Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Short Story: A Year of Many Discoveries

Egyptian and foreign Egyptologists excavating at archaeological sites across Egypt have made more than 30 discoveries this year, reports Nevine El-Aref.
Coincidence has always played a major role in making new discoveries. Among the most famous examples are the uncovering of the tomb of the boy-king Tutankhamun on the west bank of the Nile at Luxor, the funerary collection of the Pharaoh Khufu’s mother Hetepheres, the Pyramids Builders’ Cemetery on the Giza Plateau, and the Valley of the Golden Mummies in the Bahareya Oasis.

This year, coincidence led to the discovery of more than 30 treasures, something which made the Ministry of Antiquities describe 2017 as “the year of discoveries”.

“It seems that our ancient Egyptian ancestors are bestowing their blessings on Egypt’s economy, as these discoveries are good for the country and its tourism industry,” Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany told Al-Ahram Weekly.

He said that many new discoveries had been made. In the Gabal Al-Selsela area in Aswan, 20 tombs were discovered by a team from Lund University in Sweden, for example, while in Luxor an Egyptian-Japanese mission discovered the tomb of a royal scribe.

An Egyptian-German mission in Matareya outside Cairo made international headlines when it discovered fragments of a colossal statue of the Pharaoh Psamtick I.

An Egyptian mission from the Ministry of Antiquities discovered the inner parts of a pyramid from the 13th Dynasty, as well as the remains of a burial that would once have been inside the pyramid.

At the Tuna Al-Gabal archaeological site in Minya, a mission from Cairo University stumbled upon a cachette of non-royal mummies of men, women and children buried in catacombs eight metres below ground level in the desert neighbouring the local bird and animal necropolis.

“This discovery has changed our understanding of the Tuna Al-Gabal site,” El-Enany told the Weekly, adding that in Luxor several other important discoveries had been made. An Egyptian-European mission working at the Colossi of Memnon and the funerary temple of Amenhotep III had uncovered 136 statues of the goddess Sekhmet, most of which are life-size, as well as a beautiful alabaster statue of queen Tiye, wife of Amenhotep, carved on the side of a colossal statue of the king.

A team from Jaen University in Spain also discovered the tomb of an official in Aswan. A Spanish mission in western Thebes discovered the remains of a funerary garden, a first in the area’s history.

A mission from the Ministry of Antiquities stumbled upon the almost-intact funerary collections of Amenemhat, the goldsmith of the god Amun-Re, and of Userhat, chancellor of Thebes during the 18th Dynasty, in the Draa Abul-Naga Necropolis at Luxor. The mission also uncovered two yet-unidentified tombs that are particularly rich in their funerary collections.

“These finds are not only a matter of luck, but are the result of the hard work of archaeologists across the country working in sometimes very difficult conditions,” El-Enany said. “Antiquities are the soft power that distinguishes Egypt,” he added, remarking that news of new discoveries always catches the headlines and the attention of the whole world.

TOMB DISCOVERIES: Among these discoveries were the three major ones made by the Egyptian mission in the Draa Abul-Nagaa Necropolis on Luxor’s west bank, which provide a better understanding of the history of the Necropolis and the lives of the tomb-owners.

The tomb of Userhat housed a collection of ten well-preserved painted wooden coffins and eight mummies in various states of preservation, for example. A collection of more than 1,000 ushabti figurines and wooden masks were also uncovered alongside with skeletons, wooden anthropoid masks, figurines in faience, terracotta and wood and various clay pots.

Archaeologist Sherine Shawki, a specialist in osteology, told the Weekly that early studies carried out on the mummies and skulls had revealed that one of the individuals had been anaemic and probably suffered severe toothache while a second had undergone primitive surgery.

The tomb of the goldsmith houses a collection of stone-and-wood ushabti figurines of different types and sizes, mummies, painted and anthropoid wooden sarcophagi, and jewellery made of precious and semi-precious stones.....READ MORE.

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