A joint Egyptian-Dominican mission has announced the discovery of 16 burials in rock-cut tombs, or burial shafts, at the Temple of Taposiris Magna, west of Alexandria, Egypt.
The mission, headed by lawyer and archaeologist Kathleen Martinez, features experts from the University of Santo Domingo.
The type of rock-cut tombs discovered were popular in Egypt’s Greco-Roman era. A number of mummies were discovered in the shafts, although they are reportedly in a poor state of preservation.
The mummies feature the characteristics of mummification in the Greco-Roman era, and were found with the remnants of gilded sarcophagi, in addition to gold foil amulets. The latter were shaped in the form of a tongue, and placed in the mouth of the mummy in a special ritual to ensure their ability to speak before the Osirian court in the afterlife.
Martinez said that among the most important of these mummies were two that preserved the remains of scrolls and parts of the sarcophagi. The first was found with the remains of gilded decorations showing the Ancient Egyptian god Osiris, the god of the afterlife.
The other mummy was discovered wearing a crown decorated with horns, and the cobra snake at the forehead. The chest of the mummy shows a gilded decoration representing the wide necklace from which hangs the head of a falcon, the symbol of the ancient god Horus.
Khaled Abo El Hamd, Director General of the antiquities authority in Alexandria, said that during this season the mission made a number of archaeological discoveries. The most important of these were: a funeral mask for a woman; eight golden flakes representing the leaves of a golden wreath; and eight masks of marble dating back to the Greek and Roman eras.
Abo El Hamd noted that the masks, which depict the facial features of their owners, show high craftsmanship in sculpture.
In the last 10 years, the mission has found several important archaeological finds that have changed our perception of the Temple of Taposiris Magna.
A number of coins bearing the name and image of Queen Cleopatra VII were found inside the temple walls, in addition to many parts of statues. The temple grounds were found adorned in the past to reveal the temple foundation panels, which prove that it was built by King Ptolemy IV.