A few days ago, we talked about how contrary to popular opinion, the Great Pyramid doesn’t house any single mummy specimen. Well, on the other end of the spectrum, archaeologists from the Brigham Young University, Utah, have discovered an ancient cemetery in Egypt that probably boasts of over a million mummies! The site is known as Fag el-Gamous (translates to ‘Way of the Water Buffalo’), while the human remains were found to be from the Roman Empire (and later Eastern Roman Empire) era, ranging from 1st century AD to 7th century AD.
Oddly enough, in spite of the gargantuan scope of the excavation, the people buried here were not from royal or noble families. To that end, most of the specimens examined from the site were not artificially mummified – aided by delicate process of removing the internal organs. Instead the remains were naturally mummified by the arid climatic conditions of the area, and as such most of the bodies were found without any traditional grave goods.
However, there were some special specimens that did exhibit some form of burial art and intentionally applied preservation techniques. A mummified child stands out in this respect, with the body showcasing preserved parts of brain, tongue, toe and toe-nails. The infant was most probably just 18 months old at the time of its death, and was found to accompanied by a host of objects like linen, glass, jewelry and even vibrantly designed booties (pictured below). This is what the researchers had to say about the discovery –
She was buried with great care, as someone who obviously loved her very much did all they could to take care of this little girl in burial. It’s very sad, but they succeeded. It was a beautiful burial.
Among other interesting finds from the over thousand bodies that the historians have excavated (in 30 years time), included an extraordinary 7-ft tall mummy. This male specimen couldn’t fit into the burial shaft, and so the undertakers had to bent the body to make room for a proper burial. And, beyond just the figure, an impressive height of 7-ft is pretty surprising, given the lack of nutrition traditionally associated with the worker class of the ancient era.
Another fascinating find showcases the odd grouping of the red-headed and the blonde-haired bodies in separate sections of the expansive cemetery. The experts have put forth their hypothesis that it might have pertained to exclusive family areas or even genetic segregation. In any case, the archaeologists are still baffled by the sheer scale of the burial site – with the primary mystery relating to the actual origins of the mummies. The ancient settlement of Philadelphia is in a proximate location to the site, but the town has its own necropolis. Furthermore, there is also a relatively small pyramid close-by – but again this antediluvian structure is around 2,500 years older than the mass-grave in question.
UPDATE: According to Egyptian officials, the claim of a million mummies is simply NOT RIGHT. As a result, the government has supposedly revoked the permit of the archaeologists working on the site. According to Dr. Youssef Khalifa, head of the ancient Egypt department at the country’s antiquities ministry, –
There are no million mummies; a mummy definition to begin with, means a complete mummified body, and there is only one mummy found at the site of Fag el-Gamous, in 1980…that’s why the committee of the ancient Egypt department took the decision to stop their permission to work at the site after 28 years.