The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities of Egypt has announced a new discovery in the country: a large number of tombs hypogeum type (carved into the rock) in the necropolis of el-Hamidiyah, in the mountains located to the east of the province of Sohag, in southern Egypt.
The findings have been made by an Egyptian archaeological mission that is carrying out an archaeological documentation and restoration project in the region.
The secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt , Mustafa Waziri, has announced in a press release that 250 tombs of multiple styles have been discovered in Sohag that were carved on various levels of the mountain.
Some of these graves had one or more burial pits and others had a ramp leading to a burial chamber. Waziri has added that the tombs date from very diverse periods spanning from the late Old Kingdom (2543-2120 BC) to the end of the Ptolemaic Period (323-31 BC).
Tombs and ceramics
The finds include a tomb dating from the late Old Kingdom that has a burial pit on the southeast side and an entrance leading to a sloping gallery (reused in later times) that leads to a small burial room.
Waziri has also said that a false door with remains of inscribed hieroglyphic inscriptions has been found in this tomb. The tomb was also decorated with wall paintings that showed the owner making sacrifices as well as some characters making offerings to the deceased.
According to the Egyptologist and director of the Museum of Antiquities of the Library of Alexandria Hussein Abdel-Basir:
“the Sohag region, where the discovery has taken place, is a very important archaeological area. Many more discoveries are expected during the next campaigns, by the archaeological missions working here.
The Al-Hamidiyah necropolis area is one of the most important and famous places in Sohag, and contains numerous rock-cut tombs. Sohag was considered a local burial center in the Ancient Egypt. It is noteworthy that it was an Egyptian mission that worked on this site, and this reflects the great confidence in the Egyptian missions and their high efficiency “, concludes the scholar with pride.
Basir also praised the project of restoration and archaeological documentation that is being carried out, taking place at the site.
Mohamed Abdul Badia, head of the Central Department of Antiquities of Upper Egypt, has commented that during the excavation work in the Al-Hamidiyah necropolis, numerous ceramic objects also came to light (some were used for funerary purposes and others were used everyday).
To these finds have been added small spherical vessels that preserve remains of yellow paint, alabaster vessels, fragments of a round metal mirror, human and animal bones, and funerary limestone plaques dating from the end of the Sixth Dynasty (2305 -2118 BC).
“This discovery opens the door to future discoveries. Egypt has many known sites, but other more unknown areas must also be studied.
Archaeological missions should not be limited to the most famous archaeological sites such as Saqqara or Luxor”, concludes Badia.
Tombs for ordinary people
For his part, the historian and Egyptologist Bassam al-Shamaa has also praised the project that is being carried out in the cave tombs of Sohag.
“We have asked for this project for years,” he says satisfied. Shamaa also noted the important information provided by the recent archaeological discovery:
“Given their small size compared to the tombs reserved for royalty, which are large, these tombs may have been used by ordinary people.
This provides many details about the everyday life of ordinary people at the time, they were used during periods of time ranging from the end of the Old Kingdom to the end of the Ptolemaic era.
This will allow us to understand religious burial rituals and the embalming process, especially in light of discovered offerings and bones, both animal and human.
The recent findings illustrate the religious ritual of burial, the stages of life and death, and their relationship with the pharaohs of the period,” adds the Egyptologist.
Shamaa has also pointed out that the tombs are dug at different levels in the eastern mountain of Sohag. “The burials in ancient Egypt were mainly concentrated to the west (which is where the ancient Egyptians considered the afterlife to be located).
This is proof of the flexibility of the ancient Egyptians. When they found no mountains in the west to dig tombs, they looked the other way, toward the eastern mountains.”
Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities believes that many tombs remain to be unearthed on more than one level on the eastern mountain of Sohag, the capital of which, Akhmin, was a major administrative center during ancient Egypt.
Source: National Geographic
Photos: Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities and Tourism