Thursday, July 12, 2012

Learning more about the Middle Kingdom

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine El-Aref)

With photos.

The discovery of a Middle Kingdom burial of a member of the family of the Deir Al-Barsha governor has given Egyptologists some unique information on the scenario in which the ancient Egyptians conducted their funerary rituals.

Belgian archaeologists cleaning the newly discovered shaft inside Ahanakht I's tomb (top); a collection of copper vases and plates used in funerary rituals

Everything began as normal at this spring's archaeological season at the Deir Al-Barsha necropolis in Minya, which lasted from March to May. As usual, teams of workmen, archaeologists and restorers were busy on all parts of the site, digging and clearing the tombs of the village nomarchs (provincial governors) and searching for artefacts or monumental remains that could tell them more about the history of this particular period of ancient Egypt.

The site of the Deir Al-Barsha necropolis in the sandy gravel desert is famous for its rock-hewn tombs dating from the Middle Kingdom. Although part of the necropolis was investigated at the beginning of the 20th century by the American archaeologist George Reisner, no plans or detailed accounts of these excavations were ever published. Time has since taken its toll of the necropolis, and it was almost totally covered by sand.

In 2002 a Belgian archaeological mission from Leuven University started a magnetic survey there in an attempt to gain some insight into the overall organisation and social stratification of the necropolis.

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