Tombs Discovered in Egypt

Ancient mummies--some more than 4,700 years old--have been unearthed in Egypt

May 24, 2010


Archaeologists have discovered 45 ancient Egyptian tombs in Lahoun, Egypt. The site is about 70 miles south of Cairo, Egypt's capital. Most of the tombs hold a decorated painted wooden sarcophagus, or coffin. Each one contains a mummy. In one tomb, 12 coffins from around 1500 B.C. were found stacked on top of one another, so the actual number of mummies comes to 57. Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities announced the discovery on Sunday. The group oversees Egypt's artifacts as well as archaeologists searching for treasures in the North African nation.

The oldest tombs that were unearthed date back to around 2750 B.C. The discovery will give scientists more information about Egypt's ancient religions, the council said.

Mummy's the Word

Egypt's archaeology chief, Zahi Hawass, said many of the mummies are wrapped in linen that shows drawings of ancient Egyptian gods. The linen is also decorated with texts from the Book of the Dead. The book contains instructions and information that ancient Egyptians thought would help dead people deal with obstacles that they would come across in the afterlife.

Abdel Rahman El-Aydi is the head of the archaeological team that made the discovery. He said some of the tombs are decorated with religious texts. The ancient Egyptians believed these texts, like the Book of the Dead, would help the dead person to cross through the underworld.

El-Aydi said one of the oldest tombs is almost completely intact and hasn't been touched since it was sealed thousands of years ago. It contains urns and containers, as well as a wooden sarcophagus containing a mummy wrapped in linen.

The recent discovery of the 45 tombs isn't the first in Lahoun. Last year, some 53 stone tombs dating back to various ancient periods were found in the same area.


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