Tombs of Late Period High Priests Discovered in al-Ghoreifa

Tombs of Late Period High Priests Discovered in al-Ghoreifa

Dr. Khaled El‑Enany, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, announced the Ministry's first archeological discovery of 2020. The discovery was made in the al-Ghoreifa area of the archeological site of Tuna al‑Gabal, in Minya Governorate, by the Egyptian archaeological mission headed by Dr. Moustafa Waziri, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. The mission uncovered several Late Period (664–332 BC) communal tombs of high priests of the god Thoth and senior officials in the Fifteenth Upper Egyptian Nome and its capital, al‑Ashmunein.

          Dr. Khaled El‑Enany said that Minya Governorate is still a largely unexplored area full of discoveries that are still waiting to be made. Since 2018 alone, four archeological discoveries have been announced, including a mummy cache and several tombs in Tuna al‑Gabal full of sarcophagi and funerary equipment. He also stressed the importance of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities’ archeological activities and touristic events in Minya, and their goal of making this area a popular tourist destination. To this end, many local and international media representatives were invited, and shown many of al‑Minya’s archeological sites, with their tour starting at Mallawi Museum, which was re‑opened in 2016.

          Dr. Moustafa Waziri explained that numerous discoveries have been made during the third season of the Egyptian archaeological mission’s work in al‑Ghoreifa. These include 16 tombs full of around 20 coffins and sarcophagi of various shapes and sizes, including 5 anthropoid coffins made of limestone and engraved with hieroglyphic texts, and five wooden coffins in a good state of preservation, some of which are decorated with the names and titles of their owners, in addition to more than 10,000 ushabti figurines made of blue and green faience, most of which are engraved with the name and titles of the deceased. The mission also found more than 700 amulets of various shapes, sizes and materials, including heart scarabs, amulets shaped like gods, others made of pure gold, and an amulet in the shape of a winged cobra. Many pottery vessels of various types used for funerary and religious purposes were unearthed as well, along with tools for cutting stones and moving coffins such as wooden hammers and baskets made of palm fronds. The discovery also includes eight groups of painted limestone canopic jars made of limestone inscribed with the name of its owner, Meryamun, and his title, the “singer of the god Thoth”. A further two groups of four canopic jars, made of alabaster, were unearthed as well, and also a group of stone uninscribed stone vessels representing the Four Sons of Horus.

          Dr. Moustafa Waziri pointed out that one of the discovered stone coffins belongs to Irethoreru, a priest of the god Osiris and the goddesses Nut and Hathor, and the overseer of domains. He was the son of Psamtik, the head of the royal treasury. Another discovered coffin belongs to a man named Horus. It bears a scene depicting the goddess Nut spreading her wings on the chest of the coffin. Below her, inscriptions mention the deceased's titles, especially the title of the royal treasurer. A third coffin, of a man named Ipy, bears three vertical lines of hieroglyphic text. The coffin of the Djed‑Djehuty‑iu‑ef‑ankh is made of well‑polished limestone. The titles inscribed on its lid make it one of the most important coffins discovered this season: They mention the titles “the royal treasurer”, “the seal‑bearer of Lower Egypt”, and “the sole companion of the king”. These were the titles that singled out the governors of Middle Egypt. The fifth sarcophagus, of a man named Was, is also inscribed with the name and titles of its owner, the most important of which was “the assistant”.

          These numerous discoveries were preceded by many more that were made in previous seasons, during which the Egyptian mission discovered 19 tombs containing 70 stone coffins of various shapes and sizes.