'The Valley of the Golden Mummies' I used to stay most
of the time where the main camp of the expedition is
located. There are two main tents with another area
for guards and the x-ray lab. I always go to the site
at sunrise accompanied by Tarek, when the rays of the
sun set on the excavated mummies. We finished all our
photography. We had three cameras plus a digital camera.
We also invited Ken Garret, a photographer with National
Geographic, to join us to witness our excavation on
a daily basis.
When I left my office at Giza, I told my secretary Nashwa
to tell everyone that I was on vacation at my village,
visiting my mother. I was afraid that the media would
descend upon us at Baharia Oasis and we would not be
able to work. The media in Europe, Egypt and Japan used
to call my office constantly to ask when we would start
our excavation in Baharia. Our team stayed almost two
months, and we did not see a single reporter during
this whole time. I believe this is why the discovery
did not make any publicity outside of Egypt. The exception
was the fox Network program that was televised live
on the 23rd of May, which showed only three tombs.
We also decided this year to give training in excavation
techniques to two young archaelogists at Baharia, Samy
and Khaled. I found that it is very important to train
them because they will lead future excavations in the
stay at El-Beshmo Hotel was comfortable, and I used
to go to bed at 9.30pm every night. I discovered that
when you go to bed early, you always have a lot of dreams.
The site continued to be divided into 10 meter x 10
meter squares for excavation. The squares were drawn
on a grid all over the site, with bags of sand around
the sides of the squares to protect them. The excavation
this year started to the west of the tombs that we dug
last year. We excavated only about seven tombs, while
last year we uncovered four tombs. Last year, we discovered
105 mummies inside these four tombs. This year, we excavated
rock-cut tombs with many different beautiful architectural
styles. The tombs also contain many different types
of mummies; but, of course, most of them were encased
with gold or gilded. Some of the tombs are in the shape
of a cross. Other tombs have a single horizontal axis
with various burial chambers on the sides. Tombs were
also found which consisted of a shaft leading to four
burial chambers. Tombs were also cut into the rock for
the burial of one person, while others were discovered
in the shape of the ankh sign.
We surmise that the different styles occurred because
of the great number of tombs, and due to the crowding,
they could not find an area for cutting rock-cut tombs.
We can also associate the different styles of the tombs
with the social strata of the user of the cemetery,
according to whether they were rich, middle class or
poor people. The tombs of the poor were only shafts,
very simple in design. Therefore, most of these tombs
were exposed by the wind. The poor burials were covered
in linen and did not have a mask or cartonnage. In addition,
the body was not put in a wooden coffin. Despite the
humble means of burial, the dry, desert weather of the
site helped in the preservation of these mummies.
The first tomb that we excavated was cut into the rock,
but its ceiling had fallen down. Some walls of mudbrick
were built, and the end of the delivery room and those
walls continued to the wooden door of the tomb. We found
remains of wooden beams in the mudbrick walls, which
were connected to the use of the door. The entrance
is located on the north side and has six stairs. The
delivery room used to have four persons in it to receive
the mummy to put his body in the chosen place. The burial
hall extends from north to south, and is about 29 feet
in length. In the middle of the hall, a mummy was found
in very good condition and was resting on a mudbrick
stand. The mummy originally was inside a wooden coffin,
which had deteriorated.
are seven niches cut into the sides of the hall, three
on the west side and three on the east with one on the
north. Nine mummies were found in one of the niches
on the west side. One of them was that of a child who
was covered with cartonnage. Another mummy of a lady
is in beautiful condition and has a golden mask. Her
hair is colored black with a bank of flowers on her
forehead in red and yellow. The cobra is depicted on
the forehead of the lady. The chest of the lady is covered
with cartonnage, which is decorated in yellow and has
scenes of the four sons of Horus. The royal symbols
of the pharaohs, such as the cobra, nemes, and the false
beard were taken over by the rich in the Greek and Roman
There is a simple tomb in the shape of the ankh sign.
We also found mummies in this tomb. One mummy was discovered
with a scene of the deceased in the form of Osiris made
of gypsum on the fašade of the wooden coffin. The deceased
is depicted as Horus on the right side and Anubis on
the left side.
Another small tomb was found in the shape of a cross.
Five mummies were discovered inside; one of them was
a child burial. When we excavated the floor of the burial
hall, we realized that the tomb was used in two different
periods. We found a mummy on the northeast side of the
hall with two red pottery vessels near it. In addition,
significant quantities of pottery and date seeds were
discovered as well as a beautiful vessel and olive seeds.
The quantity of pottery found in this tomb included
sixteen vessels, which are all wine jars.
Another excavated tomb has a shaft with four burial
chambers cut into the sandstone leading off from the
shaft. In three of them, we can see that the mummies
were burned. We do not know why. The fourth room has
about six mummies in it.
One tomb has a small burial chamber containing two niches,
one on the east and one on the west, with a third on
the south. In the east niche, we found a group of mummies
buried one on top of each other in a unique style. They
appeared to be laid in steps, and at the bottom, we
discovered two mummies of children. A unique group of
pottery vessels was found on the floor.
The last style is a unique tomb that has a large anthropoid
coffin made of pottery in one niche. The coffin is decorated
in yellow, and a mummy was found inside. We also discovered
another unique mummy, which was placed behind the wall.
They tried to hide it.
Excavation continues in kilometer no 7. I believe that
the tombs in this area should be dated to the Greek
period because they are near the Temple of Alexander
the Great. The tomb that we excavated has a special
architectural style. Most of the mummies have deteriorated,
and it seems that the tomb was entered in antiquity.
We will continue excavation in this area next season.