The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities and the Supreme Council of Antiquities have announced the discovery of over 800 ancient tombs, which include some completely new findings.
The newly found tombs, which are in a previously unknown cemetery, were found near Lisht, which is a very important archaeological site. They are an exciting discovery, and it is expected that they would help researchers to understand better how people in the Middle Kingdom period of Ancient Egypt lived.
Lisht or El-Lish is actually a small village due south of Cairo at Giza on the edge of the Sahara Desert. Once, it was the capital of the Middle Kingdom, and it was known as ‘ItjTawy.’ At that place, there are a series of Middle Kingdom elite burials, as well as two pyramid complexes which were constructed by the Pharaohs Amenemhat I and Senusret I.
There are a lot of smaller pyramids and tombs which belong to high officials, mainly from the 12th and the 13th dynasties in the locality. An extensive necropolis where many ordinary Egyptians have been buried is also in the area. The Middle Kingdom grew from 2030 to 1650 BC, and it was considered a golden age for the Egyptian art, as well as culture.
The discovery of the tombs in the small village is a result of years of research. Some researchers from the Metropolitan Museum of Art studied satellite images of the Giza area, and they started seeing something worrying: they noticed evidence of looting pits, according to National Geographic.
These pits indicated some extensive looting, but the researchers also knew that there was no documented archaeological site at this exact location. The experts also believed that the looters had found a previously unknown archaeological site that both dismayed and exited them.
One team from the Egyptian Archaeological Mission started investigating the pits which were made by the looters. Archaeology.Org reported that they are located at the northeast of Senusret I pyramid. Soon, the team of experts established that each pit led to a tomb and that they had found a cemetery which was previously unknown.
The Egypt Independent reported that the cemetery is carved inside the rocky edge of the mountain. The tombs were already looted, in the period after the Egyptian Revolution in 2011, many sites were plundered.
One joint team from the Ministry of Antiquities, as well as the University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB), previously started to survey the greater site. The investigation started in 2014, but it has been stopped as of funding issues and only resumed in 2017. The experts carefully recorded the features of tombs, and they have used images and GPS coordinates, as well as 3D mapping, in order to create a database for the cemetery.
It was recorded that there are some 802 tombs at the Lisht site and that they are all from about 4,000 years ago. The tombs were dug deep into the rock, and they were also classed as shaft tombs.
There is a warrant of toms in the mountainside. A lot of the shaft tombs could probably have had space for some corpses, and the site could probably hold thousands of burials. It looks like they were reused for burials many times and generations of the same family were buried in the tombs.
The archaeological survey also provided some precious information on the Middle Kingdom. Egypt Today reported that the recording of the 800 tomb permits us to understand the social hierarchy, religious rituals, as well as the daily lives of people that lived in the Middle Kingdom period.
Murals, pottery fragments, as well as human remains can provide investigations with a great deal of information and details on all aspects of the era. Daily News Egypt has reported that the mission is now working on restoring parts of the cemetery.
Without any doubt, this is one very significant finding, and it is going to add to our knowledge of a fascinating era. The tombs may no-longer contain treasure, but they are permitting researchers to make discoveries about life in the Middle Kingdom period.
Experts who are using the latest technologies also have the ability to reconstruct each tomb, and this is also permitting us to better understand the mortuary practices and even the daily lives of Ancient Egyptians. The find is giving us a wider picture of a Middle Kingdom cemetery, and it is also expected that some other discoveries at the site are going to be made very soon.
Featured Image: Lisht Middle Kingdom necropolis area. Source: Ministry of Antiquities
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