Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Dr Khaled El-Enany announced today the first significant archaeological discovery of 2019 at the Tuna El-Gebel archaeological site in Minya, south of the Cairo. Fifty mummies in a good state of preservation were found within four Ptolemaic burial chambers, which appear to be family tombs.
“The newly discovered tombs are a familial grave which was probably for a family from the upper middle class,” El-Enany said.
Mummies of men and women in wrappings, some of which still bear fragments of colored cartonnage, along with 12 children and infants wrapped in linen, or decorated with Demotic handwriting, were found within the chambers. Their identities are still unknown, but the mummification method suggests they held important or prestigious positions.
Dr. Mostafa Waziri, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said that fragments of papyri unearthed in the grave have helped to reveal the date of the grave, which could go back to the Ptolemaic era (305 – 30 BC), the early Roman and Byzantine periods.
“The methods used in burying the mummies inside the maze of tombs varied in style”, Waziri told attendees at the press conferences, explaining that some of them were buried inside stone or wooden sarcophagi, while others were buried in the sand, or placed on the floors of the tombs or inside niches.
The entrance to the tomb had first been found in February last year, when archaeologists found a corridor leading to sloping stairs that opened to a rectangular chamber 9 meters (30 feet) deep.
Another chamber was also located at the western side filled with mummies and large stone sarcophagi. At the northern side, there is a third chamber with a collection of stone sarcophagi inside niches. This is the typical burial style used in Tuna El- Gebel, which was once the necropolis of Egypt’s 15th nome during the late New Kingdom and the beginning of the New Intermediate Period.
Fathi Awad, Director of Tuna El-Gebel, said that the Tuna El-Gebel archaeological site has several significant tombs, among them the tomb of Petosiris, the animal sacred cemetery, Isadora tomb, the Roman cemetery, as well as two of the frontiers reliefs of king Akhenatun.