The Latest Discoveries in Egyptology (September-October 2018)

Every few months, the Nile Scribes bring you summaries of the latest news and discoveries in Egyptology, both from the field and the lab. We’ll introduce you to the newest archaeological finds or recently undusted manuscripts rediscovered in museum collections, plus other new theories stirring in the Egyptological Zeitgeist. This fall has seen a wealth of new discoveries and research, with much excitement generated by an intact tomb of an Old Kingdom official, a stela with large figures of two Egyptian queens, and a Middle Kingdom cemetery with more than 800 tombs.

Did you read our last edition of Discoveries from July and August?

The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities publishes a very helpful round-up of recent discoveries, events, and projects in Egypt in an accessible PDF format. The latest issue was published in September 2018 (English or Arabic).

Several buildings including silos have been discovered at Tell el-Samara in the eastern Delta (photo: Egypt Independent)
Several buildings including silos have been discovered at Tell el-Samara in the eastern Delta (photo: Egypt Independent)

Egyptian-French mission discovers one of the oldest villages in Nile Delta (September 2 – Egypt Today)

Nile Scribes: Recent excavations by a French-Egyptian team have added considerably to our understanding of settlement archaeology in the Nile Delta during Predynastic times. Tell el-Samara, located in the eastern Delta, displays evidence of several buildings positioned together with silos and a large quantity of animal bones – signs of increased permanent settlements here.

“An Egyptian-French mission has discovered one of the oldest villages ever located in the Nile Delta. ‘Discoveries from the Neolithic period are substantially anonymous in this area, so this discovery is of great importance,’ announced Frederic Geyau, the mission head. Ayman Ashmawi, the head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities sector, recounted that the importance of this discovery is based on the fact that these buildings, which date back to the Neolithic period, are not known in this region, and were only discovered by the Egyptian Exploration Society in one location, namely Sais in Gharbia Governorate.”

The entrance to a tomb that is among a new cemetery discovered at Lisht (Photo: Egypt Independent)
The entrance to a tomb that is among a new cemetery discovered at Lisht (Photo: Egypt Independent)

Pharaonic cemetery found near Senusert I pyramid (September 5 – Egypt Independent)

NS: Two pyramids belonging to Amenhemat I and Senwosret I make up the well-known Twelfth Dynasty remains from the Fayoum site of el-Lisht. A mission at the site has come across a cemetery on the north-eastern side of Senwosret I’s pyramid. The site was in the news again some weeks later with the announcement that more than 800 tombs were eventually mapped.

“A stone cemetery was found roughly 300 meters northeast of the pyramid of King Senusert I, the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry announced on Wednesday. It was discovered by an Egyptian archaeological excavation mission working in the Lisht, the site of the Middle Kingdom’s royal and elite burials. Adel Okasha, director of the Central Department of Antiquities of Cairo and Giza, reported that the cemetery is carved on the rocky edge of a mountain, and consists of two areas. The first is an open yard, leading to a vaulted corridor with some hieroglyphic inscriptions, and a cross-sectional hall. On its western side is a small compartment, decorated with traces of inscriptions.”

A large human-headed sphinx was found in restoration work at Kom Ombo (photo: Ministry of Antiquities)
A large human-headed sphinx was found in restoration work at Kom Ombo (photo: Ministry of Antiquities)

Sandstone Sphinx Statue Discovered in Kom Ombo (September 16 – Egyptian Streets)

NS: Excavations at Kom Ombo continue to unearth new finds. This time, an archaeological team was conducting restoration work on the south-eastern side of the temple. In the process of reducing the groundwater, they unearthed a a human-headed sphinx which may date to Ptolemaic times.

“An Egyptian archaeological team has uncovered a sphinx statue while reducing the groundwater level in Kom Ombo temple on Sunday. The discovered statue most likely dates to the Ptolemaic period of Egypt’s history; the suggestion of its dating is based on the location of the statue’s discovery as it was found in the south-eastern side of the temple where two sandstone reliefs of Ptolemy V were unearthed two months ago.”

A well-preserved mummy was found in a sandstone sarcophagus (photo: Ministry of Antiquities)
A well-preserved mummy was found in a sandstone sarcophagus (photo: Ministry of Antiquities)

Sarcophagus Dating to Ancient Egypt’s Late Period Discovered in Aswan (September 19 – Cairo Scene)

NS: Working on the West Bank at Aswan near the Aga Khan Mausoleum, an Egyptian team uncovered a new tomb containing a sarcophagus with a mummy among other finds. Due to a trove of mummies in the area, it has been suggested that the site may have been a communal burial site.

