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Friday, June 3, 2022

Half-mummy confuses Egyptian archaeologists - Al-Monitor: The Pulse of the Middle East

https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2022/05/half-mummy-confuses-egyptian-archaeologists

Half-mummy confuses Egyptian archaeologists

The mummy, uncovered in the necropolis in the Al-Asasif area in Luxor, has mystified archaeologists.
Egypt mummy

The half-mummy discovered in the tomb of Karabaskin in the Al-Asasif area in Luxor (southern Egypt) in 2014, is still a mystery that archaeologists are seeking to solve.

According to a report published by Al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper, May 23, the US mission operating in the Al-Asasif area discovered inside the cemetery a mummy consisting of only the upper half of the body of a young man truncated at the waist.

The newspaper quoted the mission as saying that all the cemetery's contents were damaged due to frequent floods. Three coffins were found, including the truncated half-man mummy. The expetidion plans to announce results of its study in January 2024.

The US-Egyptian mission had begun its work in ​​Al-Asasif  in 2006. It succeeded in clearing, restoring, and reconstructing the tombs of Karabasken (TT 391), Karakhamun (TT 223) and Irtieru (TT 390), on the West Bank of Luxor.

It also uncovered thousands of fragments of the collapsed decoration of the tombs, and reconstructed the second pillared hall and part of the first pillared hall in the Karakhamun necropolis.

Bassam al-Shammaa, a researcher in Egyptology, told Al-Monitor "The tombs and cemeteries of the Al-Asasif area are known for their beautiful surprises and their magnificent inscriptions that can compete with the Valley of the Kings and Queens."

According to the website of the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, the archaeological Al-Asasif necropolis is located on the west bank of the Nile River on the road leading to Deir el-Bahari in Luxor, southern Egypt. The tombs are from the 18th, 25th and 26th dynasties, covering the period from 1550 to 525 BC.

The half-mummy might have been violated and looted by thieves, Shammaa explained. The second possibility is "that the man was eaten by a hippopotamus, crocodile or lion during a hunting trip.  … Numerous accidents of this kind occurred in ancient Egypt, according to Pharaonic literature."

The third scenario, he said, could be that the lower part of the body was lost in battle, but he thinks the wild-animal explanation is most likely. He urged the US team of the mission, headed by researcher Elena Pischikova, to quickly release the results of the study, "especially since it was discovered eight years ago."

Pischikova did not respont to Al-Monitor's request for comment on the mystery.

Hussein Abdel Basir, director of the Antiquities Museum at Bibliotheca Alexandrina, told Al-Monitor, "This mummy is a unique case." He agreed with Shammaa, saying, "I think the mummified man was a military man and he lost the lower part of his body in a fight or it was eaten by a lion or a hippopotamus. He was being honored by being buried in this tomb."

But a specific scientific explanation requires lengthy studies, he said, and "the archaeological team is looking at the family tree of this mummy, with DNA analysis or CT scans."

In September 2019, Pischikova  and the Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Anany, inaugurated an archaeological exhibition, "South Asasif Necropolis: Journey Through Time," to showcase the findings of the mission's work,

Abdel Rahim Rihan, director general of the Department of Research, Archaeological Studies and Academic Publication in South Sinai at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, told Al-Monitor, "The archaeological discoveries in Luxor during the past eight years, including the al-Asasif cache of 30 coffins in 2019, brought it back to life."

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