Monday, May 21, 2007

Breaking News: New tomb discovered at Deir el-Bersha
Many thanks (and congratulations!) to Marleen De Meyer from the Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven, for forwarding me the above link to details of their new discovery:
"A team from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium) directed by professor Harco Willems has discovered a completely intact tomb dating to about 2050 BC at the site of Dayr al-Barsha in Middle Egypt. The burial was located in a rock cut shaft in the tomb of Uky in a vast necropolis on the southern hill of Dayr al-Barsha. This area has been under investigation since 2005 by Marleen De Meyer, who carried out the excavation of the tomb.
The tomb of Uky consists of two consecutive rooms,of which the shafts in the entrance chamber had already been excavated in 2005-2006. This year the two shafts in the rear chamber were the object of research. The fill of one of these shafts, a square one in the rear of the chamber, soon turned out to be entirely different than that of robbed shafts. It consisted of almost sterile limestone debris that formed the original backfill of a shaft after a burial had taken place in ancient times. Already on the second day a small hole emerged in the north wall of the shaft, and through it an entirely intact burial chamber could be seen. Even though the burial took place over four thousand years ago, the colours on the painted objects were very fresh, and no dust even covered them."
See the above page for full details and some really lovely photographs.

The discovery is also covered on the Reuters website:
"Belgian archaeologists have discovered the intact tomb of an Egyptian courtier who lived about 4,000 years ago, Egypt's culture ministry said on Sunday.
The team from Leuven Catholic University accidentally found the tomb, one of the best preserved of its time, while excavating a later burial site at the Deir al-Barsha necropolis near the Nile Valley town of Minya, south of Cairo.
The tomb belonged to Henu, an estate manager and high-ranking official during the first intermediate period, which lasted from 2181 to 2050 BC and was a time of political chaos in ancient Egypt.
The archaeologists found Henu's mummy wrapped in linen in a large wooden coffin and a sarcophagus decorated with hieroglyphic texts addressed to the gods Anubis and Osiris.
The tomb contained well-preserved painted wooden statuettes of workers making bricks, women making beer and pounding cereal, and a model of a boat with rowers, a ministry statement said.
'The statuettes (are of) the best quality of their time. They are characterized by realistic touches and unusual details such as the dirty hands and feet of the brick makers,' the statement said, quoting Belgian team leader Harco Willems.
Minya is 225 km (140 miles) south of Cairo."

For more about the team's work at Deir el-Bersha, see their website:

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