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Wednesday, January 11, 2017
New Discovery, Aswan: New discovery in Aswan Reveals Health of Gebel Al-Silsila Inhabitants in Ancient Times
New tombs discovered at Gebel Al-Silsila area in Aswan continue to
change perceptions of the nature and role of this ancient Egyptian quarry.
Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.
Skeletons found in the newly discovered tombs (Photo: Nevine El-Aref)
On the northern side of Gebel Al-Silsila in Aswan, the Egyptian-Swedish
archaeological mission from Lund University has stumbled upon another group of
rock-hewn tombs from the reign of New Kingdom pharoahs Amenhotep II and
Thutmose III. Announced by Mahmoud Afifi, head of Ancient Egyptian Antiquities
Department at the Ministry of Antiquities, the Swedish mission, led by Maria
Nilsson and John Ward, in 2015 discovered a series of rock-hewn tombs located
in the north of Gebel Al-Silsila's east bank, in the area immediately to the
north of the famous stele of King Amenhotep IV and stretching westwards to the
"While the tombs had been
described by previous visitors to the site, no comprehensive survey, nor any
proper archaeological work, had been conducted until 2015," Nilsson said,
adding that during the initial survey, 43 tombs were identified, and five tombs
were chosen to be cleared of sand and a damaging layer of salt, in order to
study their state of conservation. Returning to the site eight months later, Nilsson continued, the work
proved successful as both external and interior walls, and to some extent also
the ceiling, stabilised by exposing them to the sun, drying out prior dampness.
The tombs entrances
In the initial clearing process the team was successful in identifying
various architectural markers, including two rock-cut chambers, external
courtyards, and dressed portcullis – slot-cuts into the door jambs by the entry
to the tombs, into which a stone slab would have been placed to seal the door
after burial. During this season, Nilsson said, the team discovered another 12 rock
cut tombs as well as three crypts cut into the rock, two niches possibly used
for offerings, one tomb containing multiple animal burials, and three
individual infant burials, along with other associated material.
The majority of the tombs excavated so far – with the main exception of
two infant burials – had been plundered in antiquity and left neglected without
further disturbance, covered by up to three metres of Nile silt, blown in sand,
and fallen quarry spoil and debris.
"These readily identifiable
stratifications have given a wealth of information with regards not only to the
manner in which the spoil and silt have been deposited, but also provided a
rudimentary chronological overview for the area," said Ward. He explained
that the individual tombs excavated so far this season reveal multiple burials
within the same chamber or crypt. A fact that suggests the tombs could belong
to a complete family, and individuals of varying ages and sex.
"In addition, the newly
discovered infant burials present another aspect to the cemetery, clearly
indicating family life at Al-Silsila," Ward pointed out. He added that
three different styles of burials have been documented so far, including a
rock-hewn crypt, a shallow grave covered with stone, and one infant wrapped in
textile placed within a wooden coffin. Two of the three children were placed
secreted within the overhangs of the natural sandstone bluffs. They were placed
on their side, oriented in either a north-south direction, face towards the
east, or alternatively a east-west direction, and facing north.,,, READ MORE.