Four Ancient Egyptian Cemeteries Discovered at El-Lahoun in the Fayoum

Funeral Equipment and Sarcophagus foundArchaeologists last week discovered 45 ancient Egyptian tombs at the site of El-Lahoun, in the Fayum. In a statement issued by the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni claims that a sarcophagus holding a mummy has been found in in each of the tombs, located about 70 miles from Cairo.

One of the tombs unearthed during the dig is from the 18th dynasty (1550-1295 BC), and contains at least 12 wooden sarcophagi stacked on top of each other. Each of these sarcophagi is thought to hold a mummy covered in cartonnage.

The mummies are decorated with religious texts from the Book of the Dead and scenes featuring different ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses.

Four cemeteries have also been discovered, the oldest dating to the 1st and 2nd Dynasty (ca. 2750-2649BC). Mission leader Dr Abdel Rahman El-Aydi says the cemetery is composed of fourteen tombs, with one of the burials found almost completely intact. All of its funerary equipment and a wooden sarcophagus with a linen-wrapped mummy were unearthed.

The second cemetery belongs to the 11th and 12th Dynasty (2030-1840BC.) Each tomb includes a painted wooden sarcophagus bearing a mummy covered with cartonnage. This was decorated with religious texts which help the deceased with their journey through the afterlife.

The third and fourth cemeteries are dated to the New Kingdom (1550-1070BC) and the Late Period (724-343BC) respectively.

Two intact foundation deposits of King Senusret II‘s mortuary temple at the southwest and southeast corners of the temple area were discovered earlier by the Hungarian El-Lahun Survey Project (blog). The shafts contained a high number of finds including pottery vessels.

The Fayum area gave its name to the ‘Fayum portraits’, beautiful Greco-Roman mummy portraits. Painted on wood during the models’ lifetimes, the portraitswere placed on the mummy after death. Pristine examples are the boy Eutyches and ‘L’Europeenne’.

Earlier this yearPtolemaic era bronze coins, whale fossils and prehistoric jewellery were discovered in the FayumOasis nearby.Last year 53 stone tombs from the Middle, New Kingdom, Late Period and Roman era were discovered.