This photo shows only a few of the 110 tombs discovered in Egypt. Credit: Egyptian Tourism and Antiquities Ministry via AP

Egypt Announces Discovery of 8,000-Year-Old Burial Tombs—10 Things You Should Know

Archaeologists excavated a total of 110 burial tombs from three different eras.

During excavations in the Dakahlia governorate in Egypt, archaeologists discovered 110 burial tombs dating back to the eras of pre-dynastic Egypt and Hyksos rule. The discovery was reported by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

History and background

In the pre-dynastic period, the original Eneolithic Buto Maadi culture flourished in the Nile Delta, named after several significant archaeological sites in the southern suburb of Cairo Maadi and the ancient city of Buto (Per-Wadjet) east of modern Alexandria.

The monuments of this culture (the remains of oval buried buildings, stone and ceramic vessels, carnelian beads in burials) date back to about 4000 to 3500–3400 BC. In the second half of the 4th millennium BC, the influence of the Upper Egyptian cultural tradition gradually spread to the settlements of the Nile delta, which in the period of Naqada III (about 3200 – 3000 BC), finally supplanted the local culture.

Since the strong religious and political centers of the south (Hierakonpolis, Abydos, Thinis) were formed within the powerful cultural complex of Naqada, it largely determined the appearance of the ancient Egyptian civilization.

Lower Egypt developed later, more than one and a half thousand years after the unification. Apparently, even the crisis of the First Transitional Period (XXII – XXI centuries BC), accompanied by the disintegration of the state and the raids of nomadic Asian tribes, did not introduce significant foreign borrowings into the culture of the northern regions of the Nile Valley.

However, by the end of the Middle Kingdom, the situation was already different: a large number of immigrants from Western Asia – the Hyksos – penetrated into the Delta, and the appearance of mobile chariot troops among the inhabitants of Syria and Canaan contributed to the success of military invasions across the Isthmus of Suez.

In the middle of the 17th century BC, during the next disintegration of the country, known as the Second Intermediate Period, the Hyksos leaders founded their own dynasty of rulers and extended their power to the territory of Lower and Middle Egypt. According to most scholars, the result of the Hyksos dominion, which lasted for about a century, resulted in numerous changes in various aspects of Egyptian life.

These included innovations in military affairs (chariots, composite bows, and other types of weapons, as well as protective equipment), in crafts and agriculture, linguistic borrowings, the penetration of West Semitic cults into Egypt. Therefore, the relatively short Hyksos period is of particular interest to Egyptologists as an important milestone in the history of the country.

10 Things You Should Know About the Discovery of 110 Burial Tombs in Egypt

1. Excavations at the site of an ancient settlement in the Kom al-Khaljan region in the Dakahlia governorate in the northeastern Nile Delta have brought the discovery of many burial sites as pre-dynastic and the Hyksos periods.

2. Out of the 110 new burial tombs discovered in Egypt, 68 graves were dated to the Buto Maadi era (6000-3150 B.C.), five to the Nakada III period (3200 B.C. to 3000 B.C.), and 37 to the Second Intermediate Period and the Hyksos reign (1782-1570 B.C.).

3. The oldest graves belonging to the Buto Maadi culture are located in oval pits carved into the sandy soil. People were buried in crumpled positions, head to the west, most often on the left side.

4. In one of the graves, archaeologists found the remains of a baby and a small earthen pot, buried in a ceramic vessel from the late Buto Maadi phase.

5. The graves of the Naqada III period are also arranged in the form of oval depressions, but they contain more grave goods, which indicates the development of ideas about the afterlife (possibly influenced by the southern cultural tradition).

6. The funeral gifts consisted of cylindrical and pear-shaped vessels; in one of the burials, scientists found a bowl with a geometric ornament and several crystals of antimonite.

7. Two of the graves were carefully coated with a layer of clay, which may indicate the higher status of the deceased.

8. Most of the Hyksos burials – 31 out of 37 – are rectangular pits 20 to 85 centimeters deep. The dead were also laid with their heads to the west, but in an extended position, face up. Burial items – small ceramic vessels – were placed near the head; a silver earring was found in one grave.

9. Scientists also discovered a typical Hyksos burial of a child in a Canaanite amphora; two other children’s tombs were lined with bricks.

10. In addition to the 110 burial tombs in Egypt, archaeologists found flint knives, remains of furnaces and brick buildings, as well as jewelry and amulets made of semiprecious stone and faience.

Field research on the territory of the settlement is still far from complete, and scientists expect to make new discoveries over the course of further excavations. You can see more images from the discovery on the Facebook page of the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities here.

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Independent. (2021, April 27). Egypt archeologists Unearth 110 ancient tombs in Nile Delta. (2021, April 27). Egypt archeologists Unearth 110 ancient tombs in Nile Delta.

Written by Vladislav Tchakarov

Hello, my name is Vladislav and I am glad to have you here on Curiosmos. As a history student, I have a strong passion for history and science, and the opportunity to research and write in this field on a daily basis is a dream come true.

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