Tuesday,21 May, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1442, (9 - 15 May 2019)
Tuesday,21 May, 2019
Issue 1442, (9 - 15 May 2019)

Ahram Weekly

New discovery on the Giza Plateau

Part of an Old Kingdom cemetery reused in the Late Period has been uncovered on the southeastern side of the Giza Plateau, writes Nevine El-Aref


Giza Plateau

The heat wave that hit Egypt this week did not prohibit Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany and former minister of antiquities Zahi Hawass from heading to the southeastern side of the Giza Plateau, along with members of the Egyptian and international media, to announce a new discovery.

After the ascent of a small hill of sand, they arrived at a newly discovered cemetery where a collection of tombs and burial shafts had been uncovered during excavation work carried out by an Egyptian archaeological mission led by Mustafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA).

Only three burials have thus far been excavated and cleaned. “The oldest one is a limestone double tomb from the Fifth Dynasty, which still retains some of its inscriptions and wall paintings,” Waziri told Al-Ahram Weekly, pointing out that the team had to remove 450 cubic metres of sand to reveal the tomb.

He explained that the tomb belonged to two people. The first was Behnui-Ka, whose name has not been found before on the Giza Plateau. He had seven titles, among them purifier of the kings Khafre, Userkaf and Niuserre, priest of the goddess Maat, and elder judge of the court.

The second owner of the tomb was named Nwi, and he had five titles among them chief of the great state, overseer of the new settlements, and purifier of king Khafre.

Giza Plateau

Many artefacts were discovered in the tomb, among the most significant being a fine limestone statue of one of the tomb’s owners, his wife and son.

Ashraf Mohi, director-general of the Giza Plateau, said that the cemetery had been reused extensively during the Late Period (early seventh century BC), and therefore many wooden painted and decorated anthropoid coffins from this time had been discovered in other tombs along with wooden and clay funerary items.

Some of the coffins bore the face of the deceased and were decorated with vertical lines of hieroglyphic inscriptions, he said. Burial shafts that served as communal graves were also identified at the site.

Hawass explained to the Weekly the importance of the site and how the Giza Plateau was particularly significant as it was the place where the workmen’s cemetery was discovered, proving that the builders of the Pyramids were Egyptians and that they had not been slaves.

They had been allowed to build their tombs for all eternity in the shadow of the Pyramids beside those of their kings, Hawass said.

He pointed out that he had thought that the tombs of the Pyramid builders extended to the southeastern side of the Plateau, but that the new discovery had disproved this idea and proved that the area and the people buried in it could be connected to the 26th-Dynasty priests’ cemetery located behind the Sphinx.

“To discover a Fifth-Dynasty tomb within a 26th-Dynasty cemetery is very important for archaeology,” Hawass said, describing the tomb as small and beautiful.

“Making new discoveries in Egypt known worldwide is very important as it is the best way to promote Egypt abroad,” he added.

El-Enany said that the announcement of the new discoveries and archaeological projects carried out by the Ministry of Antiquities did not only have a scientific and archaeological value but was also important to promoting Egypt’s true image and culture abroad as an important source of its soft power.

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