“This find is important for marketing. This is exactly what Egypt needs.”
That doesn’t sound like a typical announcement by Egypt’s antiquities minister, Khaled el-Enany, that archeologists have discovered a 3,500-year-old tomb “stuffed with mummies,” including a royal goldsmith and his family, but this is a country whose economy depends on tourism and that business has been hurt recently by government unrest, bombings and terrorist attacks. Will “Come for the sand, stay for the mummies!” be Egypt’s new tourism slogan?
“Modern Egypt is built on top of ancient Egypt. Until now we’ve only found 30 percent of the Egyptian monuments; 70 percent is still buried.”
It sounds like former Egyptian minister of antiquities, Zahi Hawass, is wishing he had his old job back to take advantage (or credit) for the expected surge of professional and amateur archeologists heading to Egypt after this latest find, announced this week, in the Draa Abul-Naga necropolis in what is now Luxor. The tomb appears to be from the 18th Dynasty of Egypt or the first Dynasty of the Ancient Egyptian New Kingdom period from 1549 BCE to 1292 BCE, whose most famous pharaoh was Tutankhamun and dominant dynasty was Amon-Re.
Artifacts in one shaft of the tomb indicate it was built for Amenemhat, a royal goldsmith. Those artifacts included statues of Amenemhat, his wife and one of their sons; wooden funerary masks and 150 ushabti figures — small statues placed in tombs to serve the dead. The shaft also contained three mummies, which have not yet been identified as Amenemhat and his family. Unfortunately, their heads were uncovered, which indicates someone had been in the tombs before. It’s possible that they were not looters but people who were reusing the tomb. A second shaft dates to the the 21st and 22nd dynasties and contained three additional mummies.
While Egyptian officials want this discovery to boost tourism, they’re wisely cautious in revealing what types of jewels or gold artifacts were found in the tomb of Amenemhat the royal goldsmith, other than to say that it contained four wooden sarcophagi, jewelry and 50 funerary cones, which are believed to identify other nobleman and their families possibly entombed there.
Was Amenemhat the Tiffany for Tut? It remains to be seen. In the meantime, the Ministry of Antiquities needs to work on some new tourism slogans. Luxor is for Lovers of Mummies?