Ancient Origins Tour IRAQ

Ancient Origins Tour IRAQ Mobile

One of the newly discovered sarcophagi

2,000-Year-Old Tombs and Sarcophagi Uncovered in Hidden Burial Chambers in Egypt


A team of archaeologists has discovered three tombs dating back 2,000 years in southern Egypt. The three new discoveries in El-Kamin El-Sahrawi point to a large cemetery covering the 27th Dynasty and the Greco-Roman period.

Millennia Old Tombs Discovered

The Ministry of Antiquities of Egypt announced yesterday that three rock-hewn tombs from the Ptolemaic era have been unearthed during excavations in the El-Kamin El-Sahrawi area as Ahram Online reports. An Egyptian archaeological mission from the Ministry of Antiquities working in the area to the south-east of the town of Samalout, was the one making the important discovery and according to their reports the tomb contain several sarcophagi and a collection of clay fragments.

Ayman Ashmawy, head of the ministry's Ancient Egyptian Sector, stated as Ahram Online reports that after the close examination of the clay fragments, the team of archaeologists and experts concluded that the tombs date between the 27th Dynasty, founded in 525BC, and the Greco-Roman era, which began in 332BC. "This fact suggests that the area was a large cemetery over a long period of time," Ashmawy said.

One of the recently discovered burial chambers (Photo: Nevine El-Aref)

Discovery of Great Importance

Ashmawy described the discovery as "very important" due to the fact that it will shed light on many things we previously didn’t know about the El-Kamil El-Sahrawi archaeological site. Ashmawy also added that during previous excavation works, the archaeological team unearthed nearly twenty tombs that were built in the catacomb architectural style, which covers a vast period starting from the 27th Dynasty (also known as First Egyptian Satrapy) and the Greco-Roman era. “The three newly discovered tombs have a different architectural design from the previous ones,” Ali El-Bakry, head of the excavation mission, told Ahram Online.

According to Ali El-Bakry’s reports, the first tomb is composed of a perpendicular burial shaft engraved in rock and leading to a burial chamber containing four sarcophagi which had been carved with human faces. Nine burial holes were also discovered inside. The second tomb is composed of a perpendicular burial shaft as well and two burial chambers. The first chamber is positioned to the north and runs from east to west, “with the remains of two sarcophagi, suggesting that it was for the burial of two people,” Ali El-Bakry tells Ahram Online.

Burial of a Small Child Discovered for the First Time in the Area

The archaeological mission also discovered a collection of six burial holes, including one of a small child. “These tombs were part of a large cemetery for a large city and not a military garrison as some suggest. This was the first time to find a burial of a child at the Sahrawi site,” Ali El-Bakry said as Independent reports, pointing out that human remains and other evidence indicate the presence of men, women and children of different ages being buried there. Furthermore, Ali El-Bakry said that the second room is located at the end of the shaft and does not contain anything of archaeological value except the remains of a wooden coffin, while excavation works at the third tomb have not yet been finished.

Burial hole and sarcophagus of a child (Photo: Nevine El-Aref)

Burial hole and sarcophagus of a child (Photo: Nevine El-Aref)

Undergoing Works to Reveal More Secrets Soon

The excavation works were officially launched in 2015 when the archaeological mission uncovered an assembly of five sarcophagi of different shapes and sizes, as well as the remains of a wooden sarcophagus. The second phase of the excavation was launched in October 2016, with five tombs being discovered during the works. As Ahram Online reported, four of them have almost identical interior designs, while the fifth consists of a burial shaft. Ultimately, Ali El-Bakry reassured that excavation works and the examination of the finds will continue intensively in order to reveal more secrets of the site’s history.

Top image: One of the newly discovered sarcophagi (Photo: Nevine El-Aref)

By Theodoros Karasavvas

Theodoros Karasavvas's picture


Theodoros Karasavvas, J.D.-M.A. has a cum laude degree in Law from the University of Athens, a Masters Degree in Legal History from the University of Pisa, and a First Certificate in English from Cambridge University. When called upon to do... Read More

Next article