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NEWS: Archaeologists unearth largest-ever discovered obelisk fragment from Egypt’s Old Kingdom

The newly discovered obelisk fragment (Source: Ahram Online).

“A Swiss-French archaeological mission at the Saqqara necropolis, directed by Professor Philippe Collombert from the University of Geneva, has unearthed the upper part of an Old Kingdom obelisk that belonged to Queen Ankhnespepy II, the mother of King Pepy II (6th Dynasty, Old Kingdom, around 2350 BC).

Collombert said that the part of the obelisk that was unearthed is carved in red granite and is 2.5 metres tall; the largest fragment of an obelisk from the Old Kingdom yet discovered.

“We can estimate that the full size of the obelisk was around five metres when it was intact,” he said.  
Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told Ahram Online that the artefact was found at the eastern side of the queen’s pyramid and funerary complex, which confirms that it was removed from its original location at the entrance of her funerary temple.
“Queens of the 6th dynasty usually had two small obelisks at the entrance to their funerary temple, but this obelisk was found a little far from the entrance of the complex of Ankhnespepy II,” Waziri pointed out, suggesting it may have been dragged away by stonecutters from a later period.
Most of the necropolis was used as a quarry during the New Kingdom and Late Period.
Waziri said that the obelisk also bears an inscription on one side, with what seems to be the beginning of the titles and the name of Queen Ankhnespepy II.
“She is probably the first queen to have pyramid texts inscribed into her pyramid,” Waziri said.
He explains that before her, such inscriptions were only carved in kings’ pyramids. After Ankhnespepy II, some wives of King Pepy II did the same.
Collombert says that at the top of the obelisk, there is a small deflection that indicates that the pyramidion (the tip) was covered with metal slabs, probably of copper or golden foil, to make the obelisk glint in the sun.
The main goal of the mission, which was established in 1963 by Jean-Philippe Lauer and Jean Leclant, is to study the pyramid texts of the Old Kingdom.
Since 1987, the mission has also been excavating the necropolis of the queens buried in pyramids around the pyramid of Pepy I.
This year, the mission is continuing work on the funerary complex of Queen Ankhnespepy II, the most important queen of the 6th dynasty.
Ankhnespepy II was married to Pepy I, and upon his death, she married Pepy I’s son, Merenre, from her sister Ankhnespepy I.
Ankhnespepy II gave birth to the future King Pepy II. Merenre died when Pepy II was around six years old.
Ankhnespepy II then became regent, and the effective ruler of the country, but did not go as far as to become pharaoh, as Hatshepsut did later on.
“This is probably why her pyramid is the biggest of the necropolis after the pyramid of the king himself,” he said” – via Ahram Online.

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NEWS: Gypsum head of King Akhenaten statue unearthed in Egypt’s Minya

(Source: Ahram Online).

“A British-Egyptian archaeological mission from Cambridge University has discovered a gypsum head from a statue of King Akhenaten (around 1300 BC) during excavation work in Tel El-Amarna in Egypt’s Minya governorate.

The head – which is 9cm tall, 13.5 cm long and 8 cm wide – was unearthed during excavation work in the first hall of the Great Atun Temple in Tel El-Amarna, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa Waziri told Ahram Online.

Waziri says the discovery is important because it sheds more light on the city that was Egypt’s capital during the reign of King Akhenaten, the 10th pharaoh of the 18th dynasty whose reign was among the most ‎controversial in ancient Egyptian history.
The Cambridge University mission is led by archaeologist Barry Kemp, who started excavations in Tel El-Amarna in 1977 at several sites including the grand Aten Temple, the Al-Ahgar village, the northern palace, and the Re and Banehsi houses, according to director-general of Antiquities in Middle Egypt Gamal El-Semestawi.
The mission has also carried out restoration works at the Small Atun Temple and the northern palace.
Tel El-Amarna, which lies around 12 kilometers to the southwest of Minya city, holds the ruins of the city constructed by King Akhenaten and ‎his wife Queen Nefertiti to be the home of the cult of the sun god ‎Aten. ‎ ‎
The ruins of this great city include magnificent temples, palaces and tombs” – via Ahram Online.

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NEWS: Amun-re goldsmith tomb uncovered in Draa Abul Naga necropolis on Luxor’s west bank

The tomb was discovered along with a number of others by an Egyptian archaeological mission led by Mostafa Waziri (Source: Ahram Online).

“In a gala ceremony held in Draa Abul-Naga necropolis on Luxor’s West Bank, Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany announced the discovery of an 18th Dynasty tomb of god Amun-Re’s goldsmith, Amenemhat (Kampp 390), and a Middle Kingdom burial shaft for a family.

Luxor Governor Mohamed Badr attended the ceremony as well as members of parliament, the Greek and Cypriot ambassadors to Egypt, as well as China’s cultural attaché and the Swiss head of mission.
The discovery was made by an Egyptian archaeological mission led by Mostafa Waziri. The newly discovered tomb includes of an entrance located in the courtyard of another Middle Kingdom tomb, Kampp 150.

