CAIRO: Archaeologists have discovered 16 new tombs at the ancient Egyptian Taposiris Magna Temple in Alexandria, one of which contains a mummy bearing a gold tongue. Researchers say ancient Egyptians believed that such an accessory enabled the deceased to speak in the afterlife. Both the tongue and the mummy’s skeleton were found to be in good condition.
The Egyptian-Dominican mission of the Santo Domingo University, headed by Kathleen Martinez, contributed to the discovery. The university has been working on the site for nearly a decade.
Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced last June the new archaeological find in the coastal city. The 16 burials are in the Lockley stone-carved tombs, which were popular in Greco-Roman antiquity.
The ministry said that several of the mummies are in a poor state of preservation but nonetheless serve to highlight the characteristics of mummification in classical antiquity. The stone funerary masks are still intact, allowing the team to see what each person looked like.
Burial corridors, dating back 2,000 years and containing the remains of the deceased within a mountain or natural rock formation, were common in the Greco-Roman period.
The other 15 tombs also date back about 2,000 years. One contains a female mummy wearing a death mask, which covers most of her body and portrays her smiling and donning a head covering.
Two more mummies were found with the remains of scrolls, which scientists are currently analyzing and deciphering.
Inside the temple, the team of archaeologists had previously discovered several coins engraved with the face of Queen Cleopatra VII, indicating that she ruled at the time when several individuals were buried in the tombs.
Statues and temple grounds reveal that King Ptolemy IV built the temple.