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Archaeologists discover hidden ancient ‘City of the Dead’ housing thousands of mummies on burial plot spanning 270,000 ft

Archaeologists discover hidden ancient ‘City of the Dead’ housing thousands of mummies on burial plot spanning 270,000 ft

It's put an end to five years of digging.

Scientists have uncovered a huge burial site in Egypt that they're calling the new 'City of the Dead.'

The discovery was made in the city of Aswan - a place that was once an important trade, quarry and military zone when it was first established more than 4,500 years ago.

It’s believed that the site was in use for about 900 years from the 6th century B.C. to the 9th century A.D., then known as Swenett.

But the lives of its people have long remained a mystery - until now.

What we already know is that the population included ancient Egyptian, Persian, Greek, Roman and subtropical Africa.

After five years of digging near the Mausoleum of Aga Khan III, 300 tombs filled with ancient mummies were found on a burial plot spanning 270,000 feet.

Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities
Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities estimates that each tomb contains about 36 mummies, making it a total of 100,000 mummies that lie within this fairly small gravesite.

'Aswan was a crossing point since forever,' said Patrizia Piacentini, an archaeologist at the University of Milan. 'People were coming from the east to the west. People came here because it was the border, products from the south arrived in Aswan and then dispersed everywhere else.'

The ministry estimated that between 30 and 40% of the remains belong to infants and young children who died from diseases like tuberculosis, anaemia, and organ disease.

In fact, many tombs were decorated with funeral gifts such as pottery and wood carvings.

Lokman Sevim/Pexels
Lokman Sevim/Pexels

'This was a really spectacular find, very unique in Egypt,' Piacentini said. '[Aswan’s citizens] covered the hill with tombs. It is kind of a City of the Dead.'

The City of the Dead was first discovered in 2019 when archaeologists found a family of four who lived over 2,000 years ago.

Further digs revealed dozens more tombs, each body buried according to social class. So, society’s most elite were buried at the top of the hill.

The best-preserved mummies will be sent to various museums for preservation and display, but most of the remains will be returned to their original resting place.

'This is their resting place,' Piacentini explained. 'We uncover their story and then we put them back and close the tomb. For me, [that] was important from the beginning.'

Featured Image Credit: Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities