A collection of 14 Graeco-Roman tombs dating to the third century BC have been found in a cemetery in the Ain El-Zawya area of the town of Bawiti, in Bahariya Oasis.
The Minister of Culture, Farouk Hosni, announced the discovery, adding that it was carried out by an Egyptian archaeological mission.
Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), said that the newly discovered tombs are rock hewn tombs and that early investigations uncovered four anthropoid masks made of plaster, a gold fragment decorated with a scene of the four sons of the god Horus, and a collection of coins, as well as clay and glass vessels of different shapes and sizes.
Dr. Sabri Abdel Aziz, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department, said that these tombs were found as a result of excavation work in an area allocated for the construction of a youth centre for Al-Hara village at Bahariya Oasis, which is 25 km from Bawiti. He added that the excavation has also unearthed the mummy of a woman, 97 cm tall, covered with coloured plaster featuring the lady in a Roman costume and wearing some of her jewellery.
Dr. Mahmoud Affifi, director of Cairo and Giza antiquities, said that this discovery is early evidence of the existence of a large necropolis from the Graeco-Roman era. He asserted that the SCA has halted the construction work and taken all required legal procedures to add the area to the SCA’s control.
Affifi explained that the tombs have a unique interior design consisting of a long stairway leading to a corridor which ends in a hall containing mastabas at its corners that were used in burning the deceased.
Bahariya Oasis is also the site where, in 1996, Hawass and his Egyptian team discovered the Valley of the Golden Mummies where a collection of 17 tombs with 254 mummies have been unearthed.