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Tomb of Pharaoh's Wife Discovered In Egyptian Oasis


CAIRO (Reuters) - The tomb of a Pharaoh's wife has been discovered in Egypt's Western Desert, decorated with 100 gold amulets, the largest number ever found on one mummy, Egyptian officials said on Monday.

Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni said an excavation team working in the village of Bawiti last week found the mummy of Naas, the wife of Gad Khensu Eyuf Ankh, the ruler of the Bahriya oasis between 589 and 570 BC.

An oasis describes the area around an actual water point where Bedouin settlements may be situated.

The Pharaoh's tomb was discovered in March last year in the same village in the oasis, some 250 miles southwest of Cairo. Hosni said Naas' tomb, four miles from the valley of the golden mummies, held a limestone coffin, 100 gold amulets and other jewellery.

Gaballah Ali Gaballah, chairman of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, said this was the first time such a large number of amulets had been discovered on one mummy.

The most important discoveries were a gold ring on the mummy's finger and an Osiris pendant, he said.

Zahi Hawass, Director of the Giza Plateau, said the team would continue excavation work at the same site to try to uncover all 26 mummies of the oasis' ruling family. Six mummies have already been found.




In 1999 a team uncovered a mass grave of more than 100 mummies belonging to families of high-ranking officials in the Roman period (30 BC to 395 AD) in the same village.

Dr Wilkinson, whose previous successes have included recreating the faces of unidentified bodies for the police, worked on Lady X as part of a joint Egyptian, Dutch and British team. The mummy was taken from the museum to Cairo's New Kasr-el-Aini Hospital and given a computer tomography (CT) scan. The scanner, normally used to detect cancers and other diseases, surveyed the head in 223 slices, each one a millimetre thick.

Dr Wilkinson said: "A computer translated each slice of the CT information into three dimensions, and used lasers to cut a wax resin copy of the skull. I could then work with the model skull, and the soft tissue information from the CT images.

She added: "You build the muscles of the face on to the skull one by one in clay. I used sets of average tissue depth data to give me a guide to the amount I should put on the face. The whole process takes a week. I think she's got quite a strong face, quite characterful, but I wouldn't say she has got Cleopatra's nose or anything like that."

Lady X's face will now be displayed alongside her mummy in the Egyptian Museum of Cairo. The project has inspired Dr Wilkinson to consider reconstructing the face of possibly the most famous pharaoh: Tutankhamun. She said: "Tutankhamun has a beautiful face on the gold mask he was buried with. As to how idealised that is, I don't know. It would be great to find out.




(This news update is courtesy of News Service,  which has a complete daily news service from around the world)

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