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Swedish Archaeologists Discover 12 Ancient Egyptian Cemeteries near Aswan | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Skeletal and animal remains are seen at one of 12 newly discovered ancient Egyptian cemetaries dating back to the New Kingdom era at Gabal al-Silsila or Chain of Mountains area in Upper Egypt, north of Aswan, January 11, 2017, in this handout picture courtesy of the Ministry of Antiquities. The Ministry of Antiquities/Handout via Reuters

The Egyptian-Swedish archaeological mission from Lund University has unearthed a dozen burial sites near the southern city of Aswan that date back almost 3,500 years to the New Kingdom era of ancient Egypt, the Antiquities Ministry said on Wednesday.

Human and animal remains were found in the cemeteries, which were discovered in the Gabal al-Silsila or Chain of Mountains area 65 km (40.3 miles) north of Aswan and would have been used during the reigns of pharaohs Thutmose III and Amenhotep II.

The Swedish mission, headed by Maria Nilsson and John Ward, discovered in 2015 a series of tombs located in the north of Gebel Al-Silsila’s east bank, in the area immediately to the north of the famous stele of King Amenhotep IV and stretching westwards to the Nile.

“While the tombs had been described by previous visitors to the site, no comprehensive survey, nor any proper archaeological work, had been conducted until 2015,” Nilsson said, adding that during the initial survey, 43 tombs were identified, and five tombs were chosen to be cleared of sand and a damaging layer of salt, in order to study their state of conservation.

It is hoped the burial sites will help historians better understand ancient Egyptian healthcare and give a boost to Egypt’s struggling tourism industry, which has been beset by political upheaval and militant attacks since the unseating of autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

In addition to the tombs themselves, the excavation revealed finely dressed sandstone sarcophagi, sculptured and occasionally painted pottery coffins, painted cartonnage, textile and organic wrapping, ceramic vessels and plates, as well as an array of jewelry, amulets and scarabs, Mahmoud Afify, the ministry’s head of Ancient Egyptian Antiquities, said in a statement. Totems and scorpions were also found.

The expedition from Sweden’s Lund University began in 2012. In 2015 it discovered the remains of an ancient temple also in Gabal al-Silsila.

Initial examinations revealed several complete bodies as well as evidence of malnutrition and broken bones that were the result of heavy labor, the ministry quoted Nilsson as saying.

Further studies are expected to reveal the social rankings of those buried there and what exactly what purpose the uncovered cemeteries served.