The entrance leads to a squared chamber where a niche with a duo statue depicting the tomb owner and his wife is found on one end. The statue shows Amenemhat sitting on a high backed chair beside his wife who wears a long dress and wig.
Between their legs stands, on a smaller scale, a small figure of one of their sons. Waziri told Ahram Online that the tomb has two burial shafts: the main one for the tomb’s owner and his wife.
It is seven metres deep and has a collection of mummies, sarcophagi and funerary masks carved in wood along with a collection of ushabti figurines.
The second shaft was uncovered to the left of the tomb’s main chamber and bears a collection of 21st and 22nd dynasty sarcophagi subject to deterioration during the Late Period.
In the open courtyard, the mission stumbled upon a collection of Middle Kingdom burial shafts, where a family burial of a woman and her two children was unearthed. It includes of two wooden coffins with mummies and a collection of head-rests.
Osteologist Sherine Ahmed Shawqi, who studied the mummies’ bones, explains that early studies on these mummies show that the woman died at the age of 50 and that during her life she was suffering from cavities that led to abscesses in her jaw and a bacterial disease in her bones.
“This woman probably cried extensively as the size of her carbuncular are abnormally enlarged,” Shawqi said, adding that inside the coffin the head-rest of the deceased woman was found as well as a group of pottery vessels.
Studies on the mummies of her two children show that they were two adult males of age ranging between 20 to 30 years old. Both mummies are in a very good state of conservation with the bones still having mummification liquids.
Waziri asserted that one of the male mummies shows that he was suffering from cavities during his life while the second shows that it was probably put later in the same coffin because the bones were bare.
Archaeologist Mohamed Baabash, who is a member of the excavation team, said that during excavations the mission stumbled upon several funerary objects, some of which belong to the tomb owner.
Among the discovered artifacts are limestone remains of an offering table; four wooden sarcophagi partly damaged and decorated with hieroglyphic text and scenes of different ancient Egyptian deities; and a sandstone duo statue of a trader in King Tuthmose III’s temple named “Mah.”
A collection of 150 ushabti figurines carved in faience, wood, burned clay, limestone and mud brick was also unearthed. The mission also unearthed a collection of 50 funerary cones, 40 of which are evidence of the presence of other tombs belonging to four officials.
The exact location of the latter has not been yet found. These officials are Maati, Bengy, Rourou and vizier Ptahmes. The other stamps belong to Neb-Amun, the grain harvester and supervisor of Amun’s grain storehouses, whose tomb is probably TT145, and Nebsenu, the high priest of Amun whose tomb is probably Kampp 143″ – via Ahram Online.

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NEWS: Discovery of a new archaeological necropolis in Luxor

The Minister of Antiquities (Source: Egypt Today).

“Khaled Al-Anani; Minister of Antiquities and Mohamed Badr, governor of Luxor, announced the discovery of a new archaeological necropolis in Luxor city. 

According to Anani in a press release, a press conference will be held on September 9 to reveal more details about the new discovery. 
In an earlier statement, the head of the Luxor Antiquities Agency, Mustafa Waziri, said that he was confident that the new cemetery, to be announced on the western bank by the Minister of Antiquities, would be greater and more historic than the Userhat cemetery announced in April. 
According to Waziri, the tomb will be a big surprise. It outnumbered the statues discovered inside the Alushabti site last April. This necropolis contains 1,400 statues of different sizes, as well as coffins with mummies and masks belonging to the owner of the cemetery with painted colors preserved for thousands of years” – via Egypt Today.

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NEWS: Three Ptolemaic tombs found in Al-Kamin Al-Sahrawi

“During excavation work carried out at Al-Kamin Al-Sahrawi area, south east of Samalout Town in Al-Menia Governorate,an Egyptian archaeological mission from the Ministry of Antiquities discovered three Ptolemaic tombs.

Dr. Ayman Ashmawy, Head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Sector at the Ministry explains that inside these tombs, excavators have unearthed a collection of sarcophagi of different shapes and sizes as well as clay fragments that date the tombs between the 27th Dynasty and the Greaco-Roman era. 

“A fact suggests that the area was a great cemetery along a long span of time,” asserted Dr. Ashmawy who describes the discovery as “very important” because it reveals more secrets of Al-Kamil Al-Sahrawi archaeological site,”He added that along the previous excavation work the mission succeeded to uncover about 20 tombs designed in Catacombs architecture, which was wide spread during the 27th dynasty and the Greaco-Roman time.

Ali Al- Bakry Head of the mission explains that the three newly discovered tombs have a different architecture design than the previously discovered ones. The first tomb is composed of a perpendicular burial shaft engraved in the rock and leads to a burial chamber containing four sarcophagi with anthropoid lids. Nine burial holes were also uncovered.

The second tomb consists of a perpendicular burial shaft and two burial chambers. the first chamber is located to the north, where remains of two sarcophagi are found suggesting that it was the burial of two people. A collection of 6 holes for burial were also found among them one was the burial of a small child.

