Monday, April 23, 2018
The ministry has denied as unfounded reports that it would remove 55 pulpits from mosques in Egypt. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.
In a statement, Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities has denied that it will remove 55 historical pulpits from Islamic mosques in Egypt, describing the reported news as unfounded.
Secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa Waziri said the ministry has not and will not remove any historical pulpits from Islamic mosques in Egypt. It only transferred the lanterns of Al-Refaie Mosque after seven of them were stolen but recovered three weeks later in January 2017.
It also removed one pulpit of Abu Bakr Mozher Mosque after parts of the metal decorations of its door were stolen a week ago.
Waziri pointed out that in January 2017 the Permanent Committee for Islamic and Coptic Antiquities decided to document all artefacts inside Islamic mosques in an attempt to protect and preserve them.
The lanterns of Al-Refaie Mosque were taken to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (NMEC), scheduled to be partly open by the end of 2018.
Sunday, April 22, 2018
New Discovery, Upper Egypt: Rare Oririan Temple and Marble Head of Marcus Aurelius Unearthed in Luxor and Aswan
Egyptian archaeologists made the surprise discoveries recently at the temples of Karnak and Kom Ombo. Wriiten By/ Nevine El-Aref.
Egyptian archaeological missions in Upper Egypt have made two rare discoveries, unearthing a marble head of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius in Aswan and an unusually positioned Osirian temple in Luxor.
The Luxor discovery was made at the southern side of Karnak Temples’ tenth pylon, with archaeologists revealing architectural elements of a Late Period shrine dedicated for god Osiris-Ptah-Neb.
The well-preserved find consists of an entrance, foundation remains, columns, inner walls and ruins of a third hall located at the eastern side. Paving stones from the shrine floor were also uncovered, along with other extension structures built during a later period.
Essam Nagy, head of the archaeological mission, described the discovery as important because the shrine is not located on the eastern or northern side of the Amun-Re temple in line with the ancient Egyptian belief. Rather, it is on the southern side, pointing to the importance of the Osirian belief at that time.
Also uncovered were a collection of clay pots, remains of statues, and a winged frame relief decorated with offering tables bearing a sheep and a goose. The relief, Nagy said, bears the name of kings Taharka and Tanut Amun, the last ruler of the 25th Dynasty.
In Aswan, meanwhile, an Egyptian mission working to reduce the subterranean water level at Kom Ombo Temple uncovered a marble head of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
Aymen Ashmawi, head of the ancient Egyptian Sector at the Ministry of Antiquities, told Ahram Online that the head depicts Emperor Aurelius with wavy hair and beard. He describes the head as "unique", saying that statues of the Roman ruler are rare. The head is now in the archaeological store, awaiting restoration and preservation work.
Monday, April 16, 2018
A collection of 122 artifacts from the King Tutankhamun collection previously housed at the Luxor Museum was successfully transported to its new home in the Grand Egyptian Museum late Tuesday night. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.
A gilded bust representing the cow goddess Hathor
The collection includes baskets, boxes, a wooden chair, a bed and a chariot, among other pieces. Among the most treasured, is a gilded head of the goddess Hathor, according to Tarek Tawfik, Supervisor General of the GEM.
A number of other artefacts shed light on funerary ritual practices and daily life during Tutankhamun's roughly ten-year reign.
Eissa Zidan, head of restoration at the GEM, told Ahram Online that all pieces had been restored before transportation and were packed over a period of nine days and according to the latest scientific techniques.
He added that a Japanese team of archaeologists helped the Egyptian team in packing and transporting Tutankhamun's funerary chariot in a specially-designed vehicle to protect against vibrations.
The Grand Egyptian Museum, located on the Giza plateau, is set to open later this year.
Friday, April 13, 2018
Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany gifted the Portuguese president with a replica of King Khufu's funerary boat. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.
|El-Enany, De Sousa and Tawfik at the GEM|
At the plateau they visited the Great Pyramid, the Sphinx, and the panorama area where El-Enany spoke to President de Sousa and his delegation on the greatness of ancient Egyptian civilization.
