Tomb with 50 mummies is Egypt’s 1st find of 2019

Egypt’s first archaeological finding of 2019 is a tomb containing 50 mummies from the Ptolemaic era (323-30 B.C.). A joint mission of the Research Centre for Archaeological Studies of Minya University and the Ministry of Antiquities unearthed the tomb at the Tuna El-Gebel necropolis in Minya province, about 210 miles south of Cairo.

The mummies were found in a series of rock-cut burial chambers 30 feet deep. It’s believed to be a large family grave and the mummification methods suggest they were members of the upper middle class. They are of different ages (12 of them children) and genders and in a relatively good state of preservation. Some were wrapped in linen and buried in the sand or inside niches. Others were placed in limestone coffins, still others in decorated wooden sarcophagi. Only fragments of painted cartonnage that once covered several of mummified bodies were discovered.

There are no names or hieroglyphic inscriptions in the tomb that might identify any of the deceased. Demotic handwriting was found on some of the linen wrappings; it has yet to be translated.

The preliminary dating of the tombs to the Ptolemaic era comes from ostraca and papyrus fragments found in the tomb. That needs to be confirmed, however, as it’s also possible that some of the burials date to the early Roman period.

While this is the most significant finding yet, the team began excavating at Tuna El-Gebel in February of 2018 and discovered a single rectangular chamber at the bottom of a sloping staircase containing multiple burials. On the west side was a chamber containing mummies and stone sarcophagi. On the north side was another burial chamber with stone sarcophagi placed in niches. These burials predated the most recent find. The style was typical of late New Kingdom and early New Intermediate Period tombs found at Tuna El-Gebel when it was the official necropolis of Upper Egypt’s 15th nome.

5 thoughts on “Tomb with 50 mummies is Egypt’s 1st find of 2019

  1. Those Ptolemaic Egyptians spoke and wrote Greek :yes:

    Isadora (“daughter of Isis”) was a wealthy girl during the time of emperor Antoninus Pius (AD 138–161), who ruled over Egypt. She had a boyfriend from Antinopolis (current Sheikh ‘Ibada), and they wanted to marry, but her father refused. Unfortunately, Isadora drowned while crossing the Nile, she was mummified, and her father built a tomb for her in Tuna El-Gebel, featuring a poem in Greek.

    After her death, however, a cult developed around her tomb. Isadora’s mummified remains are still present, encased in glass, in her mausoleum.


    Ὄντως αἱ Νύμφαι σοι ἐτεκτήναντ’, Ἰσιδώρα,
    Nymphs were fostering you, Isidora.

    Νύμφαι τῶν ὑδάτων θυγατέρες, θάλαμον.
    Nymphs as the daughters of water, down there.

    Πρεσβυτάτη Νίλοιο θυγατρῶν ἤρξατο, Νίλῳ
    Nile’s oldest daughter startet, to Nile himself,

    Κόγχον τευξαμένη βένθεσιν οἷον ἔχει,
    A mussel made as the ones in his own depth,

    Πατρὸς ἐνὶμ μεγάροισι θεητῆι οἷον ἰδέσθαι,
    As in her Fathers Megara showrooms is to be seen,

    Κρηναία δὲ Ὕλα σύνγαμος ἁρπαγίμου
    Like Krenaia entertaining Hy(l/n)os in secret

    Κείονας ἀμφοτέρωθεν, ἅτε σπέος, ἧχι καὶ αὐτὴ
    Enclosed to all sides, as in a cave, in which they are

    Πῆχυν ἄστυλον βαλτ(ο)φόρον κατέχει·
    Embraced without pillars it bears spots.

    Κρεινάμεναι δ’ ἄρα χῶρον Ὀρειάδες ἱδρύσαντο
    As Oreiades did then set a spot, for here to stay

    Ἱερὸν ὡς αὑτῶν μηδὲν ἀφαυρὸν ἔχῃς.
    A temple to theirs not at all feeble.

  2. It possibly helps to know here -what I did not know myself- that..

    the ‘Oreiades’ (or Oreads) are a class of ‘water nymphs’, while ‘Krenaia’ seems to be an incarnation of the goddess Athena. Contrastingly, μεγάροισι θεητῆι are her fathers representational, or (princely) living room(s), “her Fathers Megara showrooms”, As in her Fathers Megara showrooms is to be seen, whatever the nature of the mussels.

    –Possibly, he was in the coffin business :boogie:

  3. Greeks Go Home!!! :p – Ὀρειάδες are MOUNTAIN(!) nymphs, and have nothing to do withe ones in the Nile.

    Its -after her drowning- the cave and grave that matters, here.

  4. Me again :shifty: –Immaculate Conception, fair enough, but here some wood for my tree nymphs (and for some coffins as well):

    Turns out that, according to Pherenikos, ‘Krenaia’ is one of the tree nymphs (or ‘driads’), which results in the whole poem for our drowned and now mummified Egyptian daughter on the loose from what is now Tuna El-Gebel as this:

    Nymphs were fostering you, Isidora.
    Nymphs as the daughters of water, down there.
    Nile’s oldest daughter started, to Nile himself,
    A mussel to be made as the ones in his own depth,
    As in her Father’s reception rooms is to be seen,
    Like Krenaia receiving some wood* in secret
    Enclosed to all sides, as in a cave, in which they are
    Embraced without pillars it bears spots.
    As the Oreiads did then set a spot, for here to stay
    A temple to theirs not at all feeble.


    Thus, there are water-, tree- and hard rock nymphs. At closer inspection this Egyptian poem, despite all those nymphs, unfortunately seems rather modern. There is a certainly some rather ‘woody’ quality to it.


    (*) Aristotle explained that “By hyle I mean that which in itself is neither a particular thing nor of a certain quantity nor assigned to any other of the categories by which being is determined.” This means that hyle is brought into existence not due to its being its agent or its own actuality but only when form attaches to it. It is maintained that the Aristotelian concept should not be understood as a “stuff” since there is, for example, hyle that is intellectual as well as sensible hyle found in the body. [x/Hylos=Wood, though – ὑλόβιος = to live in the woods] – Maybe Isidora was pregnant and her father indeed an Egyptian coffin trader, but this remains guesswork, or at least ‘immaculate conception’.

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