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Egyptian archaeologists discovered an intricately carved plaster sarcophagus portraying a tiny, wide-eyed woman dressed in a tunic in a newly uncovered complex of tombs at a remote desert oasis.
It is the first Roman-style mummy found in Bahariya Oasis some 186 miles southwest of Cairo, said archaeologist Mahmoud Afifi, who led the dig.
The find was part of a cemetery dating back to the Greco-Roman period containing 14 tombs.
'It is a unique find,' he said, confirming that initial examinations indicate a mummy is inside the coffin.
The carved plaster sarcophagus is only 3 feet long and shows a woman wearing a long tunic, a headscarf, bracelet and shoes, as well as a beaded necklace.
Coloured stones in the sarcophagus' eyes gave the appearance she is awake.
Afifi said they had not dated the new find yet, but the burial style indicated she belonged to Egypt's long period of Roman rule lasting a few hundred years and starting 31BC.
He said his team first thought they had stumbled across a child's tomb because of its diminutive stature, but the decorations and features indicated it was a woman.
Afifi said it was still unclear who the woman was but said it was most likely she was a wealthy and influential member of her society, judging by the effort taken on the sarcophagus.
Mummies of people of diminutive stature have been unearthed in other parts of Egypt, where they appeared to have importance in local religions at the time, he added.
The archaeologists also found a gold relief showing the four sons of the Egyptian god Horus, other plaster masks of women's faces, several glass and clay utensils and some metal coins.
He whose name should never be spoken on ATS
Also in Sheikh Sobey, I discovered near the tomb of Djedkhonsu the tomb of his father Badi-Isis and that of his wife Natsa, as well as his brother, whose name was not found. The knowledge of the location of these tombs came to me through two young people of Bahariya. They came to me while I was excavating in the Valley of the Golden Mummies and told me they knew about tombs hidden under the ground. At first I did not believe them, because there are many people who gossip and tell tales about antiquities. But finally I went with them, and they took me to a shaft next to the house of an old lady, and we went down into the shaft about 35 feet underground. I found myself in a maze corridor of beautifully decorated tombs. I began to excavate in this area, and found many wonderful things, but the tomb of the governor was the most exciting.
The mummies buried at Bahariya Oasis fall into four distinct categories. The first type represent the wealthiest inhabitants of the area, probably local merchants and their families. These individuals could afford to have their mummies adorned with brightly gilded masks, and sometimes with gilded chest-plates embossed with images of the gods. The second type of mummy is wrapped in linen bandages, the face and upper body covered in painted cartonnage. Many of these mummies were given very lifelike eyes inlaid with marble and obsidian, which were so realistic that they unnerved some of our excavators. The third type of mummy that we encountered in the course of our work is not covered with any type of decorative mask, but is carefully wrapped with strips of linen arranged in elaborate geometric patterns. These mummies probably belonged to the middle class. Finally, we also came across poorly preserved bodies hat had been wrapped quite carelessly. These probably belonged to the poorer inhabitants of the oasis. Unfortunately, because the mummies and the tombs in which they were buried contain no inscriptions, it is impossible for us to know who they once were. It is only through careful study of the remains and the artifacts found with them that we can reconstruct something of the life of Bahariya Oasis in ancient times.
Just to ask - I can see there is a bit of an ego at play here, but how much do you think professional jealousy is behind some of the complaints about him? He must have just about the best job in the world of archaeology.
Originally posted by BeastMaster2012
Cool find. So it was a very short woman from the period of time when Roman's ruled Egypt, which did not last that long.
In 30 BC, following the death of Cleopatra, Egypt became part of the Roman Empire as the province Aegyptus, governed by a prefect selected by the Emperor from the Equestrian and not a governor from the Senatorial order, to prevent interference by the Roman Senate. The main Roman interest in Egypt was always the reliable delivery of grain to the city of Rome. To this end the Roman administration made no change to the Ptolemaic system of government, although Romans replaced Greeks in the highest offices. But Greeks continued to staff most of the administrative offices and Greek remained the language of government except at the highest levels. Unlike the Greeks, the Romans did not settle in Egypt in large numbers. Culture, education and civic life largely remained Greek throughout the Roman period. The Romans, like the Ptolemies, respected and protected Egyptian religion and customs, although the cult of the Roman state and of the Emperor was gradually introduced.
Roman rule in Egypt
The first prefect of Egypt, Gaius Cornelius Gallus, brought Upper Egypt under Roman control by force of arms, established a protectorate over the southern frontier district, which had been abandoned by the later Ptolemies. The second prefect, Aelius Gallus, made an unsuccessful expedition to conquer Arabia: the Red Sea coast of Egypt was not brought under Roman control until the reign of Claudius. The third prefect, Gaius Petronius, cleared the neglected canals for irrigation, stimulating a revival of agriculture.