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The Discovery of the Valley of the Mummies

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The mummy's right side bears decoration with Kebeh-snewef who is connected with Serket. Beneath, the register depicts Imesty. Thereupon the decoration presents mirror images of the opposite side, showing the two standing figures of the children of Horus and the recumbent Anubis, the god of Embalment.

I never did an excavation as exciting as this one, because when I moved to another square, I saw for the first time a figure of the god Anubis depicted on the left and right side of a tomb entrance. This is the only tomb to have a black figure drawn like this; Anubis is guarding the tomb. The other part of the tomb is cut in the sandstone and contains many mummies.

The most interesting experience was when I saw the other tomb. This tomb consists of rooms similar to the catacombs, with one room stacked above the other. Inside this room we found a mummy of a child which was, interestingly enough, also gilded. In other room, we found another mummy completely covered with linen. This mummy is similar to the New Kingdom mummies and also recalls the mummies that Hollywood uses in its movies.

When, in the evening, I went to El-Beshmo hotel, I sat in the courtyard of the hotel, and, thinking of the mummy of the lady, I began to write some remarks on this mummy.

The head dress of the first mummy displays rows of curls ending with spirals framing the forehead and extending behind the ears on both sides; a braid surrounds these curls. These features were what led some to believe that the mummy belongs to a woman. It has also been suggested that the decoration should be analyzed from the bottom to the top, just as we read scenes displayed on temple walls.

The scenes on the lower register of the mask depict two figures. The one on the left holds a standard crowned by a jackal signifying Wepwawat. The figure on the right, however, is wearing a uraeus on the forehead and is holding a symbol. Although unclear, the figure could represent the god Horus. Between the two figures stands the god Toth in the from of an Ibis, wearing the double crown with two horns.

I also thought of the other mummy and I can see how the god Toth is here represented in the form of an Ibis. In this case, however, he is flanked by two figures of the god Anubis who possibly holds the key to the underworld. These mummies tell us a lot about the life of the people at Bahariya Oasis in the Roman period. They also give us much information about mummification and the afterlife.

The people in Bahariya were very rich because all the mummies show that the people could afford to have gilding and even cartonage to depict beautiful scenes. I can imagine the style of workshops in Bahariya. It would seem that workshops were everywhere and artisans was a main profession in Bahariya. We know that the population in Egypt during the Roman period was about 7 million. Therefore I believe that the population in Bahariya during this period was about 30,000. Today the people of Bahariya number some 450,000.

The main industry in Bahariya was the production of wine, which they made from dates and grapes. They exported wine all over the Nile valley, and I believe that this was the reason for the wealth of the people in the Oasis. Today, Bahariya is a very quiet place. The people take every thing easy and they are very peaceful. I believe that this was the same situation in the past.

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