De Sousa and the delegation expressed their fondness for Egypt's distinguished heritage and insisted on documenting their visit by taking photos in front of the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx.
The group also toured the Grand Egyptian Museum's conservation centre and lab for wooden artifacts which currently houses the recently transferred King Tutankhamun collection.
They also visited the lab for heavy artefacts, which houses the colossi of Kings Amenhotep III and Menkaure, which will soon be displayed in the museum's grand staircase and atrium, respectively.
The Portuguese president and antiquities minister also viewed the royal mummies' hall and the Golden King collection at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir. El-Enany gifted de Sousa with a replica of King Khufu’s boat crafted by the replicas unit at the ministry.
Thursday, April 12, 2018
A frieze of falcons found in the temple
The Egyptian-German excavation mission at Matariya, Heliopolis, uncovered roughly 4,500 fragments of King Psamtek I's quartzite colossus, parts of which were first discovered last year at the nearby Souq Al-Khamis archaeological site.
Ayman Ashmawy, Head of the Ancient Egyptian antiquities department at the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, said that these fragments, along with the previously discovered 6,400 pieces, allow researchers to calculate the original size and shape of the colossus, which was deliberately destroyed.
One of the uncovered fragments
He added that the majority of the fragments were found in south of the colossus' pedestal. The temple area was left open, Ashmawy added, probably during the Fatimids Era when the temple walls were dismantled to be reused in several Islamic buildings.
Dietrich Raue, Head of the German mission, explained that excavation work was accompanied by a geomorphological and geophysical survey which revealed many fragments of a quartzite gate belonging to Ramses II and (1279-1213 BCE, 19th Dynasty) and Nektanebo I (379/8–361/0 BCE, 30th Dynasty) near the latter's temple in Matariya.
Among them were a fragmented frieze of falcons, part of a gate of Merenptah (1213-1203 BCE, 19th Dynasty) as well as parts of a colossal Ramesside sphinx carved in red granite.
“It seems evident that Nektanebo I added his building to a major temple built at an earlier date,” Raue told Ahram Online. The archaeologist asserted that excavation work in the area has led to the discovery of new room units from the mid-Ptolemaic era.
Some fragments reveal the known practice of reusing of older pharaonic temple items from previous periods during the 2nd and 1st millennium BCE. The work was accompanied by archaeobotanical and archaeozoological studies for the identification of plant and animal remains at the site.
Sunday, April 8, 2018
An Egyptian archaeological mission from the Supreme Council of Antiquities has uncovered the remains of a Graeco-Roman temple while carrying our excavation work at the Al-Salam archaeological site, about 50km east of the Siwa Oasis. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.
Aymen Ashmawi, the head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department at the Ministry of Antiquities, said that the mission uncovered the front part of the temple as well as parts of its foundations, its main entrance and one-metre thick stones from its outer wall. The outer wall leads to a front courtyard with entrances to chambers.
Ashmawi said he expects the rest of the temple to be excavated this year. The head of the archaeological mission Abdel-Aziz El-Demery said that during the removal of the debris from the site, the mission uncovered architectural elements including upper lintels decorated with scenes, as well as parts of corner pillars decorated with the egg-and-dart architectural device common in the Graeco-Roman era.
El-Demery added that the mission also uncovered the remains of pots, coins, and a statue of a man with Greek facial features, as well as two limestone statues of lions, one of which is headless.
Sunday, April 1, 2018
North America fell under the magic of the Ancient Egyptians this week, with two exhibitions being inaugurated in St Louis and Los Angeles, reports Nevine El-Aref.
The St Louis International Airport, streets, shops, buses and hotels were all plastered with posters of granite colossi of the goddess Isis, the Nile god Hapi, Ptolemaic royal figures and the head of Caesarion, Cleopatra’s son by Julius Caesar, half buried in the seabed, for the Egypt’s Lost World exhibition.
