Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- The dream of finding treasure under one’s house is something that has always existed across the length and breadth of Egypt. Every person in every village or city [in Egypt] imagines themselves finding the ancient treasures of the pharaohs underneath their houses. In fact, people have killed each other as a result of this, with brothers killing brothers, and in the end, they die together under the rubble, with the imaginary treasure remaining where it is.
We also hear stories of djinn guarding treasures, and according to folk tales, mercury can be used to control and command such djinn, and of course there is the word “mummy” which now seems to have an almost magical effect on people. Con artists and fraudsters use the dream of hidden treasure as a means of conning people, and every day we hear news that somebody has found buried treasure under their home, only for archeological survey to reveal such claims to be myths or products of the imagination. This is something that has taken place a number of times [in the past] and of course there was the story of the two brothers that quarreled and almost killed each other in a fight over non-existent treasure under a house left to them by their father [after his death].
Whilst in the Egyptian village of Nazla al-Samman, which is located in the eastern region of the Gaza plateau, a group of people began digging under one of their homes looking for treasure, in the shadow of the pyramid of Khufu. This group dug diligently and tenaciously – if only all Egyptians worked as hard as this Egypt would be amongst the greatest nations in the world – digging to a depth of 20 meters. However due to the heat one of this group volunteered to climb out of the hole and bring an electric fan to circulate the air, but on his climb out of the hole his leg smashed through one of the planks of wood that was being used to support the sides of the hole, causing the hole to quickly fill with sand. All attempts to rescue those trapped in this hole failed, and six adventurers died before they could reach the treasure that they desired.
Excavations have been ongoing in this region, particularly since 1977, when a tomb was discovered 20 meters underground containing the remains of a number of mummies and coffins in poor condition, however of course no treasure of gold or silver, or even iron, was found, as these tombs were all looted centuries ago.
Thousands of tombs have been discovered in the region around the Pyramids, but not one such tomb was discovered untouched, as all of these tombs were looted in the distant past. The single discovery was that of the tomb of Queen Hetepheres, the mother of King Khufu, who built the Great Pyramid of Giza. The contents of her tomb were found buried inside a simple well shaft. We still hear many fairy tales regarding buried treasure in the Nile Delta region, whether this is in the Monufia or al-Sharqiya governorate. This week we heard news from Damietta governorate, where pranksters sent a number of messages to officials, with messages like “You must visit your mother immediately because she has discovered an ancient archeological treasure.” In fact, some officials even asked us to investigate this, but of course when we visited the locations mentioned in the messengers, we found nothing…
Since I was put in charge of antiquities [in Egypt] I have met with a number of journalists and friends who have introduced me to people from Upper Egypt or the Nile Delta who claim that there are tombs or ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics [on their property], however of course not one true archeological discovery was made [following further investigation]. The stories that reach us about treasure are illusions; ridiculous stories believed by many people without evidence, ignorance and greed have always been the motives behind such desires. The obsessions for discovering hidden treasure today remains…and perhaps this is an obsession that will never stop.