An Egyptian archaeological expedition has opened a tomb in Luxor which has yielded a wealth of major discoveries. According to Egyptian news outlet Ahram Online, the tomb has been known since the early twentieth century but archaeologists have only recently been able to locate its entrance and explore the inner chambers of the tomb.
The tomb was built during the 18th Dynasty (1550–1298 BC) in the Valley of the Kings and was owned by a judge named Userhat. The 18th Dynasty is perhaps the most well-known and studied dynasties in ancient Egypt. 18th Dynasty pharaohs include Tutankhamun, Hatshepsut (the longest-reigning woman pharaoh), and Akhenaten the “heretic pharaoh,” best known for his wife, queen Nefertiti. At some point during the 21st Dynasty around 3,000 years ago, more mummies were added during a period in which tomb-robbing was common.
The excavation of the tomb is still underway, but Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany says the find is remarkable because of the massive collection of funerary treasures found in the relatively untouched tomb:
It was a surprise how much was being displayed inside. We found a large number of Ushabti [small carved figurines], more than 1,000 of them. This is an important discovery.
These figurines were placed in tombs in order to act as servants for the deceased in the underworld. The tomb contains ten wooden coffins, wooden funerary masks, and a bounty of pottery made of wood, terracotta, and other ceramics. Eight of the coffins have been found to contain mummies wrapped in linen, but their identities remain unknown.
The tomb comprised a central chamber with two wings in which the coffins were found. Another nine-meter shaft leading off of the main chamber has been discovered, but so far it remains unexplored. Finds like these make you wonder, though: is it right to dig up and open the tombs of these ancient Egyptians? Weren’t they meant to be hallowed resting places for the dead? How is archaeology any different from defiling or robbing graves? Science sure is a good excuse for a lot of weird behavior.