Luxor necropolis among new Egyptian finds

Statues are displayed outside the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. [Waleed Abu al-Khair/Al-Shorfa]

Statues are displayed outside the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. [Waleed Abu al-Khair/Al-Shorfa]

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In an archaeological find Egyptian experts are calling very important, an Italian mission -- headed by Angelo Sesana and working in the mortuary temple of Amenhotep II on Luxor's west bank -- recently discovered a necropolis containing tombs dating back to the beginning of the Third Intermediate Period (roughly 1075-664 BCE).

Amenhotep II, son of King Thutmose III and Merytre-Hatshepsut, was the seventh pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty.

"The site of the discovery is located near the Ramesseum temple, one of the most important funerary temples not only in Egypt but in the world," said Niazi Ali, a professor of pharaonic antiquities at Cairo University's Faculty of Archaeology.

Mission members have found a number of burial chambers, with a well in front of each and remnants of wooden sarcophagi containing some skeletal remains, Ali said. The sarcophagi are believed to be made of decay-resistant wood.

A set of funereal articles commonly used during that period -- jewellery, toiletries and food left for the deceased to consume in his second life -- also were found at the site, along with a number of canopic jars containing the mummified internal organs of the deceased.

"Amenhotep II is known for his great interest in building funerary temples, and the tombs were likely built for athletes and warriors, whom he held in great esteem, particularly horse riders and archers," Ali said.

Officials immediately transferred the new findings to the antiquities warehouse in Luxor for lab tests, repairs and restoration, said Gamal Abdel Hakim, an archaeological site supervisor at the Egyptian Antiquities Authority.

They will be prepared for display, first at the Egyptian Museum, in the near future, and later at the Luxor Museum, Abdel Hakim said.

Excavations are under way at numerous sites

Excavation activity is currently under way at other sites, he said, most notably in Deir al-Mantaqa, the Valley of the Queens on the west bank of Luxor, al-Kharga in New Valley province, Deir al-Muneira and al-Tabshiya.

"The year 2013 will witness the opening of 13 archaeological projects in various provinces and the signing of two international antiquities-preservation agreements," he said.

Among these is an agreement signed with the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation that calls for the maintenance, documentation and preservation of heritage sites and the restoration of a number of Islamic antiquities and the Church of the Apostles in Atfih, he said.

The Ministry of Antiquities is currently taking action to remove encroachments on some archaeological sites, particularly in Dahshur, where residents are demanding the allocation of land for cemeteries.

Girgis Hanna, a fourth-year student at Cairo University's Faculty of Antiquities, is one of a number of students who periodically participates in excavations carried out by foreign missions working in Egypt.

"Working with foreign missions provides the student with a lot of experience, especially if the student works with more than one mission from more than one country, as each mission has its own methods, techniques and scientific plans," he told Al-Shorfa.

A mission from the American Research Centre in Egypt recently unearthed a statue of the goddess Sekhmet in the Temple Precinct of Mut in Karnak on Luxor's east bank, he said.

The 180-centimetre statue has the head of a lioness and body of a human, with a sun disk and cobra crown on its head. It holds an Ankh -- the key of life -- in its right hand and a lotus flower in its left.

"The discovery shows that many archaeological excavations are needed for the goddess Mut temple," Hanna said, adding that there will be some exploratory excavations inside the temple to determine if other antiquities remain buried inside.

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    حاتم سامي

    2013-2-21

    It is strange that foreign missionaries come to Egypt to look for monuments, and then they take them to their own countries, while the Egyptians are not allowed to do the same. Therefore, you must allow the Egyptians to do the same. Whenever they find a tomb or a temple, reward them generously on the condition that they deliver the monuments they find. Then there needs to be a museum in each governorate for the Egyptian, Pharaonic, Islamic, Byzantine and Persian monuments, and there should be a display area to exhibit the rare monuments, and they should be assessed by the Ministry.

  • تامر بدر

    2013-2-21

    There was a systematic plan to destroy the deeply-rooted Pharaonic, Coptic, Romanian, Ptolemaic and Islamic Egyptian civilizations. There are monuments that include whole cities and districts, like the Islamic ones which are 1400 years old, since the building of the Amr Bin Aas Mosque, the city of Fustat and Islamic Cairo. Then the Muslim rule became varied and expanded, which led to building more mosques and districts after the Islamic style, as well as Luxor, which contains Pharaonic, Coptic and Muslim monuments from Egyptian history. After the revolution, everything became a mess; the thugs and thieves wore the mask of revolutionists, and they started destroying the monuments of Egypt and stealing them. Gangs that look like the Mafia go out, pretending that they are in support of the revolution, but in fact they commit crimes against humanity and history. They must be beaten with an iron fist, because history will judge the Egyptian generation of today, rulers and subjects, for the crimes being committed against Egypt's history.

