History Files


Ancient Egypt

Burial Ground of the Golden Mummies

BBC News, 14 June 1999



Archaeologists in Egypt have announced the discovery of at least 200 mummies, some of them with golden masks, in a huge cemetery in the Western Desert.

The burial ground, near a desert oasis, is believed to contain more than 10,000 mummies, making it the biggest ever uncovered according to Egypt's Middle East News Agency.

The area, within the city of Bawiti, 300 kilometres (185 miles) south-west of Cairo, has been renamed "Valley of the Mummies", it added.

Fifty mummies were found in each of four rooms in the six-mile long cemetery which dates back to the early Graeco-Roman era 2,000 years ago.

This was the time at which the Hellenic Ptolemies were losing their power in the face of increasing Roman domination of the Middle East and Africa.

They included wealthy people and some rulers, Gaballah Ali Gaballah, head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities said.


Cairo and Giza antiquities director Zahi Hawass said the first 200 mummies were uncovered after a four-year excavation.

He told the news agency that some of the mummies wore golden masks ''with magnificent designs of ancient Egyptian divinities on their chests''.

Others were coated in plaster or covered with linen and some lay in terracotta sarcophagi bearing representations of the human head.

Mr Hawass said work would continue until the rest were uncovered, even though it seems that Egypt has so many mummies that the antiquities department sometimes cannot keep up.



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