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Researchers discover new ancient tombs at Qubbet el-Hawa in Aswan

Archaeologists from the University of Birmingham have found “compelling evidence” of new pharaonic tombs at Qubbet el-Hawa in Aswan, Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities has revealed.

A two-metre high ancient encroachment wall has been discovered below a visitors’ pathway in the northern part of the West Aswan cemetery at Qubbet el-Hawa.

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It follows and archaeological mission by the University of Birmingham and the Egypt Exploration Society (EES) Qubbet el-Hawa Research Project Group (QHRP), directed by Dr Martin Bommas of the University of Birmingham.

Image Credit - University of Birmingham
Image Credit – University of Birmingham

The newly discovered wall is thought to indicate the architectural support for the known tombs of the first upper terrace, including those of Harkhuf and Heqaib, who were governors of Elephantine Island during the Old Kingdom.

Owing to the landscape of Qubbet el-Hawa, the support wall helped to secure the hillside, and thus lower lying tombs, which were accessible by a causeway leading to a second terrace.

Carl Graves, a PhD student who worked alongside Dr Bommas on the project, said: “The findings are dramatically altering our understanding of the funerary landscape in this area during the Old Kingdom and First Intermediate Period in 2278-2184BC. I don’t think anyone yet knows who the tombs might have belonged to.”

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Nasr Salama, General Director of Aswan and Nubia Antiquities, describes the discovery as “stunning” telling the Egypt Independent that it is now only a matter of time until new tombs are uncovered within the important cemetery.

Eman Khalifa, director of the pottery project within the QHRP, told the paper that the stone wall was dated by the pottery shreds embedded within the mortar used to build it. She said that the crushed pieces include parts of carinated bowls, executed in a style typical of the reign of King Pepi II from the Sixth Dynasty (circa 2278-2184 BCE).

The find was part of the project’s successful first field season, which included the recent discovery of the long sought causeway of Sarenput I, thought to have been the first governor of the area at the beginning of the Middle Kingdom.

University of Birmingham

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Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.
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