Others showed divers coming face-to-face with monuments beneath the waves decorating sections of the St Louis Art Museum (SLAM) façade, while a large 3D photograph of one of Napoleon’s sunken vessels dominated the main wall of the museum’s central courtyard and connecting the six grand galleries of the exhibition. St Louis, it felt, had come under the spell of the Ancient Egyptian sunken treasures.
The exhibition displays 293 objects excavated from beneath the Mediterranean. It was inaugurated by Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany and SLAM Director Brent Benjamin in the presence of Egyptian MPs Osama Heikal, head of the Culture, Antiquities and Media Committee, and Sahar Talaat Mustafa, head of the Tourism and Aviation Committee.
Enormous care had been taken in recreating the Alexandrian theme.
The different galleries of the exhibition had been designed to resemble the sunken cities of Heracleion and Canopus in Abu Qir Bay, and all the galleries were painted light blue and dark sandy-red to reflect the colours of the sea and sand.
Giant plasma screens showed films documenting the progress of marine archaeologists as they uncovered the mysteries of Alexandria’s ancient Eastern Harbour within the display theme.
Benjamin had no doubt about the block-busting nature of the show in a city that already boasts one of the world’s finest collections of Egyptian antiquities. “The first exhibition of these Egyptian treasures is one of the cultural highlights of 2018.
This exhibition will attract and enthrall St Louis inhabitants as well as their neighbours,” he told Al-Ahram Weekly, adding that he expected one million people to visit the exhibition during its six-month duration.
The museum has permitted only 200 visitors per hour in order to protect the monuments and provide people with a positive experience. “This week, for example, we succeeded in selling 1,000 tickets in only one day,” Benjamin said.
He described the exhibition as “very important for American audiences as it combines both archaeology and underwater aspects at one time. We grew up watching the TV specials of [French diver] Jacques Cousteau, and here they are combined together which makes the exhibition more compelling to Americans,” Benjamin told the Weekly.
Frank Goddio, head of the IEASM and leader of the underwater archaeological missions that recovered the artefacts, said the exhibition was an ideal opportunity to encourage people to visit Egypt and to explore its art and culture.
He told the Weekly that the aim of sending the exhibition to the United States was to open the new discoveries to the widest public and to encourage visitors from the United States.
He explained that the interior design of the exhibition was totally different from earlier outings in Paris and London. It had a different sonography focusing more on museological techniques and history than on a spectacular ambience, he said... READ MORE.
Thursday, March 29, 2018
SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Australian academics could help unlock mysteries around ancient Egypt after discovering that a 2,500-year old coffin might contain the remains of a prestigious mummy.
The University of Sydney acquired the coffin 150 years ago and a series of academics incorrectly classified it as empty. Their error was only discovered by chance late last year when more recent academics removed the lid to the coffin and discovered the tattered remains of a mummy. The discovery offers scientists an almost unique opportunity to test the cadaver.
"We can start asking some intimate questions that those bones will hold around pathology, about diet, about diseases, about the lifestyle of that person - how they lived and died," said Jamie Fraser, senior curator at the Nicholson Museum at the University of Sydney. Whole mummies are typically left intact, limiting their scientific benefits. Adding to the potential rewards is the possibility that the remains are those of a distinguished woman of an age where little is known, Fraser said.
Hieroglyphs show the original occupant of the coffin was a female called Mer-Neith-it-es, who academics believe was a high priestess in 600 BC, the last time Egypt was ruled by native Egyptians.
"We know from the hieroglyphs that Mer-Neith-it-es worked in the Temple of Sekhmet, the lion-headed goddess," Fraser said. "There are some clues in hieroglyphs and the way the mummification has been done and the style of the coffin that tell us about how this Temple of Sekhmet may have worked."
Sunday, March 18, 2018
News, Cairo: Exhibition of Artifacts from Deir al-Bersha to Open Thursday at Egyptian Museum in Tahrir
The exhibition celebrates 120 years of excavations at the Minya governorate site. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.
