On the banks of the Nile near the heart of Egypt, archaeologists have stumbled across yet another amazing find. On the outskirts of the city of Minya, they have found an ancient necropolis containing dozens of mummies dating to around 2,000 years old.
The cemetery is made up of at least eight tombs – although Mostafa Waziri, the head of archaeology in Egypt, expects this number to grow – with each one housing multiple remains. The most impressive tomb is thought to belong to that of a high priest of the god Thoth, the ancient god of the moon and wisdom. For those less clued-in on their ancient Egyptian deities, he is often depicted with the head of an ibis, but also a baboon.
This particular tomb of the priest contains a whopping 1,000 statues, along with four alabaster canopic jars containing, as the inscriptions on the pots so helpfully recorded, the organs of the high priest himself. The mummy was lavishly adorned with red and blue beads and wrapped in bronze gilded sheets.
Along with the high priest, the tomb also contains at least 40 other sarcophagi. Some of these still show the names of the people to which they belong, and it is believed that they were likely the priest’s family members.
The tombs were discovered last year, and researchers have spent the last few months excavating what they can. They expect the work will continue for another five years at least. Despite this being in its early stages, Egyptian Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Enany is already incredibly impressed by what has been found so far.
“This is only the beginning,” Enany told press who gathered for the news. “We are very soon going to add a new archaeological attraction to Middle Egypt.”
One of the best finds from the tombs is a beautiful necklace charm. Recovered on New Year’s Eve, Waziri says that it was a “wonderful coincidence” that it was inscribed with “happy new year” in hieroglyphics.
“This is a message sent to us from the afterlife,” Waziri is reported as saying.
The discovery is in an area that houses other ancient catacombs dating to the Pharaonic Late Period (664 to 332 BCE) and the Ptolemaic dynasty (305 to 30 BCE), and follows on from yet another necropolis containing at least 17 mummies uncovered in 2017 in the area of Tuna al-Gabal.