“Sculpted sandstone Sarcophagus dating back to Ancient Egypt’s Late period was unearthed near Aswan’s Aga Khan Mausoleum during excavations run by an Egyptian archeological mission. The tomb contained a well-preserved mummy wrapped in linen among other things. Tombs with wall decorations portraying Ancient Egyptian Deities Isis, Hathor and Anubis were also discovered along with a group of sarcophagi made of stone and the remnants of a wooden coffin adorned with hieroglyphics. Director of Aswan and Nubian Antiquities, Abdel-Moneim Saeed, believes that the tomb may have been used as a communal burial site due to the large number of mummies buried there haphazardly.”

The large building may originally have been part of a residential complex (Photo: Ministry of Antiquities)
The large building may originally have been part of a residential complex (Photo: Ministry of Antiquities)

Roman-era home discovered near Giza’s Mit Rahina (September 25 – Ahram)

NS: A large surprise awaited excavators near the open-air Mit Rahina Museum: a large building with corridors and entrances as well as a bath from Roman times that was attached to its south-western side.

“An Egyptian archaeological mission has uncovered a huge edifice with several corridors and four entrances during excavation work carried out in Hod El-Demerdash, 400 metres to the south of Mit Rahina Museum in Giza. Mostafa Waziri, the secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, says that the building is 16×14.5 metres and was likely once part of a residential site in the area. The structure is built of mud brick supported by large blocks of limestone, and its outer walls and inner staircases are built in red brick.”

This sandstone stela was among another announcement of finds from Kom Ombo (photo: Ministry of Antiquities)
This sandstone stela was among another announcement of finds from Kom Ombo (photo: Ministry of Antiquities)

Two Sandstone Stelae Discovered in Temple of Kom Ombo (October 2 – Egyptian Streets)

NS: Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities announced another round of discoveries at Kom Ombo in early October made as part of the aforementioned work in reducing groundwater levels. Two very large stelae with heights of 2+ metres preserve large figures of divine and royal persons with inscriptions identifying these as belonging to Sety I and Ptolemy IV – they ruled over 1,000 years apart!

“The Ministry of Antiquities announced the discovery of two sandstone stelae in the Temple of Kom Ombo in Aswan. The discovery was made on Sunday by Egyptian archeological expedition. The latter was working on the groundwater reduction project at the Kom Ombo temple in Aswan when it discovered two sandstone stelae that belonged to King Seti I and King Ptolemy IV. It was found divided into two parts, but the hieroglyphic inscriptions were preserved in good condition.”

The large granite statue of Kaires greets excavators in his burial chamber at Abusir (photo: Czech Institute of Egyptology)
The large granite statue of Kaires greets excavators in his burial chamber at Abusir (photo: Czech Institute of Egyptology)

Czech Archaeologists Discover Tomb of Important Egyptian Dignitary (October 3 – Radio Praha)

NS: This discovery made a big splash when it was first announced: a tomb belonging to the official Kaires from the Fifth Dynasty. He had his tomb chapel paved with blocks of basalt showcasing his important status. A large granite statue of the deceased awaited excavators in his burial chamber, proving perhaps that statues were indeed placed within burial chambers during the Old Kingdom!

“A team of Czech archaeologists have made a remarkable discovery at Abusir, near Cairo, unearthing a unique burial complex of an Egyptian dignitary dating back to the fifth Dynasty of the Egyptian Old Kingdom. The limestone tomb is located in the centre of a pyramid field where only members of the royal family and the highest state dignitaries of the time were buried. Among the items discovered in the burial chamber of priest Kaires are parts of the decoration of the chapel, depicting scenes from everyday life, as well as ceramic objects which were included in the burial equipment. But perhaps the most important find is a granite statue depicting Kaires sitting on a small chair. According to Czech archaeologists, it proves that ancient Egyptians placed statues into their burial chambers, a question they have been trying to answer for years.”

The stela shows the two queens seated before tables of offerings (photo: Ministry of Antiquities)
The stela shows the two queens seated before tables of offerings (photo: Ministry of Antiquities)

Egyptian Archaeologists Discover Stela of Liberation Queens in Aswan (October 11 – Luxor Times)

NS: Exciting news from Kom Ombo made the rounds once more: a major stela showing the important figures of Queen Tetisheri and Queen Ahmose-Nefertari. The stela provides important evidence of Theban activity in the area as the Thebans were in the process of campaigning against the northern Hyksos.

“Egyptian Archaeologists discovered a limestone stela in Kom Ombo temple area dated back to Early 18th Dynasty or the Liberation war period. Dr. Mostafa Waziry (Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities) said that the stela has a scene in the upper lunette shows two persons making an offering to Queen Tetisheri and Queen Ahmos-Nefertari. The stele shows Queen Tetisheri titles as “Mother of the King” and “Lady of the Two Lands”. The importance of this discovery that it shows the activities of the Kings in Upper Egypt to secure their territories during their war with the Hyksos. This discovery is a part of the series of discoveries that could re-date the temple to an older date than it was previously known.”

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