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The Discovery of the Valley of the Mummies

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We opened four squares and excavated four tombs. Every two archaeologists were in charge of one square and 15 workmen. At the same time, an architect was preparing a site map, the electrician was rigging up thee electricity, and the restorers and conservators were ready with chemicals, waiting for the mummies to appear.

I was giving directions in every square. The first square was very interesting because we could see the brilliance of the gold in the sun. The mummies with gold began to appear. The first was the mummy of a female. The height of this lady is about 1.55 m. It was apparent that this mummy's face and waistcoat were covered with gold; the decoration of the waistcoat was divided into three sections but with addition of two circular disks representing breasts.

The central section of the lady mummy begins at the top with a scene of a box or coffin from which appears a head with two wings. This scene may represent the soul of the deceased during her rebirth. Five decorative circles define the base of this register. The second register shows the recumbent figure of Anubis, "god of Embalming," with a band of decorative triangles below. The lower register was composed of two superimposed squares, one gold and the other light red, with a black ox painted in the centre. I stopped describing the wonderful mummy of the lady, resting the pen against my forehead. I looked to my left and right and saw that lots of mummies had appeared. There were mummies of children, men, and women, many in good condition. I told Noha Abdel Hafiaz, the only lady in our expedition, to count the mummies of this tomb.

I continued the description of the first mummy and found that the left side of the mummy has, in the top register, three cobras bearing the sundisk on their heads. A band of five circles creates a decorative division between this scene and the next scenes, which depict the four children of the god "Horus". The woman has a beautiful crown with four decorative rows of red-coloured curls. The hairstyle is similar to that of the statues known as Terracotta. Behind her ears appears the goddess Isis on one side and Nephthys on the other. They protect the deceased with their wings. The face is covered with plaster and a thin layer of gold.

I moved to the third square where we discovered a beautiful pottery coffin. We archaeologists call this type of coffin "Anthropoid coffin" because the face of the deceased is represented in the shape of a man and the rest of the coffin is in the shape of a body. It is divided into two parts: the head and the body. Inside the coffin we found another mummy.

The excavation continued. Every day we started our work at 6.30 a.m. We moved, ate and slept, and dreamt of mummies.

The first square was finished. The style of the tomb was clear and Noha came to me and informed me that this tomb contained 43 mummies. No one can describe such a scene … it was a festival of mummies.

I walked in tomb No 54 which contained the 43 mummies. The tomb is cut into the sandstone.

Architecturally, the tomb consists of an entrance and the "room of handing over," or the delivery room. In this room two people stood ready to hand the mummies to another two men inside the tomb. Inside, two burial chambers were cut in the sandstone.

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