Egypt has gone archeology-crazy in the last year, uncovering lost cities and parading dozens of pharaohs in the street to encourage tourism. And now, the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities is publishing a stunning finding from the Koum el-Khulgan archaeological site—110 graves that span 3 eras of ancient Egyptian history.
The graves contain the bodies of adults and children, often buried in a manner appropriate for their era. According to the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, 68 of the bodies date from the Predynastic Period (around 3,000 B.C.), a time before the unification of upper and lower Egypt. Only 5 of the burials date from the Early Dynastic period (directly after 3,000 B.C.), and the other 37 span the Hyksos dynasty (between 1,782 and 1,570 B.C.), a short but significant period between the Middle and New Kingdoms.
The burial site, which is around 100 miles northeast of Cairo, provides significant insight into burial rituals, ancient Egyptian art, and of course, the culture of everyday people. It appears that the 68 Predynastic graves come from the Buto, a Lower Egypt civilization. Their bodies are set in a squatting position, and their heads face west toward the sunset. An infant from the Predynastic period was also found at the site buried in an jar, a gesture that we still don’t understand.
Several artifacts were discovered at the site, including ovens, bowls, furniture, and scarab amulets. Hieroglyphic seals made of clay were also discovered at the site. These seals were often used to stamp official documents, similar to how a business or public department might stamp documents today.
We should expect to see more ancient Egyptian discoveries over the next year. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi began expanding archeological and tourism projects in early 2020, and has doubled down to try and recover Egypt’s damaged tourism business. Before COVID-19, Egypt could expect over 13 million tourists a year, but the country only saw 3.5 million tourists in 2020.