Friday, January 25, 2008

Graeco-Roman mummies found in the Fayoum

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine El-Aref)

Nevine El-Aref reports about the Graeco-Roman necropolis at Deir Al-Banat in the Faiyum Depression (to the southwest of Cairo).

This year the mission located and studied 154 rectangular shaped tombs with rounded corners partly dug in compact sand and partly cut in rock. Their depth ranged from 1.5 and 1.7 m and each contained an unpainted wooden sarcophagus with an anthropoid mask on the lid and a cartonage inside covering the head, shoulders and feet of the mummy. In one of the graves an intact mummy of a young lady was found while

four Ptolemaic graves, which appeared to have been looted, contained the lids of painted coffins along with mummies with their feet torn off.

"Despite these mummies being footless they are very well preserved and wearing gilded masks," says Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the SCA .The eastern side of the necropolis, the site of Graeco-Roman burials, contained three more mummies, this time wrapped with eight layers of linen and tied with ropes. These corpses, explained Hawass, were mummified using much cheaper materials than in the first type of burial.

See the above page for more details, including a photograph of one of the mummy masks.

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