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Egypt: Golden Mummies - Future Excavations in the Valley of the Mummies


The Discovery of the Valley of the Mummies

by Dr. Zahi Hawass, Director of the Giza Pyramids and Saqqara,
Undersecretary of the State for the Giza Monuments

Future Excavations in the Valley of the Mummies

The excavation continues. We anticipate that there are many more mummies buried in the vast cemeteries of Bahariya. As we discovered yet another undisturbed burial chamber, my mind was reeling. Who does the tomb belong to? How many more rooms lie waiting for us beyond these two? Will they provide us with a good look into history? Is it possible that their mummies and funerary objects are still undisturbed?

It is at these moments when it is crucially important to stay calm that I find it most difficult to do so! I stayed there for an hour wondering what I should do, because it appeared that the chamber's entrance was above, where some modern dwellings were situated.

I took Ashry Shaker with me to figure out how we could enter the new tomb, and we concluded that the only way to enter the second chamber was to demolish ten of the twenty houses aboveground. We arranged a meeting with the owners of the houses. The residents there are very poor and very kind. In the course of our discussions, we realized that they actually had no legal right to the land, or any legal document to prove that they owned the houses. Therefore, by law, the government could not give them any compensation. I asked Ashry to record the names of all the residents and the sizes of each house. Then I wrote a report to the Antiquities Department, explaining the situation and asking them to assign a decree to demolish the homes under the protection of the police. I met with the mayor of Bayariyya the next day to see how we would recompense these people. We decided to give them each a piece of land, although we could not pay them any money. When I explained our decision to the home owners, I thought they would refuse, but they were actually very happy. I was surprised at this and asked Ashry the reason. He smiled and said that most of them had other houses in town.

I firmly believe that these tombs will prove very important to the history of Bahariya. My team of archaeologists is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to move ahead with the excavations there. Like a child sitting before a pile of wrapped gifts, I can hardly wait until we enter this untouched tomb of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty and continue our excavations in the Valley of the Golden Mummies.

What else lies beyond these walls? What kinds of mummies will lie in the tombs that we have yet to discover? We will have to wait until the next digging season to find out, but I expect nothing less than spectacular. It is even possible that we may find mummies of the upper class and of Roman officials that are even more lavishly decorated than the golden mummies. This is why I love my job: There is always so much more to uncover and each day is full of surprises. Now I feel that there was a reason, after all, that I moved from the site at the Giza Pyramids to Bahariya Oasis. I can only call it destiny.

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