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Spain’s Egypt mission unearths ancient tombs and treasures

By Noemí Jabois

Cairo, May 25 (efe-epa).- After unearthing 3,000-year-old tombs, archaeologists from the University of Barcelona’s Egypt mission in Oxyrhynchus have tapped into an enthralling world of ancient gems.

Oxyrhynchus, located nearly 200 km southern Cairo, has been repeatedly looted by treasure hunters since it was discovered over two centuries ago.

It became famous when English Egyptologists Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt discovered 100,000 papyrus scrolls in the early 20th century.

Fascinating discoveries have been made in the city since, such as a tomb belonging to the Saite Dynasty (664 B.C. to 525 B.C.) with 11 chambers and a funerary trousseau of more than 800 pieces.

Esther Pons co-head of the 13 to 15-member mission financed by the Spanish ministry of culture highlights the most recent discovery, announced by the Egyptian authorities a week ago:

“This year, we have found eight tombs, all built with white limestone blocks. Six of these tombs are from the Saite-Persian period, that is, from 664 BC until 330 BC, which is the time when Alexander the Great enters Egypt and a major change occurs at all levels.”

Six one-chamber tombs differ from those discovered until now at the site, with flat or sloping instead of vaulted ceilings, and a different type of burial, without a sarcophagus.

It is a unique discovery in Oxyrhynchus that reflects a change at the end of the Late Period of ancient Egypt.

The other two tombs recently discovered belong to the following era, the Ptolemaic dynasty or the Greco-Roman period.

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