Seventeen Mummies Discovered in Egypt

This is the second of two discoveries made in less than a month. Why is this find particularly interesting?

The mummies were unearthed in the Minya province in South Cairo, an “unprecedented” find for the area.

The non-royal mummies were found in the Tuna al-Gabal district of the central Egyptian province. The vast area of Tuna al-Gabal is host mainly to mummified animals and birds.

The discovery was made after four wells were dug up, revealing a series of catacombs where mummified women, men and children were found in good shape. This is the second of two discoveries made in less than a month.

Archaeologists also recovered two golden sheets and two papyri written in ancient Egyptian script known as Demotic. This is one of three scripts, demotic is a highly cursive script that differs from the commonly used hieroglyphs found in earlier Egyptian tombs from 600BCE.

New Mummies Discovered Image: Credit Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

Though not formally dated, the mummies are believed to be 1,500 years old and belong to the Late Period: a 300-year-period ending at  Alexander III of Macedon's (Alexander the Great) invasion of Egypt in 332 BC.

Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities, Khaled Anani believes the site could contain as many as 32 mummies.

“The first human necropolis found in central Egypt with so many mummies,” says Egyptologist, Salah al-Kholi

Common Egyptians were not mummified as the Royals were. They were not buried in tombs but rather in shallow graves in the earth. Not as extensively mummified as Egyptians of the higher class, their bodies would have been cleaned and simply wrapped in cloth. Instead, the deceased were buried with Shabti dolls and personal items to take with them into the afterlife, this often included the mummification of pets. Because commoners were usually buried in shallow desert graves, any human remains would have perished quickly, which makes this find of seventeen bodies such a rarity. 

New Mummies Discovered Image: Credit Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

New Mummies Discovered Image: CreditMohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

The discovery of the mummies last month and these new findings will help the Egyptian government who have been struggling to attract tourists after the most recent Islamist militant attacks.

"Antiquities are the soft power that distinguishes Egypt, news of antiquities are the things that attract the world to Egypt." Said Anani.

Hopefully, with such significant archaeological discoveries, more tourists will flock to Egypt, giving Egypt's tourism industry a much-needed boost. Anani explains:

It’s as if it’s a message from our ancestors who are lending us a hand to help bring tourists back.

Header: Credit Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

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