating back around 3,500 years, and subjected to ancient vandalism, the tombs have retained much of their original splendour.

Entrance to one of the newly-discovered tombs near Luxor

Entrance to one of the newly-discovered tombs near Luxor

The tombs were accidently discovered by the ARCE alongside Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities during cleaning and restoration work in the archaeological site of Sheik Abd Qurna, a courtyard referred to as Theban Tomb 110, one of 415 cataloged tombs in the Theban Necropolis located on the west bank of the Nile, opposite Luxor. Sheik Abd Qurna is the most frequently visited cemetery on the Theban west bank, with the largest concentration of private tombs.

The newly-discovered tomb was found in the Valley of the Nobles

The newly-discovered tomb was found in the Valley of the Nobles / Sheikh Abd el-Qurna ( Wikimedia Commons )

The tombs belong to inhabitants of the 18th Dynasty of the New Kingdom (1543 – 1292 BC), a period in ancient Egyptian history that boasts several of Egypt's most famous pharaohs, including Tutankhamun; Hatshepsut, the longest-reigning woman-pharaoh of an indigenous dynasty;, and Akhenaten, the "heretic pharaoh", with his queen, Nefertiti.

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The first tomb, unearthed earlier this month, belongs to a man named Amenhotep, who held the position of Gatekeeper of Amun, the most widely-recorded of the Egyptian gods.

“The gatekeeper of Amun, one of several titles that were found carved at the tomb’s door lintel, is strongly believed to be a job description of an 18th Dynasty (1580 B.C.- 1292 B.C.) high official,” said Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty. “Amenhotep is the real name of the tomb owner that was found carved at the walls of the tomb,” he added.

Inside the newly-discovered tomb belonging to the 'Gatekeeper of Amun'

Inside the newly-discovered tomb belonging to the ‘Gatekeeper of Amun’

According to Damaty, Amenhotep’s tomb measures 5 meters long by 1.5 meters wide. A small side chamber of 4 square meters with a burial shaft in the middle is found inside the tomb.

Sultan Eid, Director of Upper Egypt Antiquities Department told The Cairo Post that parts of the tombs are well preserved with “dazzling scenes showing Amenhotep, along with his wife, depicted standing making an offering before several ancient Egyptian deities.”

Evidence suggests that the tomb was defaced during the religious revolution led by pharaoh Akhenaten, who set about to reform the religion of the time by transforming faith in Amun Ra to the god of Aten (the Sun Disc), thereby creating the first monotheistic religion.

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Mr Eid explained that some scenes and hieroglyphic texts, as well as the name of the god Amun, had been erased. The name of the tomb owner had also been defaced by Akhenaten’s followers as ‘Amenhotep’, literally means “Amun is pacified”.

“Figures of the solar god Amun inside the tomb were intentionally erased and demolished by the followers of the heretic Pharaoh Akhenaten (1353B.C–1336B.C), who was the first recorded monotheist on earth,” Eid told the Cairo Post.

The second tomb was uncovered east of the first tomb, and shares the same courtyard.

Live Science reports that the second tomb belongs to a man named Sa-Mut and his wife, Ta Khaeet, who are depicted in colorful scenes on the tomb’s walls.  In one section, the tomb owner is seen making an offering to a goddess nursing a royal child. Inside the tomb, archaeologists also found a hall and unfinished side chambers and shafts.

Sa-Mut and his wife, Ta Khaeet, depicted on the tomb walls

Sa-Mut and his wife, Ta Khaeet, depicted on the tomb walls

Vivid paintings inside the tomb of Sa-Mut and Ta Khaeet

Vivid paintings inside the tomb of Sa-Mut and Ta Khaeet

The two tombs are being restored and will eventually be opened to the public.

Images: Ministry of Antiquities, Egypt.

By April Holloway

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