With all the unrest occurring in North Africa, Arabia and Middle East one wonders how archaeologists are able to ply their trade; but a couple of days ago it was announced by associate professor, Kerry Muhlestein, at Brigham Young University and his team had found an ancient Egyptian cemetery dig site at Fag el-Gamous site for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities Scholars Colloquium in Toronto contained an estimated one million burials, some that were not mummified.
Kerry has a BS in Psychology with a Hebrew minor as well as an MA in Ancient Near Eastern Studies and a Ph.D. From UCLA in Egyptology.
Dr. Muhlestein as director of the BYU Egypt Excavation Project works in understanding pyramid excavation as well as Graeco-Roman culture and the advent of Christianity in Egypt is known in global academic circles. Kerry has passed several language exams such as Egyptian, Hebrew, Aramaic, Ugaritic, Phoenician, Moabite, Coptic, German, and French and has taken courses in Greek and Akkadian languages.
|Mummy of Child, photo by Kerry Muhlestein|
Daily Mail, UK, reported that the Fag el-Gamous cemetery covers over 300 acres in Faiyum, Egypt and mummified bodies were found in shafts up to 75 feet deep, the remains dating back when Egypt was under Roman and Byzantine rule. The mummified body of a seven-foot tall man was found among in the cemetery that contains an estimated one million mummies. The reason why so many burials are at this one site remains a mystery.
Scientists have already excavated more than 1,700 mummies, preserved by the hot dry desert in the Faiyum region of Egypt about 60 miles (96km) south of Cairo. But those leading the work believe their could be up to a million similar bodies buried in shafts cut into the limestone rock that are at times up to 75ft (22.9 metres) deep.
The youngest body found thus far is an 18-month old girl with bracelets on both arms.
|Bracelets on 18-month girl, BYU excavation photo|
Fag el-Gamous name is translated as “Way of the Water Buffalo”, located 96 kilometers (60 miles) south of Cairo. It appears to be a cemetery of ordinary people buried about 1,500 years ago. There were few goods buried with them, as was the custom of the wealthy, laid in the ground without coffins. Strangely, the mummies were buried in groups by hair color – those with blond hair in one area and those with red hair in another; all being naturally mummified by the desert climate conditions in deep shafts cut into the limestone rock. Another phenomenon is that most of the mummies teeth were in excellent condition.
The cemetery was first discovered thirty years ago, but the excavation has been sped up by the BYU dig operation because local farmers have expanded their cultivation area. The team created a database with information about burials, burial goods, and textiles used for clothing and mummy wrappings.
The following video was produced by CNN: