'Exceptional' discovery reveals more than 30 ancient Egyptian tombs built into hillside

By Jurassic JennJun 28, 2024 09:36 AMScience
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'Exceptional' discovery reveals more than 30 ancient Egyptian tombs built into hillside
'Exceptional' discovery reveals more than 30 ancient Egyptian tombs built into hillside. Source: www.yahoo.com

More than 30 ancient Egyptian tombs have been unearthed in the city of Aswan, Egypt, revealing fascinating insights into the Greco-Roman period and the lives of those who resided in this bustling trading hub. Situated on a hillside, these tombs include family burials encompassing children laid to rest alongside their parents. The incredible discoveries shed light on the rich history of the region and showcase the significance of Aswan as a vibrant center for trade and cultural exchange. This was reported by SSPDaily.

The site came to the attention of archaeologists in 2015 following the occurrence of numerous unauthorized excavations. Local archaeologists were called upon by the government to survey the area, leading to the spectacular findings of tombs dating back to the late Greek and Roman periods, roughly spanning from 332 B.C. to A.D. 395. Renowned Egyptologist and archaeologist Patrizia Piacentini, who heads a joint Egyptian-Italian mission at the site, spearheaded the survey efforts in 2019 alongside an extensive team of researchers from both countries.

Highlighted among the findings are mummies believed to belong to families buried together, as well as coffins, decorated clay vessels called amphorae, and artifacts like offering tables. These tombs, uniquely built into the rock face with a vertical height of around 10 levels, distinguish themselves from others discovered elsewhere in Egypt during the same period, which typically featured only two to three levels.

Dating back to approximately 900 years between the 6th century B.C. and the 2nd or 3rd century A.D., these tombs provide insights into various periods of history, including Persian, Greek Ptolemaic, and Roman rule. The hierarchy of the times is reflected in the design and organization of the tombs, with elites occupying the upper levels and the middle-class individuals residing in the lower strata.

An impressive detail emerged from analyses conducted on the mummies, indicating that about 30% to 40% of them are children as young as newborns and two years of age. It is likely that these young individuals fell victim to infectious diseases that affected the entire family. Anemia and infectious diseases were identified as the common causes of death during that era, affecting even the most affluent members of society.

Through partnerships with medical experts at the University Hospital in Aswan, further investigations utilizing X-rays, CT scans, and DNA analysis were carried out to delve into the circumstances of their demise. These analyses revealed the prevalence of conditions such as tuberculosis, suggesting the possibility of entire families succumbing to the disease. Biological studies are currently underway to gain a clearer understanding of the prevalent diseases during that period.

The magnitude of this discovery has been described as "exceptional" and holds tremendous potential for uncovering additional aspects of the city's history and its diverse populations. The team, having already mapped out 300 tombs covering an area of about 215,000 square feet (20,000 square meters) in the extensive necropolis, remains hopeful that more stunning revelations are yet to come. As the story continues to unfold, the tombs of Aswan offer an incredible glimpse into the past, enriching our understanding of ancient Egyptian civilization.

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