University of Pennsylvania archaeologists led by Kevin Cahail have discovered a 3,300 year old tomb in Abydos, Egypt from the site of an ancient cemetery. This new find has revealed multiple chambers and a sarcophagus, or royal coffin, that held artifacts that were a sacred part of burial rites which the Egyptians believed would be needed following their transition into the afterlife.
With the area housing a pyramid at its entrance that was 23 feet high, the tomb itself contained more than 15 people and hieroglyphs carved upon the sandstone. Located seven miles west of the Nile, the structure would have existed below ground with the pyramid visible above, according to Live Science.
Based upon Egyptian burial practices elsewhere, doctoral student Kevin Cahail from the University of Pennsylvania reported that the mortuary likely would have contained a small chapel inside and would be designated with either a statue or stele, which is a tall monument and technically an ancient gravestone, recording the names and royal classifications of everyone buried inside. The part that they were capable of studying, however, is the section of the pyramid around its walls that were probably the base.
Painted red with carved images of Egyptian deities along with Book of the Dead incantations, the sarcophagus found by the archaeologists was lacking a mummy for verification, but it was likely built for a general under Tutankhamun, who was also a scribe, called Horemheb. Along with these inscriptions, the excavation of the tomb revealed other ancient burial rites such as ushabti figurines and a rare amulet made from green and red jasper that was shaped like a heart. Being that the evidence suggests how the site had been raided at least twice already, it is lucky that any artifacts or human remains were left behind for posterity.
From the skeletons discovered, they seem to indicate the burial of two children, 10 to 12 women, and three or four men, and that they were likely from two different families. From the number of females compared to males, the Egyptian royal practice of polygamy is suspected to be the explanation.
A similar discovery was announced in February by the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute, which had discovered a 4,600 year old step pyramid that had been one of seven similar provincial structures found in central and southern Egyptian territories. Though dilapidated by millennia of weather and pillaging by tomb raiders, it was as tall as 43 feet and as wide as 61 feet. Unearthed about 450 miles south of Cairo at a site called Edfu, the ancient settlement along the Nile River would have predated the pyramids at Giza by decades, and may have been abandoned after construction in favor of the Fourth Dynasty Khufu’s plans to build the Great Pyramid.
Concerning the 3,300 year old Egyptian tomb discovered in Abydos, Kevin Cahail and the team of archaeologists from the University of Pennsylvania are scheduled to reveal what was left behind by the ancient burial rites from their 2013 excavation later this week at the American Research Center of Egypt in Oregon.
By Elijah Stephens