A temporary exhibition highlighting 120 years of archaeological excavations in Deir el-Barsha in Minya will open Thursday evening at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square. Under the title Life in Death: The Middle Kingdom at Deir el-Bersha, the exhibition will be officially inaugurated by Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany, Belgiun Ambassador to Egypt Sibille de Cartier and German Ambassador Julius Georg Loew.
The exhibition is organized in collaboration with the Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo, KU Leuven University in Belgium and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany. The event will be attended by the head of the Belgium-Germany Archaeological Mission, a number of ambassadors to Egypt from foreign counties, Egyptian members of parliament and top officials at the antiquities ministry.
Elham Salah, Head of the Museums Sector at the ministry, told Ahram Online that the exhibition will be on display for 30 days and will showcase 70 artifacts from the discoveries at Deir Al-Bersha, which were previously spread throught the museum’s various galleries or concealed in its basement.
“The artefacts will for the first time be displayed together,” she pointed out, revealing that the objects include the distinguished funerary collection from the tomb of Sepi III.
Among Sepi III's artefacts are the rectangular box coffins, inscribed with religious funerary texts, known as coffin texts, which helped the deceased to travel through the afterlife. Also among the displaed items are wooden models found in the tomb, which often depicting activities from daily life such as making food and drink.
The aim of such models was so that the deceased could enjoy these activities in eternity. Trays found in the tombs of Sepi I, Sepi III and Nehri I will also be on display. These trays, Salah said, are unique as they are made of painted cartonnage, consisting of a layer of gypsum.
The individual offerings on these trays are also made of cartonnage, painted in intricate detail, allowing for the easy identification of objects.
Sabah Abdel-Razek, General-Director of the Egyptian Museum, said that the site at Deir Al-Bersha is located 280 km south of Cairo and is best known as the burial place of the Middle Kingdom governors of el-Ashmunein (c. 2055-1650 BCE).
The governors built elaborately decorated tombs high on the North Hill of the Eastern Desert cliffs, while important officials were buried in tomb shafts in the vicinity of their lords.
The earliest excavations at Deir el-Bersha began in 1897 when the French Egyptologist Georges Daressy began exploring the site on behalf of the Egyptian Antiquities Service. His most spectacular find was the intact burial chamber of Sepi III.
The first Egyptian Egyptologist, Ahmed Kamal, continued to work at Deir el-Bersha from 1900-1902. He excavated several of the elite shaft tombs on the North Hill, including those of Amenemhat and Nehri I.
During their expeditions, she explains, Daressy and Kamal discovered an impressive collection of exemplary Middle Kingdom funerary equipment, such as wooden tomb models and decorated coffins. The majority of these objects are kept in the Egyptian Museum and many will be on display in this exhibit.
In 1915, American Egyptologist George Andrew Reisner excavated for two months at Deir el-Bersha. His most important discovery was the nearly intact tomb of governor Djehutinakht IV or V. Since 2002 KU Leuven University has resumed excavations at this site, reinvestigating several of the areas where these prior excavations took place.
KU Leuven University has also collaborated with the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz since 2009 on excavations of five large tomb shafts in front of the tomb of governor Djehutihotep, most of the contents of which are now in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
Sunday, March 11, 2018
King Meneptah was the fourth king of the 19th Dynasty and the son of King Ramses II. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.
The Column of King Meneptah arrived Saturday at its permanent display area in the atrium of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) in Giza.
King Meneptah was the fourth king of the 19th Dynasty and the son of King Ramses II. He ruled for 10 years, from 1213-1203 BC.
Tarek Tawfik, supervisor general of the Grand Egyptian Museum, told Ahram Online that the pillar was discovered in 1970 inside Meneptah Temple in Matariya archaeological site, east of Arab Al-Hesn area.
It is carved in red granite with a limestone base. It is decorated with engravings of the king’s different titles, cartouche and scenes depicting his victory in wars against Libyan tribes.
