Thursday, February 2, 2017

Short Story: Aswan Discoveries

New discoveries in the Gabal Al-Silsila area of Aswan have changed perceptions of this ancient Egyptian quarry. Written By/ Nevne El-Aref.

Gabal Al-Silsila in Aswan is well known as an ancient Egyptian quarry where stones were cut to build temples, shrines and tombs. However, new discoveries by a Swedish archaeological mission on its northern side have now changed previous theories of how it operated.

“Gabal Al-Silsila was actually a major hub of commerce, worship and possibly political activities,” John Ward, assistant director of the mission, said. He added that the new discoveries had also revealed the health of the area’s inhabitants.

Two weeks ago, an Egyptian-Swedish archaeological mission from Lund University in Sweden stumbled upon a group of 12 rock-hewn tombs from the reign of New Kingdom pharaohs Amenhotep II and Thutmose III, 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 materials.

Maria Nilsson, head of the mission, said that the majority of the tombs excavated so far, with the main exception of the two infant burials, had been plundered in antiquity and left without further disturbance covered by up to three metres of Nile silt, sand, and fallen quarry spoil and debris.

“These readily identifiable stratifications have given us 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,” Nilsson said. She explained that the individual tombs excavated so far had revealed multiple burials within the same chamber or crypt. This suggests the tombs could have belonged 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,” Nilsson pointed out. She added that three different styles of burials had 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 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 an east-west direction, and facing north. Amulets depicting the figure of the god Bes, necklaces, ceramic vessels, worked flint and coloured pebbles were also found within the graves....... READ MORE.

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