Egypt unveils 2,500-year-old mummy at forgotten cemetery

This picture taken on April 5, 2019 mummies on display outside a newly-discovered tomb dating to the Ptolemaic era (323-30 BC) at the Diabat necropolis near the city of Akhmim in Egypt's southern Sohag province, about 500 kilometres south of the capital Cairo. (AFP)
Updated 08 April 2019

Egypt unveils 2,500-year-old mummy at forgotten cemetery

  • Zahi Hawass and an Egyptian team opened three sealed sarcophagi from the 26th Dynasty
  • Egyptian archaeologists discovered the site a year and a half ago and the excavation is continuing

CAIRO: Millions of viewers around the world watched on live TV on Monday as a team of Egyptian archaeologists opened a 2,500-year-old tomb containing the mummified remains of a high priest and two other mummies. The historic event was shown as it happened on “Expedition Unknown: Egypt Live,” which was broadcast simultaneously on the Discovery Channel, Travel Channel and Science Channel.

“The adventure in archaeology makes me totally forget the pain,” said renowned Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass as he walked through tunnels at Al-Ghorifa in Middle Egypt, about 165 miles south of Cairo, to the sarcophagus, which is part of a large complex of chambers, tunnels and tombs. He was accompanied by Josh Gates, the host of “Expedition Unknown.”

“The tomb is of great importance for two reasons, as it wasn’t opened before and it is for a full ancient Egyptian family,” Hawass said.

In addition to the remains of the high priest, viewers watched as two other mummies were discovered, those of a man and a woman. The remains of the man, who is thought to have been a singer in a temple of an Egyptian god known as Thoth, were found in a family tomb. In addition to the large sarcophagus for the father, it contained the remains of his wife and three children. There was also a sixth skeleton, belonging to another family member.

“This tomb shows the strength of the bond between the family members in ancient Egyptian civilization,” said Hawass.

The archaeologists also found the skeleton of a dog in the family tomb which, Hawass said, reflected the tradition of ancient Egyptians burying their pets with them. King Amenhotep, he noted, built two tombs just for his pets.

Colorful canopic jars, used by the ancient Egyptians during the mummification process to store and preserve the internal organs of their owners, were also found in the family tomb The team also found a Senet, a board game the rules of which are the subject of conjecture.

“Tell your children that you touched an ancient game, dating back to 2,500 B.C,” Hawass told Gates.

TV presenter Chris Jacobs and Dr. Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt, provided commentary during the live broadcast.

Waziri was particularly excited about the discovery of a mysterious wax mask which is thought to have been cast from the high priest.

“We have been excavating at this site for about a year and a half; however, this is the first time we have found a wax mask,” he said.

There were plenty of reactions on social media to the discoveries.

“Tweets show that numerous people around the world are eagerly following the discovery, and how Egyptian civilization has great treasures and history,” said Waziri.

Archaeologist Sarah Ahmed noted that the high priest enjoyed a special status, as clearly reflected by his tomb.

“The sarcophagus is for a priest described as ‘The Great of Five’ and he was the priest for Nit (goddess of weaving, war, and hunting) and the major goddess Hathor,” she added.

“The eye-catching wrapped body was covered with gold from the feet to the chest. Among the golden objects, there were ones depicting the goddess Isis and the four children of god Horus.

“Inside the tomb, interesting secrets were revealed. The place included a jar with mummification materials, a fact that proves that the priest was mummified privately.”

Sierra Kristen, a student, wrote on Twitter: “Watching Expedition Unknown program with my family made us all excited to see what is found and learn more about Egypt.”

Kosovan women returned from Syria face house arrest

Updated 24 April 2019

Kosovan women returned from Syria face house arrest

  • Four alleged militants, all men, were arrested the moment they were brought to the country
  • The state prosecution said all 32 repatriated women are under investigation

PRISTINA: Kosovo prosecutors have requested the house arrest of 16 women repatriated from Syria, saying they are suspected of joining or taking part as foreign fighters there.

The women appeared on Wednesday in court in Pristina, a day after 10 other women were put under house arrest. None have been charged with a crime.

Four alleged militants, all men, were arrested the moment they were brought to the country.

The women and children were sent to the Foreign Detention Centre in the outskirts of Pristina but were freed to go home after 72 hours.

Ten women were seen entering Pristina Basic Court in a police escort on Tuesday. The court said in a statement later that they had been placed under house arrest on charges of joining foreign armed groups and terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq from 2014 to 2019.

The state prosecution said all 32 repatriated women are under investigation and more of them are expected to appear in front of judges on Wednesday. The prosecution has yet to file charges.

After the collapse of Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq, countries around the world are wrestling with how to handle militants and their families seeking to return to their home countries.

Kosovo's population is nominally 90 percent Muslim, but the country is largely secular in outlook. More than 300 of its citizens travelled to Syria since 2012 and 70 men who fought alongside militant groups were killed.

Police said 30 Kosovan fighters, 49 women and eight children remain in the conflict zones. The government said it plans to bring back those who are still there.

International and local security agencies have previously warned of the risk posed by returning fighters. In 2015, Kosovo adopted a law making fighting in foreign conflicts punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

On Saturday, 110 Kosovar citizens — the four alleged foreign fighters, 32 women and 74 children — were returned to Kosovo with assistance from the United States, the first such move for a European country.

Authorities say there are still 87 Kosovar citizens in Syria.