New kingdom goldsmith’s tomb discovered in Egypt

Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities has announced the discovery of a new tomb in Draa Abul-Naga, a burial site for noblemen on the Nile’s left bank near the Valley of the Kings, which houses the tombs of pharaohs including King Tut and other New Kingdom rulers.

Edmund Bower at The Guardian reports that the tomb contains mummies believed to be a goldsmith called Amenemhat, who lived sometime between 1550 B.C. to 1292 B.C., the famous 18th dynasty that included Akhenaten, his wife Nefertiti and his son Tutankhamun.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Antiquities, the entrance to the tomb was discovered in the courtyard of a Middle Kingdom tomb. The shaft leads to a square chamber with a niche at one end containing a statue of Amenemhat sitting on a chair next to his wife, Amenhotep, who is dressed in a long gown and wig. Sarah El-Sirgany and Laura Smith-Spark at CNN report that while Amenhotep was typically a male’s name, inscriptions in the tomb indicate that was the matriarch’s name. A smaller statue of one of their sons also sits between their legs, which is usually reserved for an image of a daughter or daughter-in-law.

According to the ministry, there are two burial shafts in the chamber. Archaeologists discovered deteriorated sarcophagi and remains from the later 21st and 22nd Dynasties in one. Among them were the remains of a woman and her two adult children. She displayed signs of bacterial bone disease as well as cavities.

The other shaft houses funerary masks and statues depicting the goldsmith’s family, as well as three deteriorated mummies with exposed skulls. “We don’t know if these mummies belong to Amenemhat and his family,” says Mostafa Waziri, the dig’s leader, to Nour Youssef at The New York Times. “Others have clearly reused this tomb and poked around in ancient times,” says the narrator. That’s most likely why their heads are exposed.”

There are indications that more discoveries will be made in the near future. Archaeologists discovered 50 funerary cones, a type of stamped clay used to mark the entrance to a tomb, inside the burial chambers, according to Bower. Forty of those cones are inscribed with the names of four officials whose tombs or sarcophagi have yet to be discovered. “This is a good omen,” Waziri says to Bower. “It means that if we keep digging in this area, we’ll find four more tombs.”

The goldsmith’s tomb, it turns out, was discovered by following similar clues. According to CNN, Egyptologists discovered the tomb of a judge named Userhat in April, which led them to the new discoveries.

Youssef points out that this isn’t exactly a game-changing discovery. However, it is just one of many new discoveries in Egypt over the last year. In March, researchers discovered a massive statue of Pharaoh Psamtek I in Cairo. The remains of an undiscovered pyramid were discovered in the Dahshur Necropolis in April, and a cache of 17 non-royal mummies was discovered in Minya Province in May.

“Modern Egypt is built on top of ancient Egypt,” former Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass tells Bower. “Sometimes, like in Aswan or Heliopolis, you excavate in your courtyard and discover monuments. We’ve only discovered 30% of the Egyptian monuments so far; the other 70% are still buried.”

According to Youssef, Egyptian officials hope that publicity about these new discoveries will entice tourists to return to the country along the Nile. Egypt’s tourist industry has been decimated by political unrest in the country since 2011, as well as a series of bombings and terrorist attacks. However, the country has seen an increase in visitors this year, which they hope to capitalize on.

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