The pillar is 17 tons in weight and 5.6 metres tall. It was first transported in 2008 to the Salaheddin Citadel for conservation and restoration as the residential area around it was suffering with high levels of subterranean water.
The pillar was then kept in the Citadel for 10 years until it was chosen to be among the GEM exhibits. It is to be put on show in the atrium at the GEM's main entrance, neighbouring the colossus of his father, Ramses II.
Eissa Zidan, director general of First-Aid Restoration at the GEM, explained that great care was taken before transportation, the pillar restored after comprehensive study to detect and consolidate its weak points.
It took eight hours to prepare the pillar for transportation. A wooden base padded with of layers of foam was made, with the pillar tied with carefully tensioned rope to safeguard it during transportation. The Tourism and Antiquities Police accompanied the pillar on its journey.
Osama Abulkheir, director general of the Restoration Department at the GEM, said that upon its arrival the pillar would be examined and further restoration work completed.
Tuesday, March 6, 2018
News, Dakhla Oasis: Seven Mummies of El-Mezawaa Necropolis Restored as Part of Ministry of Antiquties Preservation Initiative
A team from the Egypt's Mummies Conservation Project has finished restoring a group of seven mummies in the El-Muzawaa necropolis in Dakhla oasis, completing the first phase of the project, Gharib Sonbol, head of Ancient Egyptian restoration projects at the Ministry of Antiquities, told Ahram Online.
The restoration of Al-Muzawaa necropolis mummies came within the framework of the project, which launched three years ago by the ministry to preserve and maintain all mummies stored in Egyptian storehouses.
Aymen Ashmawi, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities sector at the ministry, explains that the project started with the conservation of mummies in the Mostafa Kamel gallery storehouses in Alexandria and at the Alexandria National Museum, as well as those in the Kom Ushim stores in Fayouom.
According to Sonbol, the second phase of the project will begin shortly and will involve the restoration of several more mummies. He explained that during the recently completed work, the team noted that two mummies have "screaming" faces, a term used to describe mummies with open mouths. The hands of a third mummy were bound with rope.
“This is not the typical form of mummification, but it indicates that those people were cursed by the god or the priests during their lifetime,” Sonbol said. He continued that the project offers a great opportunity for restorers to learn more about the death and life of those mummified people.
Monday, March 5, 2018
After eight years in limbo, the site museum of Tel Basta in Zagazig, Sharqiya, was inaugurated Saturday. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.
Egypt's Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany and Sharqiya Governor Khaled Saeed inaugurated Saturday Tel Basta Museum in Sharqiya governorate after the completion of its restoration.
The inauguration of the museum comes within the framework of efforts by the Ministry of Antiquities to increase the archaeological and heritage awareness of Sharqiya inhabitants as well as creating more tourist attractions across Egypt.
During the ceremony, El-Enany announced that visits to the museum would be free this week to celebrate the museum’s long-awaited opening.
Waadalla Abu El-Ela, head of the Projects Sector at the Ministry of Antiquities, told Ahram Online that the ministry started construction work on the museum in 2006. In 2010, construction was completed but the project put on hold, resuming at the end of 2017.
Elham Salah, head of the Museums Sector at the Ministry of Antquities, explained that the second phase of the project, concerning the interior design of the museum, aimed to showcase the history of Sharqiya and the excavation work that has been carried out within its boundaries. New lighting and security systems were installed and new showcases fabricated to host the artifacts along with descriptive panels on the history of Sharqiya.
“The objects on display are the result of archaeological excavations in Sharqiya,” Salah told Ahram Online. She added that the collection includes canopic jars, terracotta statuettes, clay pots of different shapes and sizes, domestic instruments, coins, statuette deities, tombstones, offering tables, and jewellery.
One of the showcases is devoted to Sharqiya's main ancient Egyptian deity, the cat shaped goddess Bastet.
French Egyptologist Pierre Montei discovered the Temple of Amun in Tanis in 1939 as well as a group of royal tombs from the Late Period, such as those for the kings Psusennes I and Shosinenq II.
