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
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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.”


Iraqi forces launch anti-Daesh operation north of Baghdad

Updated 20 July 2019
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Iraqi forces launch anti-Daesh operation north of Baghdad

  • The mainly Shiite PMF have been an effective force against Daesh
  • This is the second phase of the operation dubbed “Will to Victory”

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s military said Saturday its troops in partnership with security agencies and paramilitary forces launched the second phase of an operation aimed at clearing remnants of the Daesh group from north of Baghdad and surrounding areas.
This is the second phase of the operation dubbed “Will to Victory,” which started two weeks earlier and targeted the area along the border with Syria. The military said the new target area is north of Baghdad and in the Diyala, Salahuddin and Anbar provinces.
Although Iraq declared victory against Daesh in July 2017, the extremists have turned into an insurgency and continue to carry out deadly attacks in the country.
The military said Iraqi troops, Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces, the federal police and others are taking part in the operation supported by the Iraqis and the U.S-led international coalition.
On Saturday, Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi visited the operation room alongside the deputy head of the PMF, Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis.
Earlier this month, the Iraqi government moved to place the Iranian-backed militias under the command of the armed forces. The move was believed to be an attempt to curb the powerful militias, particularly amid rising tension between Iran and the US, the power brokers in Iraq.
The mainly Shiite PMF have been an effective force against Daesh and are a significant political force, with government ministers and 48 seats in the 329-member parliament.