  • أيمن محمود

    2013-2-21

    If the law requires anyone who finds monuments to deliver them to the state, the simplest incentive is to give the discoverer of these monuments a prize as a reward for delivering them to the state. It is incredible that I would find a gold statue, for example, and deliver it, and all I get from them is "Thanks."

  • أسامة مشعل

    2013-2-21

    Everything is the same for the Brotherhood. O man, what monuments and nonsense- the economy is destoyed- people complain about high prices and you tell me about the destruction of the monuments - the Brotherhood are losers.

  • محمد عزت

    2013-2-21

    I wish the ancient Egyptian civilization are unveiled bit by bit, because every now and then it amazes the world with new discoveries which date back thousands of years that were not affected by weather or time. Therefore, I'm proud of the new discoveries in Luxor, where tombs were found. They are from the Transition Era. I wish all the officials would exert more efforts in order to make more new discoveries from the time of the Pharaohs.

  • كاظم محمد

    2013-2-18

    What a wonderful coincidence that the Italian mission has discovered these archaeological tombs in Luxor, dating back to the era of the relocation, that is, thousands of years ago. This mission was cleaning this place, but found the stones and had already reached the room where those dead people were buried. It is a great honor to be proud of all of the civilization of the Pharaohs, which has remained all these years and has been preserved, and it was never exposed to different weather conditions, but retained its entity and remained as it was.

  • دينا محمد

    2013-2-17

    Really, those Pharaohs astonished us during all these years with their civilizations. No one believed that these monuments were real, and they are still finding it out to this day. Really, it is a nice thing when we find that our civilization is still coming out to the light, as actually not all the Pharaonic civilization has been uncovered yet. To the contrary, there are some parts of it, and some others which have not been discovered yet. But actually, all these achievements indicate two things. The first is that our ancestors, the Pharaohs, are the whole history, as they were really geniuses; they thought about a lot of things and they achieved a lot of things, and we all know about that to this day. The second thing is that the foreign missions which come to Egypt for cleaning and development always try to find the discoveries of the Pharaonic age, as there is no real care for it. We should really care for the Pharaonic civilization and read a lot about it, in order to know more about the history of our ancestors, as we really see the new event of discovering the new burial site in Luxor. This burial site, for all those who care about history, squeezed through the era of transition, which means it lasted thousands of years. When they discovered this burial site, they found the coffins of the Pharaohs, and they found chambers for the dead, in addition to the things they believed that they would use in the Hereafter. We find out that these tools are of different types and colors, praise God, in addition to the makeup and dressing tools. What really surprised me personally is that they were trying to get out the intestines of the kings, and they were embalming the corpses, as when they were saving their inner viscera, this was better for them. Their insides were in a separate place and were not buried with them. I thank the Italian mission, which made this wonderful discovery, and I really look forward to more discoveries.

  • شاهرمنصور

    2013-2-17

    There are a lot of burial sites in the south, and we learned that Luxor has almost a third of the world's monuments. It is most likely that it contains more burial sites than that. I believe that we are missing something very important in Egypt, and that is that we are unable to market tourism on a broad scale. Tourism in Egypt depends on private companies, and whatever role these companies play, it is quite minor. I believe that if the country adopted tourism marketing, added real tourism programs and announced it to all the world’s countries, there would be a lot of tourists visiting Egypt, and this would be a great source of income, which would improve Egypt's budget. We do not have insignificant monuments; we have monuments and places in Egypt that are more beautiful than those in any other tourist places in the whole world.

  • هدى حمدى

    2013-2-16

    It is so amazing and exciting to continue finding and discovering graves until today. This is very great and it proves that our civilization was great too, because after more than three thousand years the tools are still in good condition and survived the erosion. This is a great achievement and I am proud of my country, which is the home of the pharaohs and the ancient and glorious civilization that has fascinated us all this period through its monuments. We need to know more about the history of our ancient ancestors, because many of us seem disinterested in their history and their news. I believe that the discovery in Luxor must have attracted international attention because our heritage is so great and glorious. If we did not take care of this event or if we considered it as a normal event, then we do not deserve to be Egyptians. It is very painful to know about this discovery from any source other than the national news broadcasts. Our country deserves everything because from time to time it proves that it is the home of the most ancient and glorious civilizations in the human history but many people still unable to realize this fact. I also want to thank all those who contributed in this historic discovery because it will prove that despite the fascination with the ancient Egyptian civilization, we have not seen or discovered many things. These hidden treasures will fascinate the world more and more. We must develop and preserve such areas, which attract the tourists who love to enjoy these schemes. This would also improve the income of the tourism sector.

