Ancient Egypt in the News

Ancient Egypt is rarely out of the news, or the box office. Even as the reboot of The Mummy movie franchise was unleashed on our collective imagination a year ago, real-world archaeologists and Egyptologists were busy unearthing fascinating artifacts in the “land of the pharaohs.” Most recently, the tomb of a “Keeper of the Secret” was discovered; an ancient quarry ramp, possibly related to pyramid-building, was found; and a 7,000-year-old village in the Nile Delta was excavated. And that’s not even to mention the cat mummies! The number of tourists to Egypt has declined since the unrest that led to a popular uprising in 2011. Egypt’s Antiquities Ministry has been hyping historical discoveries in hopes that such news will revive tourism.

A tomb complex found in Abusir, near Cairo, is located close to a pyramid that belonged to the pharaoh Neferirkare, who reigned in 2446–2438 B.C, during the Old Kingdom. Inscriptions on a statue within the tomb refer to a priest named Kaires, who was apparently a close minister to the pharaoh. A sarcophagus likely belonging to Kaires was discovered, but no mummy—yet.

The uncovering of a ramp structure near an ancient quarry at Hatnub, in Egypt’s Eastern Desert, piques interest in the perennial question of how the ancient Egyptians actually built the pyramids. The ramp, flanked by staircases and post holes, provides clues about Egyptians’ technological knowledge; however, it doesn’t get Egyptologists any closer to an answer. The ramp is dated to at least 4,500 years ago, around the time of Pharaoh Khufu, builder of the Great Pyramid at Giza. Because it was part of an alabaster stone quarry, it is not directly linked to the building of pyramids, as red granite was the primary stone used in their construction.

The remains from an ancient village in the Nile Delta are identified as being from the Neolithic era, long before the pharaohs and their pyramids. Discovered about 90 miles north of the Egyptian capital in Tell el-Samara, the find consists of silos of food and animal bones together, a clear sign of human habitation—dated to around 5000 B.C.

Image credit: © Mark Brodkin Photography/Moment/Getty Images

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