Two new discoveries

Nevine El-Aref , Wednesday 29 Apr 2020

An ancient Egyptian 17th-Dynasty funerary collection and a set of rock engravings are new discoveries made this week, reports Nevine El-Aref

Two new discoveries
Mummy plaques unearthed

An ancient Egyptian 17th-Dynasty anthropoid coffin along with a mud-brick offering chapel and a pile of mixed materials from funerary equipment were unearthed at the Draa Abul-Naga Necropolis on the west bank of the Nile this week by a Spanish-Egyptian archaeological mission during excavations in the area in front of the courtyard of the Tomb of Djehuty (TT 11).

Director of the mission José Galàn explained that the coffin was carefully placed on the ground horizontally. It measures 1.75x0.33m and was carved in wood cut from a single trunk of a sycamore tree and then coated with whitewash and the sides painted in red.

Inside the coffin lay a mummy of a 15- or 16-year-old girl resting on her right side. The mummy is in bad condition, but the girl is wearing two earrings in one of her ears, both of a spiral shape and coated with a layer of metal that may be copper. She also has two rings, one made of bone and the other with a blue glass bead set on a metal base and tied with a string. Four necklaces are tied together by a faience clip surrounding the chest.

One necklace is 70cm long and made of faience rounded beads, alternating in dark and light blue. The second one is 62cm long and made of green faience and glass beads. “The most beautiful is the third necklace,” Galàn said, adding that it measures 61cm long and consists of 74 pieces, combining beads of amethyst, cornelian, amber, blue glass and quartz. It also has two scarabs, one of them depicting the falcon god Horus, and five faience amulets.

The fourth necklace is made of several strings of faience beads tied together at both ends by a ring combining all the strings.

At the opposite side of the mud-brick chapel, a small coffin made of mud was also found. It is still closed and tied together by string. Inside, a wooden ushabti figurine was found wrapped in four linen bandages. The ushabti figurine and one of the linen bandages are labelled in hieratic text identifying its owner as Djehuty, who lived during the 17th Dynasty (ca 1600 BC).

In the same area, but inside a funerary shaft, a pair of leather sandals was found, together with a pair of leather balls tied together by string, dating to the 17th Dynasty. “The sandals are in a good state of preservation, despite being 3,600 years old,” Galàn said. He added that they are dyed in a vivid red colour and engraved with various motifs showing the god Bes, the goddess Taweret, a pair of cats, an ibex, and a rosette.

The sandals probably belonged to a woman, and the balls would have been used by women as a sport or as part of choreography, according to depictions of everyday life found in the Beni Hassan tombs of the 12th Dynasty.

Also this week, a new archaeological discovery of an ancient cave decorated with distinguished engravings depicting scenes of animals was made at the Wadi Al-Zulma in North Sinai.

According to Ayman Ashmawi, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Sector at the Ministry of Antiquities, the cave is the first of its kind to be discovered in the area. He said that the scenes inside the cave were very different from those found in South Sinai, as they have a special artistic style that resembles raised reliefs. Studies are underway to determine their date.

Hisham Hussein, the head of the mission, said that most of the scenes were carved along the cave’s inner walls and depict animals including camels, deer, mules, mountain goats, and donkeys.

The remains of circular stone buildings were also discovered around 200m southwest of the cave. These likely constitute the remains of an ancient settlement.


*A version of this article appears in print in the  30 April, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under headline: United we stand


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