The band of fifty-three
A large necropolis of 53 rock-hewn tombs of various sizes and structural styles has been uncovered southeast of the Lahun Pyramid in Fayoum, Nevine El-Aref reports
The tombs were found during routine excavations by an Egyptian archaeological team from the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) near the pyramid. The excavations were being carried out as part of a project to investigate the area following the removal of previous encroachment by informal and illegal builders. While working, the team stumbled upon what is believed to be an ancient necropolis with 53 rock-hewn tombs that can be dated to the Second Dynasty and to the Middle and New kingdoms -- a time span of almost 2,000 years.
The tombs vary in their interior designs. Some have a single burial shaft, while others have a shaft leading to an upper chamber opening to the main burial chamber, which was probably used to bury the tomb's owner and his wife while other members of the family were buried inside the upper chamber. The third type of tombs consists of two levels; the first is a burial shaft leading to an upper burial chamber stretched to another chamber on a lower level. Excavations inside these tombs revealed that every tomb had wooden coffins containing linen-wrapped mummies covered in cartonnage. The decoration and inscriptions on the mummy trappings are well-preserved and feature offering inscriptions and geometrical decorations.
Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the SCA, said that charred remains of a number of coffins were also recovered inside one of the tombs and added that they were probably burned during the Coptic Period. Among these coffins were unearthed 15 painted masks, along with amulets and clay pots.
Abdel-Rahman El-Ayedi, supervisor of antiquities for the Middle Egypt and head of the mission, said that a Middle Kingdom funerary chapel with an offering table was also found. Preliminary studies revealed that the chapel was reused in subsequent periods, perhaps as late as the Roman era. Clay coffins and bronze and copper jewellery dating from the Roman era, as well as a collection of well-preserved faience amulets, were also recovered.