30 Mummies Including Mother Holding an Infant Discovered in 2,000-Year-Old Egyptian Tomb
The Ministry of Antiquities in Egypt has announced a major archaeological discovery in the south-east of the country. An international team has uncovered 30 Egyptian mummies that are approximately 2000 years old. The mummies include adults, children and infants and they were found in a network of burial chambers . A room full of items related to ancient funerary practices was also brought to light. This discovery is expected to help us to better understand Ancient Egypt during a crucial period of change.
The area where the discovery was made is named after the nearby Aga Khan Mausoleum, which holds the remains of an Imam revered by the Nizari Ismali sect of Islam.
There are several dozen burial sites , from various periods in this location. In the past four years the team, in this location, has “mapped about 300 tombs, 25 of which have been excavated over the last four years” according to Geek.com.
Rock Cut Tomb
While investigating a previously unexcavated area, archaeologists came across a tomb that was cut into the rock. This burial site was found concealed behind a stone wall and remarkably it had not been discovered by grave robbers . The experts entered and found that it contained one large tomb and several connected burial chambers, one tomb had been cut into the floor. A number of other rooms were also located. The experts found writing that indicated that it belonged to an individual named Tjt.
The rock-cut tomb containing more than 30 mummies at the Aga Khan Mausoleum area on Aswan West Bank in Egypt. Credit: Ministry of Antiquities
30 Egyptian Mummies
In total, some 30 mummies were found, still wrapped in linen bandages. They included the cadavers of men, women, and children. According to Newsweek they found the remains of “children tucked into a recess on one side” of the main tomb. In one area, what is believed to be a dead mother holding an infant was found. Four other mummies in a structure containing several jars still holding food were also discovered.
A great many items were found in the tomb complex. The artifacts all date to the Hellenistic and Roman period (333 BC to 300 AD). This was a time when Graeco-Roman influences were merging with the native Egyptian culture, to create syncretic religious and funerary practices .
A stretcher made from palm wood and pieces of linen, presumably for carrying mummies was also found.
They found a remarkable figurine of a Ba-Bird, which has a bird’s body and a human head. This represented the soul or non-material being of the dead person.
- Researchers identify oldest known case of heart failure in an Egyptian mummy
- 3,900-Year-Old Lost Inscriptions Surface at the Ancient Egyptian Amethyst Mines
- Art, Meds, and Fuel - The Surprising Historical Uses of Ancient Mummies
Statuette of the Ba-bird, a part-bird, part-human figurine depicting the ‘soul of the deceased,’ found inside the tomb. Credit: Ministry of Antiquities
A Funerary Workshop in the Tomb
In the same room, they also found a lot of cartonnage, material made of strips of cloth, papyrus, and layers of plaster. They also found some half-finished funerary masks . It seemed that workers made the cartouche here and fashioned it into masks and other funerary items, which were hand-painted with brightly colored symbols and designs. The team investigated the many fragments of masks and coffins in the tomb-complex and they provided invaluable information.
Fragment of painted cartonnage found inside the tomb. Credit: Ministry of Antiquities
The discovery of a series of burial chambers that are perfectly preserved is a major find. The mummies can offer new insights into burial practices and religious beliefs in the Classical period . Moreover, the workshop or storeroom is helping us to understand the funerary trade in Ancient Egypt. It is hoped that there are many more exciting finds to be made in the Aga Khan Mausoleum area in Aswan.
Top image: T wo of the mummies d iscovered in the Egyptian tomb in Aswan. Credit: Ministry of Antiquities.
By Ed Whelan