  • كارولين مجيد

    2013-2-16

    The coming era will be full of the discoveries for the benefit of the Egyptian home, because these tombs of the ancient Egyptians were hidden under the rule of the deposed president Mubarak and we felt as if there were conspiracy between the ruling palace and the officials responsible for the monuments in Egypt. Of course, by the ruling palace I mean Mubarak and his family, which was dealing with Egypt as if it is an inheritance that they have the right to divide among themselves. However, we are optimistic about the coming period because the revolution has changed many things that used to happen in the country in the last years especially robberies and looting.

  • مروان خورى

    2013-2-14

    The first step to be made is to recognize their real value and not let it go unnoticed as if they are part of ancient history and we can't do anything to save them from extinction. We must recognize their moral significance rather than their material value. In other nations, there are State funded bodies for the maintenance of the antiques including archeology experts and engineers who are assigned to carry out the field operations. Such task requires important State funding. The State must not ignore the antiques. Otherwise, they would turn into scattered dust.

  • باسم محمد

    2013-2-14

    It is really funny that it has not been stolen. As far as I am concerned, before the revolution, they used to discover a lot of historical tombs and they were also used to locking them. After that, they used to sell them secretly. May Allah protect us. We are hopeful that the system has changed since this grave could have been stolen and after that they started to speak about the issue. In this case it will be a catastrophe. Yet, if it is a theft case, according to my crazy point of view, we should sell all our monuments namely some pyramids, some tombs, some obelisks and some temples. Then, we should get the money and distribute them equally on Egyptians. Thus, I may become rich. Indeed, we should expect that Amenhotep and Ramses and these people may have some relatives who are still alive. They will gather tonight and their relatives will certainly be in the Government. It is really a farce and those who expect that the issue of monuments is OK in the country are really unaware that a lot of tombs are discovered every day and sold secretly. In fact, if there is a mutual faith between the Government and the people, all these monuments will belong to the State which will manage everything and take the right decision concerning tourism and its development. Unfortunately, however, we have lived under greedy Governments which have tried to make ignorance live with us for a long time so that they will be able to take everything. As for me, I visited Al Oksor and Aswan and I really witnessed the glory of our civilizations and realized their importance and knew their values. I pray Allah to grant Egypt goodness but I hope that governments in particular must carry out their work appropriately in order to preserve our monuments. In fact, I have really heard very dangerous things about smuggling monuments which raised our disgust from the former Egyptian Government. May Allah take revenge on whoever puts his personal interests before those of Egypt.

  • سطام ناصر

    2013-2-11

    There is no doubt that Egyptian antiquities should be viewed as a cultural heritage which is worthy of pride in the international arena. Following the succession of the current regime, I was really worried because some prominent personalities called for the destruction of those antiquities. This is essential, they claimed. Thankfully, the tension was defused after some time. The situation is back to normal after the discovery of new cemeteries, which exist in all the Egyptian territories. In fact, every year the Egyptologists discover new cemeteries. Still more, they are likely to discover more cemeteries which might be both bigger and older. Obviously, such discoveries about the era of the Pharaohs would inspire the contemporary intellectuals and artists. The legacy of the Pharaohs will enrich the culture and science of the future generations. It is really a significant legacy for all Egyptian generations. Part of this legacy is the faith in the Hereafter. Indeed, the Pharaohs were the first to inform humanity about the life which comes after the death. Surprisingly, the ancient Egyptians did not coexist with the current religions and sciences. The Pharaohs believed that death is inevitable. For this reason, the Pharaohs buried the belongings of the dead with them so they could find them in their vicinity after the “long sleeping”. It is also surprising that they did not steal graves though they were fully aware of the value of the buried treasures. Shame on the contemporary generations! They are driven by greed. They steal the antiques. Whoever discovers a new Pharaonic cemetery wants to steal the treasures. I do not mean specific individuals but rather the competent authorities. The former regime had been stealing the antiques for decades. They dealt with them as private properties. Still worse, they treated us as slaves inherited with the treasures. Anyway, congratulations to the Egyptians for the recent discoveries! We are sure that there will be more discoveries in the future which could be even more significant. We must work hard to ensure a brighter future.

  • محمد فوزى نعمان عجاج

    2013-2-10

    I appeal to the state to protect our monuments from theft. This is the responsibility of the state and the monuments’ police.

  • مارى المصرى

    2013-2-9

    Egypt still has many treasures.