In 2009, the joint French-Egyptian mission discovered the location of the sacred lake of the goddess Mut’s temple, the second sacred lake to be revealed on the site. In 2013, in Tel-El-Yahudia area, a mission from the antiquities ministry uncovered a huge fortification of mud brick inside the Hyksos fortress, as well as a residential city on its northeastern corner. A collection of oil lamps and faience tiles once used to decorate the palace of the kings Meneptah and his father Ramses II was also unearthed.
In Tel-El-Pharaeen, British Egyptologist Flinders Petrie discovered the ruins of the ancient city, including residential areas and the ruins of the city’s temple devoted to the goddess Wadjet.
Friday, March 2, 2018
Researchers have discovered the oldest figurative tattoos in the world on the upper arms of two ancient Egyptian mummies, the British Museum said on Thursday.
A male mummy was found to have tattoos depicting a wild bull and a Barbary sheep on its upper arm, while a female has linear and S-shaped motifs on its upper arm and shoulder. The artworks appeared as dark smudges in natural light but researchers at the British Museum and Oxford University's Faculty of Oriental Studies found the tattoos in 2017 with infrared photography. "It's actually providing completely new insights into the use of tattooing," Daniel Antoine, curator of physical anthropology at the British Museum, told Reuters.
"The location of these tattoos suggests they were designed to be highly visible on the upper arm and the shoulder," he said, adding that the discoveries push back by 1,000 years evidence for tattooing in Africa.
The mummies were unearthed 100 years ago in the Egyptian town of Gebelein, around 40 km (24 miles) south of modern-day Luxor. They date to 3351 to 3017 BC, which is the Predynatic period before Egypt was unified by the first Pharaoh. Researchers said the female tattoos may have denoted status, bravery or magical knowledge, while the male's were likely symbols of virility and strength.
Prior to the discovery, archaeologists believed tattooing in Egypt was only performed on women, as tattoos were only depicted on female figurines of the period. The oldest surviving tattoos are geometric designs on a mummified corpse known as Otzi, who lived around 5,300 years ago and was discovered preserved in the Italian Alps in 1991. The research, lead by Antoine and Oxford University's Renee Friedman, was published in the Journal of Archaeological Science on March 1.
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
A collection of Fatimid artefacts arrived safely in Canada for a temporary exhibition at the Aga Khan Museum. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.
A collection of Fatimid artefacts from Cairo arrived in Toronto on Tuesday for inclusion in a temporary exhibition at the city's Aga Khan Museum.
The exhibition, titled The World of the Fatimids, will run from 10 March to 2 July, providing North America with its first display of carefully selected Fatimid artworks, according to the museum.
Elham Salah, head of the museums sector at the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, told Ahram Online that the museum has received eight wooden boxes containing a collection of 37 artefacts for the show.
The artefacts were carefully selected from the collection of the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) in the Bab Al-Khalq area of Cairo. They reflect the history of the Fatimids, who "established one of the greatest civilisations in the world, influencing knowledge and culture throughout the Mediterranean, Europe, and the Near East," according to the Aga Khan Museum website.
Salah said that the ministry had taken all the necessary legal and administrative measures to ensure the safe transportation of the artefacts from Cairo to Canada, applying the latest techniques in packaging and transportation.
An archaeologist and a conservator from the ministry accompanied the artefacts to monitor them on their long journey and inspect them on arrival, said Salah.
Mamdouh Osman, general director of the MIA, said that the artefacts include a collection of clay pots, dishes with various foliage and animal decorations, and a wooden mihrab (niche) decorated with a two-line inscription in kufic script.
There are also a number of marble tombstones inscribed with kufic script reading: "This is the tomb of Hamzah ibn Ali and his descendant Al-Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib," referring to the cousin of Prophet Mohamed.
Also among the artefacts are marble vases, copper lamps and chandeliers with kufic script, and other objects in rock crystal, ivory and ceramic.
