Festival of Mummies was discovered recently by an
Egyptian team at Bahariya Oasis, located about 380
km west of the pyramids. Four tombs were excavated,
and 105 mummies were found inside them, many of
them beautifully gilded. These mummies, many sumptuously
decorated with religious scenes, represent the very
best of Roman-Period mummies ever found in Egypt.
These ancient remains are around 2000 years old,
but they have withstood the test of time remarkably
story of the discovery began about three years ago,
as I was excavating the site of the tombs of the
pyramid builders. I was cleaning the skeleton of
a workman who once was working in constructing the
assistant Mansour Bouriak told me that there was
a very important discovery at Bahariya . I stopped
cleaning the skeleton and I said "Mansour:
is this one of your latest jokes?" Mansour
replied "Ashry Shaker Chief Inspector of Bahariya
is here and wants to tell you about the discovery."
said, "We have found beautiful mummies. You
have to leave these skeletons because lots of mummies
have been found." He added, "Yesterday
the Antiquities guard Aiad was riding his donkey
along the side of the road that leads to Farafra
Oasis, some six kilometers south of the town of
El-Bawiti, the Capital of Bahariya. The donkey tripped,
hitting its leg on the edge of tomb." I told
Ashry to start excavating this tomb, and I would
visit the site the following week.
I went to see them in May 1996, I could not believe
that such beautiful mummies could exist. Their eyes
were looking at me as if they were real people.
mummy discovered reminded me of the mummy used by
Hollywood in the movie Curse of the Mummy. The tombs
with the mummies were a stunning cache. In 1996,
the Bahariya Inspectorate of Antiquities did not
have sufficient funding nor enough qualified excavators
and conservators to properly preserve the mummies.
Therefore, we kept this discovery secret; we did
not announce it because we were afraid that thieves
could smell the taste of resin that was put inside
felt that this site should be excavated to preserve
the mummies and also to know the size of the cemetery.
I led a team of archaeologist, architects, restorers,
conservators, draftsmen, an electrician, and an
artist. We camped in the desert and stayed in a
very nice motel near the site. It was a nice change
to leave the pyramids and excavate mummies.
conjure up so many images in people's mind. Most people
know about mummies through scary movies. They inevitably
evoke horror movies. But the significance of this find
is that it is the first exciting thing that has brought
Egyptomania to the modern world. To me this is personally
very exciting, but I am not overawed by the scary reputation
of mummies. To me it is a science and this remarkable
find gives me the chance to find more out about people
from another place and time.