Chief archaeologist announces fresh discoveries

Ahmed Maged
5 Min Read

CAIRO: Some of the new mummies that have been unearthed of late are likely to be those of ancient Egypt’s most controversial royals, announced Zahi Hawass, head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Egypt’s chief archaeologist, who spoke on Wednesday to a packed hall at the American University in Cairo, noted that the mummies that are awaiting confirmation of scanning tests are among some of the new discoveries in the field of archaeology. This is in addition to a number of new findings from excavations which were carried out in Heliopolis and the Valley of the Kings, Luxor.

Hawass also said that four doors that have been pinpointed inside the big pyramid could also reveal some of the secrets of that ancient wonder.

He pointed out that the controversial mummies are thought to be those of Queen Hatshepsut, the only female ruler in ancient Egypt, whose mummy was found in Al Deir El Bahari along with that of her father Thotmous I.

Hawass continued: “But the result of scanning will be announced on July 15 when tests are completed, along with a thorough examination of the mummies of her brother and husband Thotmous II and Thotmous III that will also be tested for purposes of comparison.

Hawass also said that a tomb tucking away at a Ptolomite site near Alexandria could be sheltering the mummies of Antony and Cleopatra, the most famous Greek lovers of all time.

“Initially we approached the site bearing in mind that it could be holding the tomb of Alexander the Great but new evidence suggested that those two famous royals could also be buried at this site.

“The problem is that the tomb in question is dangerously located at higher depths underground. The necessary preparations should me made before we start the real excavations.

As for discoveries within the big pyramid, Hawass said that the council is waiting for the arrival of the robot required to infiltrate the edifice and provide data.

Hawass also announced that a temple belonging to King Ramses II, as well as a number of other tombs, were unearthed in Heliopolis.

“The temple was unearthed on a plot of land on which a shopping mall was going to be constructed. However, the owners will be compensated and I would like to note that the residents of the area were so happy and honored to have such a finding in their district, as the general impression is that the residents of these areas are disturbed by excavators who might claim their property in case any monuments are found.

Hawass also spoke of a tomb that was discovered in the Valley of the Kings, Luxor, near that of King Tutankhamen, the youngest of all ancient Egyptian royals.

Seven coffins were found in this tomb but when opened only materials used for mummification were stored inside the deceased’s boxes.

“But the interest in that particular tomb had been generated by the fact that it neighbored that of the young controversial royal.

“We believe those were the materials used to preserve King Tut, an incident that intrigued me so much that I decided to scan the mummy of King Tut that still lies in the Valley of the Kings, said Hawass.

He added: “I accessed the tomb at the end of the day when all tourists had already left. But to my surprise, when I reached the site of the tomb, I found a team from Japanese TV. But on that day I also began to seriously believe in the Pharaohs’ curse, for a sandstorm blew to scare away the media team. When I put the mummy on the scan, the machine suddenly stopped.

“Finally the tests revealed that the king had died of a serious injury to his back. The hole in his skull, believed to be the result of an injury, was made by mummifiers to stuff his head with preserving materials, said Hawass.

“King Tut’s mummy was dissected by Carter, the British Egyptologist who first discovered the tomb in the 1920s. This was the only way for him to clear it from the gold coffin that enveloped it along with other coffins, he said.

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