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Thirty mummies were unearthed inside an ancient fire-scorched sacrifice edifice.

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Archaeologists discovered the entrance to a 2,000-year-old family tomb hidden under a fire-scorched structure near the Nile River in Aswan, Egypt. They discovered 30 mummies of various ages within, including some arthritis-ridden older individuals, toddlers, and a newborn.


Though the tomb has yet to be dated, archaeologists believe it was used by a single family for generations spanning the Ptolemaic and Roman periods (the first century B.C. to the second or third century A.D.), according to Patrizia Piacentini, a professor of Egyptology and Egyptian Archaeology at the University of Milan and co-director of the excavation.


This new tomb is one of more than 300 lately unearthed around the Aga Khan Mausoleum, a pink granite edifice built in the twentieth century on top of a tiny slope beside the Nile River. However, unlike the majority of the other tombs, which were discovered underground or cut into rocky hills, this tomb was discovered inside a bigger above-ground structure, which the experts believe was used as a place of sacrifice.


"It appears that, because of its location along a valley of access to the necropolis, this building was used as a sacred enclosure where sacrifices were offered to the god Khnum in the form of Aries, creator god and protector of the fertile floods of the Nile, particularly revered in Aswan," Piacentini explained to Live Science. "Who could have better propitiated the eternal life of those who rested in this necropolis than him?"


Piacentini and her colleagues detected evidence of fire on the structure walls, possibly from offering ceremonies, but some of the fire scars could also have been caused by tomb robbers, she suggested. In any case, they uncovered animal bones, plant fragments, and offered tables inside the charred edifice.


A mummy of a man was also discovered within, together with a copper necklace etched with his name "Nikostratos."


They discovered a shattered offering vase that still contained little fruits at the bottom of a staircase leading to the tomb entrance, which had been dug out of the rock. The tomb, which consisted of four deeply excavated chambers, had the remains of approximately 30 mummies.


Some of the mummies were extremely well preserved, such as the remains of a toddler snuggled inside a clay coffin, while others had their bandages and cartonnage, a material used by the ancient Egyptians to wrap mummies, cut by ancient robbers. The researchers also unearthed a knife with an iron blade and a wooden handle that the plunderers may have used. According to the researchers, Nikostratos was likely once inside the tomb with the other 30 mummies but was taken out by the robbers.


The excavation was a collaboration between Egypt's Aswan and Nibian Antiquities Zone and the University of Milan in Italy; the experts are still analysing and dating the discoveries.


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