“This was the first time to find a burial of a child in kamin Al-Sahrawi site,” Al-Bakry said adding that the second room is located at the end of the shaft and does not contain anything except of remains of a wooden coffin.

Excavation Works at the third tomb has not finished yet.

Al-Bakry pointed out that studies carried out on bones found show that the bones are for men, women and children of different ages, a fact affirms that these tombs was part of a large cemetery for a large city and not a military garrisons as some suggest.

The first excavation mission started in 2015 when the mission unearthed a collection of five sarcophagi of different shapes and sizes as well as remains of a wooden sarcophagus. The second session starts in October 2016 where five tombs were uncovered.

Four of them have similar interior design while the fifth consists of a burial shaft.

Works are under way in order to reveal more secrets.” – MOA press release 15/8/2017 (via The EEF).

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NEWS: King Tut’s Wife May Be Buried in Newly Discovered Tomb

This shot of the Valley of the Kings shows the tomb entrances at Thebes in Egypt (Source: Live Science).

“Famed archaeologist Zahi Hawass and his team say they’ve found evidence of a tomb that could belong to King Tut’s wife.  

The archaeologists eventually plan to excavate the new tomb, which is located near the tomb of the pharaoh Ay (1327-1323 B.C.) in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, Hawass told Live Science.
“We are sure there is a tomb there, but we do not know for sure to whom it belongs,” Hawass told Live Science in an email. On July 7, National Geographic Italia published an article in Italian suggesting that a team led by Hawass had found a new tomb in the Valley of the Kings, and Hawass confirmed that discovery to Live Science. [See Photos of Egypt’s Valley of the Kings]

“We are sure there is a tomb hidden in that area because I found four foundation deposits,” Hawass said, explaining that the foundations are “caches or holes in the ground that were filled with votive objects such as pottery vessels, food remains and other tools as a sign that a tomb construction is being initiated.”
“The ancient Egyptians usually did four or five foundation deposits whenever they started a tomb’s construction,” Hawass said. Additionally, “the radar did detect a substructure that could be the entrance of a tomb.”

As for whose remains were buried there, Hawass said the tomb could belong to Ankhesenamun, who was the wife of Tutankhamun (reign 1336-1327 B.C.). Ankhesenamun married Ay after King Tut died, so it’s possible that her tomb is located near Ay’s, Hawass said.

Hawass said he will direct the future excavations at the site.
Hawass was head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities between 2002 and 2011, and was Egypt’s first minister of state for antiquities after the post was created in January 2011. He resigned from the post in July 2011. Currently, Hawass is Director of the Italian expedition in the Valley of the Kings.
Update: In an email to Live Science on July 10, Hawass cautioned that until excavations take place, he can’t say for sure that a tomb has been discovered, and it is still possible that there is no tomb. “It is all possibilities until we excavate,” Hawass said.” – via Live Science.

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NEWS: Cachette of 17 mummies unearthed in Egypt’s El-Minya

Egyptian Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Enany (C) speaks to the media on May 13, 2017, in front of mummies following their discovery in catacombs in the Touna el-Gabal district of the Minya province, in central Egypt (Source: Ahram Online).

“Tuna Al-Gabal archaeological site, near Upper Egypt’s El-Minya, buzzed Saturday with journalists who flocked in to catch a glimpse of a newly discovered cachette of mummies, dating from the Late Period.

During excavation work in the area, which neighbours the birds and animals necropolis, a mission from Cairo University stumbled this week upon the cachette — a term that describes an unmarked burial site used to house multiple mummies and protect them from looting.
Mission head Salah El-Kholi told Ahram Online that the cachette includes 17 non-royal mummies wrapped in linen and very well preserved. It was found by chance through a radar survey carried out in collaboration with experts from the university’s faculty of science in early 2016 that revealed hollow ground.
El-Kholi said the mummies were found in burial shafts along with a collection of eight limestone sarcophagi, two of which were carved in clay. A number of baboon coffins were also found.

Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany described the discovery as important because it is the first made in the area since the discovery of the birds and animals necropolis by Egyptologist Sami Gabra between 1931 to 1954.
The discovery adds to a spate of recent finds at sites across Egypt. Most recently, a mission from the antiquities ministry stumbled upon the almost intact funerary collection of Userhat, the chancellor of Thebes during the 18th dynasty, in the Draa Abul Naga necropolis on Luxor’s west bank.
El-Enany told reporters about this week’s cachette discovery at a gala ceremony attended by El-Minya governor Essam Al Bedewi, the ambassadors of Belgium, Hungary and Serbia and a number of top officials from the ministry and Cairo University.
El-Kholi said that both clay sarcophagi are anthropoid coffins, one of which is in good condition while the other is partly damaged. Two papyri written in Demotic and a gold decoration with the shape of a feather were also found.
“This feather could be decoration on the hair dress of one of the deceased,” El- Kholi said.
He said the papyri would be transferred to the Grand Egyptian Museum for restoration.
At a neighbouring site, the mission has also uncovered a number of Roman funerary houses made of clay. Inside they found a collection of different coins, lamps and other domestic items” – via Ahram Online.