The Al-Ghoraifa Necropolis near Minya in Upper Egypt continues to reveal its secrets, as a significant discovery was made earlier this week revealing for the first time a New Kingdom cemetery dedicated to senior officials and high priests of the 15th nome of Upper Egypt and its capital Ashmunin.
The discovery was made by an Egyptian archaeological mission headed by Mostafa Waziri, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), which started excavation at the site in 2017 and has made several magnificent discoveries, among them communal tombs dedicated to the high priests of the god Djehuty and senior officials.
They include 16 tombs with five anthropoid limestone sarcophagi engraved with hieroglyphic texts and five well-preserved wooden coffins, some of which are decorated with the names and titles of their owners. The mission has also unearthed a collection of around 25,000 ushabti figurines made of blue and green faience, most of which are engraved with the titles of the deceased.
More than 700 amulets of various shapes, sizes, and materials have also been found, including heart scarabs, amulets of the gods, and amulets made of pure gold, such as the “Ba” and an amulet in the shape of a winged cobra.
Many pottery vessels of different shapes and sizes, which were used for funerary and religious purposes, have been unearthed, along with tools for cutting stones and moving coffins, such as wooden hammers and baskets made of palm fronds.
The new discovery also includes eight groups of painted canopic jars made of limestone with inscriptions showing the titles of their owner, who bore the title of “the singer of the god Thoth.” Two collections of four canopic jars made of alabaster for a woman and a man were also unearthed, as well as stone dough without any inscriptions representing the four sons of Horus.
The mission has uncovered the long-sought-for New Kingdom cemetery dedicated to senior officials and high priests of the 15th nome of Upper Egypt and its capital Ashmunin, as the other Old and Middle Kingdom cemeteries, as well as that of the First Intermediate Period, were uncovered earlier in the Sheikh Said area in Deir al-Barsha.
“The most significant discovery made at the cemetery in this recent excavation was a well-preserved papyrus scroll illustrating parts of the Book of the Dead measuring 13 to 15 metres long and being the first complete papyrus found in the Al-Ghoraifa area,” said Waziri, adding that this scroll will eventually be displayed at the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM).
Amulets, jewelry, clay and wood pottery, Osirian figurines that belonged to high-ranking officials such as Djehuty Mes, the overseer of the Temple of Amun's Bulls, and Nany, who held the title of “Djehuty's singer,” are also among the significant goods found. Nany’s beautifully decorated coffin was also found.
The cemetery contains numerous rock-cut tombs with hundreds of archaeological artifacts, stone and wooden coffins containing mummies, amulets, jewelry, clay and wood pottery, and ushabti figurines.
* A version of this article appears in print in the 19 October, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly