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Four New Kingdom rock-hewn tombs discovered in Egypt - Elephantine Island

Four New Kingdom rock-hewn tombs discovered in Egypt

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The Ministry of Antiquities in Egypt has announced the discovery of four rock-hewn tombs on Elephantine Island in Aswan, Egypt, which date to the New Kingdom period (16 th – 11 th century BC). The finding may change the history of Elephantine Island, known to the ancient Egyptians as Abu or Yebu, a small island in the Nile River which stood on the border between Egypt and Nubia and was an excellent defensive site, as well as being well-positioned for being a cargo transfer point for river trade.

The newly discovered tombs, which were discovered by local residents, display a wide range of monuments from the prehistoric period to the Greco-Roman era, and are intricately decorated inside.

The first tomb belonged to a top official in Elephantine named User who was a prince of Elephantine during the New Kingdom. His tomb was well decorated with wall paintings depicting him in different scenes with his family and with various deities. One scene depicts User wearing leopard fur, clothing reserved only for the elite, along with five priests before an offering table.

Rock hewn tombs in egypt - elephantine island

Wall paintings inside one of the tombs. Photo credit: Nevine El-Aref

The second tomb belonged to a supervisor of the gods’ priests of Elephantine known as Ba-Nefer. His tomb is also engraved with scenes depicting him with family members and deities.

The third tomb belonged to the holder of the stamps of Upper Egypt and Elephantine ruler Amenhotep. This tomb has an elaborate façade decorated with hieroglyphic texts but without any scenes.  Its inner walls are decorated with scenes depicting the deceased with his wife, the purification priest and the field scribe.

The final tomb belonged to an Elephantine ruler named User Wadjat.

Minister of Antiquities, Mohamed Ibrahim, has revealed that early studies on the tombs' wall paintings reveal that they are dated to the New Kingdom era, which makes a very important discovery that may change the history of Elephantine Island. The tombs are currently undergoing study and restoration in order to open them to the public.

Featured image: Engravings found within one of the tombs in Aswan. Photo credit: Nevine El-Aref

By April Holloway



Clearly, the picture is of an ancient Egyptian call center.

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April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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