Archaeologists digging in desert catacombs in the Minya province of Egypt have uncovered a necropolis containing 17 mummies. A find such as this has never happened in that area, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The archaeological site where the discovery was made is located in the collage of Tuna al-Gabal which is on the edge of the western desert. The site has been known to hold the mummified bodies of various different animals, but these mummies are the first human mummies to be discovered in such a large number. Khaled al-Anani, the antiques minister, said because of the way that the mummies have been preserved, it most likely means that they are officials or priests.
Since the dig is only in its early stages, archaeologists believe that they will find many more mummies buried in the necropolis, which is set eight yards below ground level. Archaeologists can already see the legs and feet of other mummies sticking out from the edges of the dig site.
An article written in MSN News states that more than mummies were found in the dig. Archaeologists also uncovered a golden sheet, two papyri covered in an ancient Egyptian script called Demotic, and several limestone and clay sarcophagi as well as several mummified animals. The dates for the mummies has caused a bit of debate, with the archaeological ministry saying that the mummies are from the Late Period, which lasted until Alexander the Great conquered Egypt, and others saying that the mummies could date back to the Ptolemaic Dynasty.
Site officials were especially amazed by the find, because the mummies buried in the necropolis are non-royals. Mohamed Hamza, the director of excavations for Cairo University, called the find “important” and “unprecedented.” He and the other people at the dig site can only imagine what wonders they will discover in the future.
Discoveries such as the mummies are important to the Egyptian government. They are a glimpse into the past that helps to attract tourists to Egypt. The Giza Pyramids, as the only remaining monument of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, once attracted millions of tourists, from all over the world, every year. However, in 2011, there was an uprising that caused the country to fall into years of unrest, and the tourists stopped coming out of fear for their own safety. The lack of tourists devastated the Egyptian government, and they are hoping that this archaeological discovery, and the many that they hope will follow, will help usher the tourists back into Egypt.
“Antiquities are the soft power that distinguishes Egypt,” said Khaled al-Anani. “News of antiquities are the things that attract the world to Egypt.”
The mummies in this necropolis are not the only new discovery to come out of Egypt in recent months. According to the Daily Mail, archaeologists in Egypt have uncovered a 3,000-year-old nobleman’s tomb, 12 3,500-year-old cemeteries, and a giant colossus that is believed to represent King Psammetich I. Yehia Rashed, the tourism minister of Egypt, says that these discoveries could boost tourism numbers to 10 million.
“2017 has been a historic year for archaeological discoveries,” said Anani. “It’s as if it’s a message from our ancestors who are lending us a hand to help bring tourists back.”
With so many new historic discoveries coming out of Egypt, tourism is sure to pick back up. These discoveries, such as the mummies found, are not only a benefit to Egypt’s economy, but they are also an important insight into what life was like back when those people lived. By studying the past, it is easier to see what might come in the future.
[Featured Image by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images]