EGYPTIAN archaeologists have discovered another 40 Greco-Roman era mummies at a large mummy cache across the Nile River from Antinoopolis.
The ancient necropolis at Tuna el-Gebel on the west bank of the Nile was discovered a year ago, containing dozens of stone sarcophagi, the mummy of a priest of Thoth, 1,000 small statues and a necklace charm bearing the hieroglyphic inscription “happy new year” in hieroglyphs.
Now another 40 mummies plus ornate embroidered Roman/Byzantine wrappings and pottery have been discovered at the site immediately across the Nile from Antinoopolis.
As dignitaries from 11 nations looked on, Antiquities minister Khaled El-Enany announced the new discovery near Tuna al-Gebal, at Hermopolis on the opposite side of the Nile from the sacred city of Antinous.
He said it consisted of a large number of burial shafts dating from the late Pharaonic period to the early Ptolemaic era.
Hermopolis, sacred city of Thoth/Hermes, was the last city in Egypt that Antinous visited before his tragic death in October 130 AD. It is the site of many tombs and catacombs.
The antiquities minister said the new group of mummies appear to have been members of a upper middle-class family whose remains were buried in niches hewn in the subterranean rock.
The family tomb consists of a number of burial chambers inside which hold a large number of human mummies of varying genders and ages.
All are in a good conservation condition and among them found mummies of children wrapped in linen, or decorated with Demotic script.
Mummies of men and women were also unearthed and some of the wrappings still bear fragments of their brightly coloured cartonnage mummy cases
Dr. Mostafa Waziri Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities said burial methods varied, indicating several generations were buried there.
Some were buried inside stone or wooden sarcophagi while others were laid out in sand or on the floor or placed in niches.
Here is exclusive video courtesy of Luxor Times of the discovery:
As background, Dr.Wagdi Ramadan, head of the mission, pointed out that the mission started its work for the first time in Tuna El-Gebel in February 2018 when it DISCOVERED A VAST TOMB comprising a corridor leading to sloping stairs that opened to a rectangular chamber with a number of burials.
Waziri explained that ostraca and fragments of papyri were unearthed in the grave which its studies helped in revealing the date of the grave that could go back to the Ptolemaic, the early Roman and Byzantine periods.
The cache pit, which is more than 2,000 years old, is expected to take another five years to excavate. “It´s only the beginning,” said Enany. “We are very soon going to add a new archaeological attraction to Middle Egypt.
The spectacular priestly mummy discovered in 2018 bore inscriptions identifying it as the body of Djehuty-Irdy-Es, a high priest of Thoth. Hermes/Thoth is the chief deity at Hermopolis, where the mummy was found.
The mummy wears a bronze collar that depicts the goddess Nut.
The mummy case is decorated with blue and red beads as well as a gilded bronze cover, two eyes carved in bronze and ornamented with ivory and crystal beads.
“The goddess Nut is seen stretching her wings to protect the deceased, in accordance with ancient Egyptian belief,” Waziri said. Four amulets of semi-precious stones were also found, decorated with engraved hieroglyphic texts. One says, “Happy New Year.”
Waziri added that four canopic jars made of alabaster with lids that have the faces of the four sons of the god Horus were also unearthed on Saturday.
“They are in a very good state of conservation. They still contain the mummified inner organs of the deceased. The jars are decorated with hieroglyphic texts showing the name and titles of their owner,” Wazizi said.