A necropolis consisting of 53 rock-cut tombs dating to the Middle (ca. 2061-1786 BC) and New (ca. 1569-1081 BC) Kingdoms and the 22nd Dynasty (ca. 931-725 BC) has been discovered by an Egyptian archaeological mission sponsored by the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA). The necropolis lies in the southeastern part of the pyramid field of Illahun in Egypt’s Faiyum region.
Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni announced the discovery, adding that the tombs vary in their designs. Some have a single burial shaft, while others have a shaft leading to an upper chamber, from which an additional shaft leads to a second, lower chamber. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the SCA, said that excavations inside these tombs had revealed wooden coffins containing linen-wrapped mummies covered in cartonnage. The decoration and inscriptions on the mummy trappings are well-preserved. Dr. Hawass added that the charred remains of a number of coffins were also recovered. They were probably burned during the Coptic Period. Among these coffins, the team found 15 painted masks, along with amulets and clay pots.
Dr. Abdel-Rahman El-Ayedi, Supervisor of Antiquities for Middle Egypt, and the head of the mission said that a Middle Kingdom funerary chapel with an offering table was also found. Preliminary study revealed that the chapel was reused in subsequent periods, perhaps as late as the Roman era (30 BC-337 AD). Clay coffins and bronze and copper jewelry dating to the Roman era, as well as a collection of well-preserved faience amulets, were also recovered.