New Necropolis Containing at Least Seventeen Mummies Unearthed in Egypt
Archaeologists have discovered nearly 20 mummies in a complex of catacombs in Minya province, south of Cairo. The ancient artifacts were reportedly found at the Tuna Al-Gabal site at the city in Upper Egypt and it is believed that they date from the Late Period.
Necropolis Found Unexpectedly
Experts from the Faculty of Archaeology at Cairo University have been working at the site, near the necropolis of birds and animals. They recently uncovered an ancient burial site that included at least 17 mummies, with most of them being fully intact. This is one of the latest in a long series of discoveries that the country's antiquities minister described as a hand of help from the crypt for Egypt’s struggling tourism sector.
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Tuna Al-Gabal is a lesser-known archaeological site, near Upper Egypt's El-Minya, that however made headlines recently thanks to the discovery of a cachette – a term that describes an unmarked burial site used to house multiple mummies and protect them from looting – of mummies, dating from the Late Period which spanned almost 300 years up to Alexander the Great's conquest of Egypt in 332 BC. However, a spokeswoman, according to Telegraph, stated that they could also date from the Ptolemaic Dynasty, founded by Alexander the Great's general Ptolemy.
According to the mission’s head Salah El-Kholi as Ahram Online reports, the cachette includes seventeen non-royal mummies wrapped in linen that are in a very good condition. The necropolis was discovered accidentally through a radar survey conducted in collaboration with experts from the university's faculty of science in early 2016 that revealed hollow ground. El-Kholi also added that the mummies were discovered in burial shafts along with a collection of eight limestone sarcophagi, with two of them being carved in clay.
Discovery is the First of its Kind Since 1950
Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany pinpointed the significance of the discovery by stating that this is the first made in the area since the discovery of the birds and animals necropolis by Egyptologist Sami Gabra between 1931 and 1954. This discovery comes in a long string of recent finds at sites across Egypt, which makes Antiquities Minister Khaled Al-Anani believing that 2017 has been really generous with archaeologists in Egypt, “2017 has been a historic year for archaeological discoveries. It's as if it's a message from our ancestors who are lending us a hand to help bring tourists back," told a news conference announcing the find on Saturday as Reuters reports.
Furthermore, El-Kholi stated that both clay sarcophagi are anthropoid coffins, one of which is well-preserved while the other is partially damaged. Two papyri written in Demotic and decorated with gold in the shape of a feather were also discovered ate the site, "This feather could be decoration on the hair dress of one of the deceased," El- Kholi told Ahram Online and added that the papyri will soon be transported to the Grand Egyptian Museum for restoration.
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New Finds Could Boost Tourism in the Country
Additionally, the mission also unearthed at a neighboring site many Roman funerary houses made of clay where inside they found a collection of different coins, lamps and other domestic items. All these exciting new finds have made Egypt’s Tourism Minister Yehia Rashed very optimistic about the country’s tourism sector and expects more than ten million arrivals this year, an upgrade from the 9.3 million tourists that visited Egypt in 2015.
Top image: One of the newly-discovered mummies