Archaeologists have discovered an ancient tomb featuring dozens of mummies in a site in the southeast of Egypt. Cut into stone and concealed behind a stone wall, the grave contained the bodies of both children and adults stored across multiple burial chambers. In addition to human remains, Italian and Egyptian researchers found artifacts such as vases, coffin fragments, brightly colored masks, cartonnages and a statuette, Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities reported Tuesday. The main area of the grave contained about 30 mummies, the remains of many young kids tucked into a recess on one side of the room. Archaeologists also found tools of the funerary trade in the room, such as a mummy-transporting stretcher made from palm wood and pieces of linen, a number of jars of bitumen, a lamp and a painted statuette of the”Ba-bird”: a part-bird, part-human figurine depicting the”soul of the deceased,” the Egyptian ministry clarified.
The area was also home to several painted and unpainted cartonnages and partial funerary masks. Much like papier-mâché, ancient Egyptians made funerary masks and cartonnages from layers of papyrus and plaster. The researchers discovered more mummies elsewhere at the grave, two of whom were hidden in a painted cartonnage. Archaeologists believe these could be the bodies of a mother and a child. The group also discovered four other mummies in a structure comprising several jars still holding food. Fragments of painted timber from coffins signaled the tomb belonged to a person named Tjit, who lived around the end of the period of the Pharaohs and the beginning of the Graeco-Roman period (332 B.C.E-395 C.E.).
Painted wooden coffin fragments revealed the name of the proprietor and admired certain gods, the Ministry reported. The grave is located near the Mausoleum of Aga Khan on the Aswan West Bank, an area home to dozens of gravesites. The Egyptian-Italian assignment has mapped about 300 tombs, 25 of which have been excavated over the last four decades, lead archaeologist Patrizia Piacentini said in a statement.