Egypt antiquity ministry slams US mission after 'million mummy' controversy

Nevine El-Aref , Friday 19 Dec 2014

Antiquities ministry claims that recent announcements about a 'million mummies' in a Fayoum necropolis are false

Excavation work

The Egyptian antiquities ministry has decided to halt its cooperation with an American mission working near Fayoum after accusing the mission of making false statements about the discovery of a necropolis.

According to a ministry statement, the decision comes after the Brigham Young University mission gave false information to a British newspaper about its excavations in Fag Al-Gamous village in Upper Egypt.

The BYU mission announced that its excavators were working in an ancient necropolis dating back some 2,000 years which contains an estimated one million burials. Press reports described the burials as mummies.

The mission has been working on the site for 28 years.

Head of the ministry's ancient Egyptian antiquities department, Youssef Khalifa, told Ahram Online that the statement made by the American mission is “unfounded.”

He said that only one mummy has been unearthed at the site, in 1980, and it is now on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. What the mission has discovered, he continued, are thousands of human skeletons and remains of human bones which are very poorly conserved.

Khalifa also stated that the mission had failed to respect the ministry’s regulations and had broken the law, which stipulates that no foreign mission is allowed to announce a discovery without the approval of the ministry’s permanent committee.

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