January 6, 2010

Tombs Reveal More On Egypt’s Middle Class

Archaeologists hope to learn more about Egypt's middle class from two 2,500 year old tombs dug up near Cairo, according to Reuters.

The tombs were found near the entrance to the archaeological site at the Saqqara burial ground.

Dating from the 26th dynasty, one tomb consists of a complex of rooms and corridors linked to a large hall hewn into the rock. It's the largest discovered to date in Saqqara.

Zahi Hawass told Reuters, "These tombs belonged to middle class Egyptian families, not royalty, and had no names on them. They were reused by many people and can give us lots of information on burial customs and religion at the time."

Hawass, Egypt's head of antiquities who led the all-Egyptian archaeological team, said, "We were not expecting to discover any tombs in this area. These discoveries prove that the importance of Saqqara extends beyond the Old Kingdom of the 3rd to the 6th dynasty and can tell us so much about the 26th dynasty."

Even though the tombs have been opened several times, there is still a number of coffins, human remains, mummified animals such as eagles, and clay pottery.

Finding unlooted chambers in such a well-known burial center as Saqqara, which served the nearby city of Memphis, is rare.

"Saqqara has many secrets still," Hawass said.