The Secrets of the Valley of the Golden
The excavation at Bahariya Oasis in March of 1999 was amazing. The discovery of
105 mummies in “ The Valley of the Golden Mummies” became the most famous
discovery in Egypt occurring before the beginning of the new millennium. Never
before has such a large Number of perfectly preserved mummies been found in
Egypt. This unique group, which dates to the Greco – Roman, exhibits a variety
of styles and a range of social status. The mummies are lavishly gilded from
head to chest, reminiscent of Tutankhamun . I estimate that the entire cemetery
, which may cover nearly four square miles, contains up to 10,000 mummies and
will take fifty years to excavate.
“ The Valley of the Golden Mummies” I used to stay most of the time where
the main camp of the expedition is located. There are two main tents with
another area for the guards and the x-ray lab. Our team stayed almost two
months, and we did not see a report at all during this time. I believe this is
why the discovery did not make any publicity outside of Egypt. The exception was
the fox Network program that was televised live on the 23rd of May which showed
only three tombs.
The site continued to be divided into 10 meter x 10 meter squares for
excavation. The excavation this year started to the west of the tombs that we
dug last year. We excavated only seven tombs this year while last year we
uncovered four tombs with 105 mummies inside. This year, we excavated rock-cut
tombs with many different architectural styles, including the shape of the ankh
sign, the tombs of a cross, a single horizontal axis with various burial
chambers on the sides, and tombs cut into the rock for the burial of one person.
Different types of mummies were excavated, most of them encased with gold or
The first tomb, designated I/A,B, is the largest tomb ever discovered in the
valley . it is a group burial consisting of one family of different generations.
We found 42 mummies in this tomb. The tomb consists of the following
Entrance on the north leading to stairs.
Small room for delivery of the mummy (before being put in chosen place for
Burial hall in a rectangular shape.
7 niches for burials.
There are seven niches cut into the sides of the hall, three each on the east and west sides with one on the south. Nine mummies were found in one of the niches on the west side. The mummy of a lady was discovered in this niche in beautiful condition wearing a golden mask. A cobra is depicted on the forehead of the lady. The royal symbols of the pharaohs, such as the cobra, nemes , and the false beard, were taken over by the rich in the Greco-Roman Period. The chest of the lady is covered with cartonnage, which is painted yellow and has scenes of the four sons of Hours. Another mummy, no.7, is a lady covered with linen in a geometric design and found inside a wooden coffin. A stela was discovered on the feet of the mummy. It is made of wood and represents the eternal gate of the deceased. The lady is depicted in the middle of the gate with her right leg in front as if she is leaving or going to her resurrection. She wears a Roman dress typical of this period.
The second niche has only three mummies. On the second mummy were found eyes
made of blue glass with the eyelid represented. Three big wine jars and a bowl
full of ashes were discovered in the eastern niches. Most of the mummies
represent young people, including the mummy of a child who could be around two
In one niche, the mummy of a lady was covered with beautiful geometric linen
bandaging. A mask was found on hear head, which has a unique hairstyle. At the
back, her hair is in a round shape similar to a cake. We call this style today-
the cake style.
One style of tomb contains a large anthropoid coffin made of pottery in one
niche. The coffin is decorated in yellow with mummy found inside. We also found
another mummy placed behind a wall. Obviously, they tried to hide it.
Excavation continued in Kilometer no.7. I believe that the tombs in this area
should be dated to the Greek Period because they are near the Temple of
Alexander the Great. The tomb that we excavated has a unique architectural
style. Most of the mummies have deteriorated, and it seems that the tomb was
entered in antiquity. We will continue excavation in this area next season.
Much information concerning the burial practices in “ The Valley of the Golden Mummies “ can be obtained from the eleven tombs excavated thus far. This includes burial in pottery coffins, an anthropoid coffin, and in a mudbrick mastaba. For the first time, we can determine from this excavation that we have many different styles of mummies. There are mummies completely covered with linen and cartonnage colored from head to foot; mummies covered with linen with a mask of gypsum placed on the face; mummies with masks of gold with scenes of the gods; and mummies covered only with linen without cartonnage or masks.
This season, we brought the x-ray machine to the site. We were able to find
evidence of many diseases, such as cancer.
Offerings were also discovered in the tombs which were given to the deceased on
religious occasions, including wine, dates, figs, beans, olives, and others.
We also excavated funerary equipment that assured the perpetuation of the deceased in the afterlife. We found pottery vessels used in the daily life as well afterlife, jewelry, statues, and coins. The coins are made of bronze and were placed in the hand of the deceased to give as payment to the ferryman who will transfer the deceased into the afterlife.
The excavation revealed much information about life and death of the Egyptians
who lived in Bahariya during the Greco-Roman Period since 332B.C. the people
became rich through the exportation of wine to the Nile Valley since pharaonic
times. Egyptian texts mention that the wine from Bahariya was excellent.
Bahariya was also important because it served as a border of Egypt.
The third season at “The Valley of the Golden Mummies” started two weeks ago
and we will continue until the end of April.
RETURN to the Plateau