Archaeologists have discovered 12 new ancient tombs in Egypt which include rock-cut tombs with chambers, crypts cut into rocks, niches that may have been used for offering, tombs with multiple animal burials and juvenile burials, some of which were found intact
Gebel el Silsila
The Swedish archaeological team made the discovery in Gebel el Silsila, an ancient sandstone quarry site located at the banks of the Nile dating back to 3,600 years ago when Pharaohs Thutmose III and Amenhotep II reigned. Thutmose III is considered to be among the greatest pharaohs in Egypt's history. Some think he was the pharaoh associated with the exodus of the Israelites.
Gebel el Silsila served as a major quarry site from the 18th Dynasty providing sandstone to almost all of the great temples. The stones that were used for constructing the temples of Karnak and Luxor are believed to have originated here. Gebel el Silsila, however, was not just a sandstone quarry site.
"This is actually a major hub of commerce, worship and possibly political [activity]," said John Ward, assistant director of the Gebel el Silsila Survey Project.
Sheep Or Goats And Crocodiles
Ward and colleagues found a dozen rock-cut tombs at the site. They also found three crypts cut into the rock, two of which appear to have been used for offerings. The other one contains three individual infant burials and a host of animal remains belonging to sheep or goats and crocodiles.
Ward said that the sheep or goats may have been sacrificed. The reason why the crocodiles were there though was not clear. They may have been intentionally placed there or were simply washed there.
Multiple burials were found within the same chambers inside tombs which were possibly of complete families whose members varied in age and gender.
Archeologists also discovered a shallow grave with a stone covering and an infant wrapped in textile who was placed in a wooden coffin. The burial gifts they found at the excavation site include amulets, ceramic vessels, necklaces, worked flint and colored pebbles.
Ancient Quarry Workers
The ancient bodies,which were wrapped in a type of linen, possibly belonged to quarry workers of antiquity. The fractures of the elongated bones and increased muscle attachments of the human remains suggested of a labor intensive environment.
The remains hinted the health of the individuals when they were still alive. The archeologists did not find signs of malnutrition or infection in the vast number of remains, which suggest Gebel el Silsila residents at the time were generally healthy.
It also appears that those who got themselves injured have been taken care of. Many of the injuries found in the remains appear to be in advanced stage of healing, which hint that the individuals receive effective medical care.
Researchers said that further excavations could shed more light on the lives of those who live in the area thousands of years ago.
"With further fieldwork the team look forward to increasing their understanding of the overall function and role of the area during the New Kingdom," reads a release of the discovery.