4,000-year-old elite tomb unearthed in Luxor

Margie Jones

Elite tomb in Luxor

Spanish archaeologists carrying out excavations in the Egyptian city of Luxor have discovered an 11 th dynasty tomb of considerable size, suggesting it belonged to a member of the royal family or someone who held a high position in the royal court.  It is hoped that a thorough study of the tomb may provide insights into this pivotal period in ancient Egyptian history, in which Upper and Lower Egypt were united under pharaonic rule.

The 4,000-year-old tomb was found in the Dra Abu el-Naga necropolis, located on the West Bank of the Nile in the ancient city of Thebes, now modern-day Luxor.  Human remains were found scattered around the burial chamber, at the end of a 20-metre long underground entranceway. The tomb also contained pottery dating to the 17 th dynasty, about 400 years later, suggesting that the tomb was reused.

“The dimensions are considerable, leaving no doubt that the tomb belonged to a member of the royal family or a senior courtier,” according to a news release issued Monday by Jose Galan, leader of the  Djehuty Project  excavation.

Excavation - Dra Abu el-Naga necropolis

Archaeologists conducting an excavation at Dra Abu el-Naga necropolis. Credit: CSIC

Galan said the tomb in the Dra Abu el-Naga necropolis dates back to the 11th Dynasty (c 2125 to 1991 BC), a period in which Upper and Lower Egypt were reunited following an era of week pharaonic power and decentralization after the collapse of the Old Kingdom.

The Necropolis of Dra Abu el-Naga is one of the longest occupied necropolises of Ancient Egypt; it was used as a burial place almost continuously between the Middle Kingdom and the early Christian (Coptic) periods, spanning around 2,500 years.  To date, more than 160 tombs of royals, dignitaries, officials, and priests have been uncovered. Dra Abu el-Naga’s significance as a holy burial ground, which increased with the presence of the royal tomb complexes, resulted primarily from its position directly opposite the Temple of Karnak, which is known to have been the main cult centre of Amun from the Middle Kingdom and became one of Ancient Egypt’s most important temples during the New Kingdom.

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