Mummified remains of dozens of ancient Egyptian men, women, and children have been revealed at a newly discovered tomb in southeast Egypt alongside artifacts, funerary supplies, and a bird-human hybrid statue dating back to the late Pharaonic Graeco-Roman periods between 332 BCE and 395 BC.
According to the Ministry of Antiquities in Egypt, the tomb was cut into the rock and hidden behind a stone wall with the bodies of both children and adults found in multiple chambers. Stairs surrounded partly by sculpted blocks led to a chamber containing funerary materials, while the entrance was closed by a stone wall that had been erected over the stairs, said Mostafa Waziri, General Secretary of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. More than 30 mummies were found in the main room, including several children, with two other mummies in a side room (possibly a mother and child) and four other mummies found in a structure alongside jars containing food.
Researchers also found parts of a painted wooden coffin that includes invocations to Egyptian goddesses and god Satet, Anuket, and Hapy, the Nile god. All three are particularly associated with the yearly inundation, or flooding, of the Nile, that helped spread rich nutrients that made the land fertile, and was celebrated by the Egyptians as an annual holiday.
Inside a side chamber, researchers found offering vases and objects used in funerary proceedings, including a stretcher made of palm wood and linen that would have been used to transport mummies into the tomb. At the entrance of the room, vessels with bitumen were discovered alongside cartonnage, a fabric that was “beautifully colored” and often used in funerary practices. A round-topped coffin was excavated from directly in the rock floor, with fragments of painted wood indicating it may have belonged to a person named Tjit.
Funerary masks painted with gold were discovered, as well as white cartonnage that was “ready to be painted.”
Perhaps most interesting was the discovery of a statuette of Ba-bird, a half-bird half-human statue representing the “soul of the deceased,” said lead researcher Patrizia Piacentini.
Her team has successfully mapped around 300 tombs in the Mausoleum of Aga Khan site in Aswan, on the Nile, with 25 just in the last four years alone.