An ancient necropolis consisting of 53 rock-cut tombs dating back to the Middle (ca. 2061-1786 BC) and New (ca. 1569-1081 BC) Kingdoms and the 22nd Dynasty (ca. 931-725 BC) has been discovered by an Egyptian archaeological mission sponsored by the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA). The necropolis lies in the southeastern part of the pyramid field of Lahun in Egypt’s Faiyum region.
Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosni announced the discovery, adding that the tombs vary in their designs. Some have a single burial shaft, while others have a shaft leading to an upper chamber, from which an additional shaft leads to a second lower chamber. Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the SCA, said that excavations inside these tombs revealed wooden coffins containing linen-wrapped mummies covered in cartonnage. The decoration and inscriptions on the mummy trappings have been well-preserved.
Dr. Hawass added that the charred remains of a number of coffins were also recovered. They were probably burned during the Coptic Period. Among these coffins, the team found 15 painted masks, along with amulets and clay pots.
Dr. Abdel-Rahman El-Ayedi, supervisor of Antiquities for Middle Egypt, and the head of the mission said that a Middle Kingdom funerary chapel with an offering table was also found. Preliminary study revealed that the chapel was reused in subsequent periods, perhaps as late as the Roman era (30 BC-337 AD). Clay coffins and bronze and copper jewelry dating to the Roman era, as well as a collection of well-preserved faience amulets, were also recovered.
Much earlier, UCLA archeologists digging in the area revealed an intact Neolithic settlement and the remnants of a Graeco-Roman village in Faiyum.The site, previously excavated by Gertrude Caton-Thompson in 1925, who found several Neolithic remains, revealed a settlement that includes remains of mud-brick walls as well as clay fragments in the particular historic era. Faiyum’s Neolithic had so far been considered as one period but this view may have to change as the results of the study reveal it might be dated to different periods within the Neolithic times. Lay-out of the Qaret Al-Rusas Roman village, on the northeastern side of Lake Qarun shows clear wall lines and streets in an orthogonal pattern typical of the Graeco-Roman period.
The recent finds only prove there’s more to this humble Egyptian town that has limited tourist attractions, thus far.