The excavation of two ancient Egyptian tombs that have never been opened before have revealed not only a mummy, but also a trove of funerary artifacts.
Workers tend to a mummy from a 3,500-year-old tomb. [Photo by Khaled Elfiqi/EPA]
Both tombs were found in the city of Luxor in southern Egypt, in the Dra' Abu el-Naga' necropolis. This necropolis is known to be the final resting place of the top officials of the 18th dynasty (1550-1292 B.C.). Back in the 1990s, German Egyptologist Friederike Kampp-Seyfried surveyed and numbered the tombs, giving them the designations Kampp 150 and Kampp 161. However, Kampp 150 was only excavated up to its entrance, and Kampp 161 was never even opened. Egyptian archaeologists, however, recently rediscovered and excavated both tombs.
The excavation was an official expedition by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities. It was the first time that modern archaeologists were able to actually step inside the tombs and catalog what’s inside. "It is truly an exceptional day," said antiquities minister Khaled El-Enany during the announcement of the excavation.
Funerary masks and statuettes from Kampp 150 [Photo by STRINGER—AFP/Getty Images]
So what’s inside the tombs?
Kampp 150 was revealed to contain the mummified remains of an as-yet unnamed person. However, the fact that this individual was buried in a tomb, and that the tomb was found in a necropolis for top officials, may mean that the individual enjoyed considerable social status in life.
One of the murals [Photo by Narman El-Mofty, AP]
A cartouche of Thutmose I, an 18th dynasty ruler, on the ceiling indicates that the tomb was built during his reign, which started in 1506 BCE. This means that Kampp 150 is about a century older than Kampp 161. Aside from the mummy, the tomb also contained colorful statues, funerary masks, about 100 funerary cones, and engravings that depict different scenes, like a man offering food to four oxen. 50 of the funerary cones have names inscribed on them: “Maati”, a scribe, and his wife, “Mehi”.
Workers restore funeral furniture from Kampp 161. [Photo by H. Elrasam/VOA]
Kampp 161, meanwhile, is about 3,400 years old. It has paintings, engravings, and inscriptions that indicate that it was probably built during the end of the reign of Amenhotep II and Thutmose IV. The tomb also contains funerary masks, the legs of chairs, and the fragments of coffins. The tomb’s western wall has a painting depicting what looks like a banquet in which a figure is giving flowers and other offerings to the occupant of the tomb and his wife.
Isis Nefert [Photo by EPA]
Kampp 150 also has a separate burial shaft that may be the grave of a woman named “Isis Nefert”, one of the Great Royal Wives of Ramesses II. Isis Nefert’s grave contains ushabti figurines, one of which depicts Isis Nefert herself as the Egyptian god Osiris.
This is how big that statue of Isis Nefert actually is. [Photo by H. Elrasam/VOA]
While there’s already considerable progress in excavating Kampp 150, there’s still a lot to learn about Kampp 161. Kampp 161 was excavated later than Kampp 150, so there may still be more discoveries to be made.
Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities hopes that discoveries such as this may revive the country’s tourism industry, which reportedly took a hit after former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011.
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