Image of sarcophagus from the site
August 23, 2017

Archaeologists unearth 2,000-year-old burial ground in Egypt

Archaeologists have discovered three tombs thought to be at least 2,000 years old at an ancient  burial ground located in the Al-Kamin al-Sahrawi area of Egypt’s Minya province, south of the city of Cairo, the country’s Ministry of State for Antiquities announced earlier this month.

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the tombs have been dated to the Ptolemaic Period, an era which began following the invasion of Macedonian King Alexander the Great in 333 BC and the appointment of his general Ptolemy as “satrap” or ruler after his death in 305 BC. This period lasted until Egypt was conquered by the Roman empire in the year 30 BC.

The tombs contained a collection of different sarcophagi as well as several clay fragments, and were part of a major necropolis believed to have been used over multiple generations, according to BBC News. One of the tombs, which archaeologists were able to reach through a shaft carved in rock, contained four stone coffins sculpted to depict a human face, they added.

Those sarcophagi contained two men and two women, and another part of the tomb was found to contain six burial holes, including one designed to serve as the resting place for a small child, the media outlets noted. The presence of women and children suggests that the necropolis, which has been home to excavations since 2015, was most likely not a military outpost.

Find includes rare artifacts from Egypt’s 27th Dynasty

A total of three tombs were discovered, according to Live Science. The first contained four stone coffins and nine burial holes. The second features a pair of burial chambers with two sarcophagi, six burial holes (including the one designed for a child) and the remains of a wooden coffin.

The third is currently being excavated, the antiquities ministry said in a statement.

In addition to several bones belonging to men, women and children, the archaeologists were also able to find clay fragments at the site. Those fragments, which date to between the 27th Dynasty (founded in 525 BC) and the Greco-Roman era (which started in 332 BC and lasted until the 4th Century), further indicate that the site was a cemetery, not a military base as previously thought.

“I don’t recall that there's been any recently discovered [tombs] from the 27th dynasty in Egypt. So that makes it pretty exciting,” University of Arizona associate professor of anthropology and dendrochronology Pearce Paul Creasman, who was not part of the research, told Live Science.

The presence of women and children at the site suggests “that this is a place that people kept returning to over time,” Creasman said. “They know there are at least three tombs in this area and in between those, it sounds like there are almost 40 total burial spots that they know of. And it's likely to increase” because work at the site is still ongoing, he added. “That's exciting.”

-----

Image credit: AFP