The joint Egyptian-Italian archaeological mission working in the vicinity of the Aga Khan’s Mausoleum, west of Aswan, uncovered several previously unknown family tombs dating back to the Late Period (664 BC -332 BCE) and the Greco-Roman Period (332 BCE – 395 CE).

This was stated by Dr. Muhammad Ismail Khaled, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, stressing that this discovery adds new elements to the history of the Aga Khan region. This is especially true since some of the newly found tombs still contain the remains of funerary furniture as well as mummies which hold evidence of the population’s health condition and diseases. The find also foretells the discovery of more graves in the region.

Dr. Ayman Ashmawy, Head of the Egyptian Archaeological Sector at the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said that the number of tombs reaches 33, all dating to the Late and Greco-Roman Periods. He added that studies conducted on the human remains indicate that approximately 30% to 40% of those buried at the site died in youth or from newborn to adulthood.

Regarding the architectural layout of the tombs, Dr. Ashmawy explained that some of them have a vaulted entrance preceded by an open courtyard surrounded by mud-brick walls. Others are carved directly into the mountain rock.

Dr. Abdel Moneim Saeed, General Supervisor of the Antiquities of Aswan and Nubia and Director of the Archaeological Mission from the Egyptian side, spoke of an exceptional group of mummies inside one of the tombs. The group includes the mummy of an adult, perhaps a woman, and a child who may have died at the age of one or two years. The two bodies are still attached to each other. They were found inside a stone coffin, which the mission will study in the coming period to determine the relationship between them. The study will also include the remains of colored cardboard and figures formed from burnt clay, stones, wooden coffins, and offering tables.

He pointed out that, through this evidence, it is likely that this part of the cemetery hosted the burials of middle-class residents of Aswan, while the upper part of the cemetery was allocated for the burial of the upper class. He pointed out that studies and x-ray analyses were conducted on the mummies, using the latest technology to form a complete picture of them in terms of facial features, gender, and age at death, and define whether death was the result of an organic disease or not.

According to Dr. Patrizia Piacenti, professor of Egyptian archeology at the University of Milan and director of the mission from the Italian side, preliminary studies on the mummies showed that some of them died in their youth, some others died as newborns until adulthood, and that some were suffering from health problems ranging from contagious diseases to bone disorders. The pelvis of several adult women presented bone trauma, while the mummies showed signs of anemia, malnutrition, chest diseases, tuberculosis, and signs of osteoporosis. Dr. Piacenti also explained that some of the deaths occurred at a late age and some of them suffered from severe bone diseases. She confirmed that the mission will continue its work at the site, in an attempt to uncover more about this important archaeological site.