Ancient Egyptian cemetery holds ‘Book of the Dead’ and rare 3,500-year-old relics

Archaeologists have made a fascinating discovery in Egypt: a cemetery full of mysteries and dating back 3,500 years, located in Tuna al-Gebel, in central Egypt.

The surprise came when researchers found a papyrus from “Book of the Dead” in this historic location.

The cemetery, which dates back to the New Kingdom period, around 1550 to 1070 BC, has revealed a wealth of archaeological artefacts.

Researchers discovered mummies, sarcophagi, amulets and numerous “shabti” (or ushabti) ​​figurines, which were intended to serve the deceased on their journey to the afterlife.

The aforementioned cemetery provides a unique insight into this period in Egyptian history.

Image: Courtesy of the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities/Reproduction

The mystery of the ‘Book of the Dead’

One of the most notable discoveries at the cemetery was a papyrus from the “Book of the Dead,” a collection of texts used by the ancient Egyptians to aid the dead on their journey through the underworld.

These texts were often buried with the deceased, and the version found in the cemetery is an impressive 13 to 15 meters long.

The “Book of the Dead”, as it is commonly called today, has its origins in Ancient Egypt. The ancient Egyptians knew it as the “Book to Go Out During the Day.”

These texts served several functions, including guiding the dead through underworld and ensure safe passage to the afterlife.

The discovery of the “Book of the Dead” in this context is of great importance, as it is rare to find a copy of this book in the tomb in which it was originally buried.

Image: Courtesy of the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities/Reproduction

You Egyptologists emphasize that more information is needed to understand the full meaning of this discovery, as no photographs of the papyrus were released and the team responsible did not comment on the matter.

The scientific community eagerly awaits an official publication for full details.

Experts who were not directly involved in the excavation praised the discovery. Foy Scalf, an Egyptologist and head of the research archives at University of Chicagocommented on the rarity of finding a copy of the “Book of the Dead” in its original burial place.

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Lara Weiss, CEO of the Roemer and Pelizaeus Museum in Germany, who has extensively studied the “Book of the Dead”, highlighted that if the copy is long and well preserved, it is a remarkable and interesting discovery.

Other archaeological relics

In addition to the “Book of the Dead” papyrus, archaeologists unearthed several coffins and mummies in the cemetery. One of the coffins belongs to the daughter of Djehuty, a high priest of the god Amun who lived more than 3,500 years ago.

Image: Courtesy of the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities/Reproduction

Another coffin appears to have belonged to a woman who was a singer in the temple of Amun, a deity associated with the sun and the ancient city of Thebes (now Luxor).

Image: Courtesy of the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities/Reproduction

The cemetery also contained many canopic jars, which would store the organs of the deceased. Furthermore, remains of stone sarcophagi containing the wooden coffins of the deceased were found.

Image: Courtesy of the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities/Reproduction

Excavations at the cemetery and analysis of the finds are ongoing, providing researchers with a unique opportunity to explore the Egyptian past and uncover secrets buried millennia ago.

The “Book of the Dead” is just one of many precious relics the cemetery has uncovered, and experts eagerly await more discoveries that could enrich our understanding of this ancient civilization.