Swedish Team Uncovers 12 New Tombs In Egyptian Quarry

Just in time for the 2017 Mummy reboot comes news of more tombs being discovered in – you guessed it – Egypt. We have the Swedish mission at Gebel el Silsila, led by Lund University‘s Dr. Maria Nilsson and John Ward to thank for this bit of archaeology.

The 12 tombs date back to the 18th Dynasty, known as the Thutmosid period, and comes complete with crypts cut into the rock, multiple-chambered tombs, a tomb with burial animals, some niches and even juvenile burials. The excavation also revealed “finely dressed sandstone sarcophagi, painted cartonnage, sculptured and occasionally painted pottery coffins, textile and organic wrapping, ceramic vessels and plates, as well as an array of jewellery, amulets and scarabs.” That’s slightly surprising considering a solid amount of tombs were pillaged by grave robbers before being rediscovered by archeologists.

“Fossils of sheep and goats as well as a couple of Nile perch and an almost complete crocodile were found along with sandstone sarcophagi, sculptured and occasionally painted pottery coffins, painted cartonnage, textile and organic wrapping, ceramic vessels and plates, as well as an array of jewellery, amulets and scarabs,” a statement from Egypt’s Antiquities Authority said.

As for the remains found underneath the sands, preliminary studies have revealed that they came from mostly healthy individuals. According to the university, “very little evidence of malnutrition and infection has been discovered.” These studies are substantiated by the fracture of long bones and “increased muscle attachments amongst the skeletal remains,” which indicate that the dead suffered injuries related to occupational hazards and an “extremely labor intensive environment.” What’s more, a good deal of the injuries sustained were found in an advanced stage of healing. So while they were worked like dogs, they did have decent medical care.

“Two of the three children were placed secreted within the overhangs of the natural sandstone bluffs,” the ministry said. “They were placed on their side oriented in either a north-south direction, face towards the east, alternatively east-west direction, and facing north. Burial gifts include amulets (including the figure of Bes), necklaces, ceramic vessels, worked flint and coloured pebbles.”

For those who don’t know, the site where the tombs were discovered (Gebel el Silsila) was used as a major quarry site on both sides of the Nile. This area is where most of the sandstone in Egypt’s great temples came from. The site was active some 3,600 years ago between the reigns of Pharaohs Thutmose III and Amenhotep II and the significance of this latest discovery is that is sheds new light on the area and those who lived there. We now know that family life existed in Silsila, and their love for the crocodile god Sobek was very real, as evidenced by the headless crocodiles found in the crypts.

But Egyptologists already knew that bit about Sobek, so don’t buy into the confusion surrounding the headless crocs found on site. You can find out a lot more about what’s going on in Gebel el Silsila over at the Gebel el Silsila Project, and we highly suggest you give it a look.

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