The exhibition features films on Fatimid Cairo, using drone video footage and 360 virtual reality technology, offering an insight into what the city was like a thousand years ago.
The Aga Khan Museum says the exhibition, "bears witness to a remarkable dynasty that built one of the world’s oldest universities, compiled one of its greatest libraries, and fostered a flowering of the arts and sciences."
Monday, February 26, 2018
The King Ramses II colossus at the GEM is now in its permanent place of display, 11 years after being removed from Cairo's Ramses Square. Written By/ Aymen Barayez.
It appears that the sun is greeting King Ramses II after the transportation of his colossus to its permanent place of display in the atrium of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM).
Today, the sun sent its rays to lighten the face of the king, 11 years after the colossus was removed from Cairo's Ramsis Square and transported to the GEM.
Saturday, February 24, 2018
The new discovery has yielded a large cache of figurines and a fully preserved mummy. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.
In the middle of the desert, six kilometres south of Tuna Al-Gabal archaeological site, Egyptian and international media gathered to witness the announcement of a new discovery.
Five showcases displaying the artefacts uncovered from burial sites in the cemetery were guarded by inspectors. Minister of Antiquities Kaled El-Enany, who was on site, announced the discovery of a 26th Dynasty cemetery that consists of a large number of burial shafts.
The discovery was made out by an Egyptian mission led by Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), who started excavations at end of 2017.
“Excavation work is scheduled to last for five years in an attempt to uncover all the burials of the cemetery,” El-Enany told Ahram Online. He explained that the discovery is still fresh, and many more are to come as excavation continues.
Waziri said that in the last three months the mission has discovered a group of tombs and burials that belong to priests of the ancient Egyptian god Thoth, the main deity of the 15th nome and its capital Al-Ashmounein.
One the discovered tombs belongs to a high-priest of god Thoth, “Hersa-Essei”. The tomb houses 13 burials in which was found a large number of ushabti figurines carved in faience. A collection of 1,000 figurines are in a very good state of conservation while other statuettes were found broken in pieces.
“Restorers are now busy collecting all of the parts for restoration,” Waziri pointed out. He continued that four canopic jars made of alabaster with lids bearing the faces of the four sons of the god Horus were also unearthed.
They are in a very good state of conservation and still contain the mummified inner organs of the deceased. The jars are decorated with hieroglyphic texts showing the name and titles of its respective owner.
The mummy of high-priest “Djehuty-Irdy-Es” was also found. The mummy is decorated with a bronze collar depicting the god Nut stretching her wings to protect the deceased according to ancient Egyptian belief. It is also decorated with a collection of blue and red precious beads as well as bronze gilded sheets, two eyes carved in bronze and ornamented with ivory and crystal beads.
Four amulets of semi-precious stones were also found on the mummy. It is decorated with hieroglyphic texts, one of which is engraved with a phrase saying: "Happy New Year.”
The mission has also unearthed 40 limestone sarcophagi of different shapes and sizes, some of them with anthropoid lids decorated with the names and different titles of their owners.
Another family tomb was uncovered in the cemetery, Waziri said. It houses a collection of gigantic sarcophagi of different shapes and sizes, ushabti figurines bearing the names of their owners who were priests of the gods during their time. Other funerary collections showing the skills and art tastes of the ancient Egyptians were also found.
Al-Gurifa site was subject to an attempt at illegal excavation in 2002, a matter that led the SCA at the time to start comprehensive excavation work on site in 2002 and 2004 under the supervision of archaeologist Atta Makram. In 2004, the site was declared an archaeological site under the guard of the SCA. In 2017, excavation work resumed to uncover the part of the cemetery of the New Kingdom and Late Period.
The cemeteries of the Old Kingdom, First Intermediate Period and the Middle Kingdom were on the east bank of the Nile in Al-Sheikh Saad and Eeir Al-Barsha area. The Ptolemaic period of the cemetery was on the west bank of the Nile at Tuna Al-Gabal.