CAIRO: Remains of what is believed to be a 3,500-year-old necropolis have been unearthed in Gebel al Silisilah, ancient Egypt’s largest sandstone quarry located on the east bank of the Nile River north of Aswan, Antiquities Ministry announced in a statement Thursday.
“The newly discovered rock-cut tombs and chapels contain bones of men, women and children of different ages. This indicates the site was inhabited during the Pharaonic Period (3200 B.C.-332.B.C.) and may have been a lot more than just a stone quarry that supplied a huge amount of blocks for Egypt’s temples,” Mahmoud Afifi, the head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department said in the statement.
The tombs were discovered during excavation work carried out by the Gebel el-Silsila Survey Project team from Sweden’s Lund University, headed by Dr. Maria Nilsson and Dr. John Ward.
The tombs were not serving as burial sites for pharaohs, but they were lavish enough that archaeologists think the Egyptians buried there were high-ranking, said Nelson.
“The higher officials, viziers and such that were active at Silsila were buried in Thebes, so it is likely that the people entombed in the rock-cut graves belong to a level just below the officials,” Nilsson told Discovery News.
Gebel el-Silsila is a rocky gorge between Kom Ombo and Edfu villages where the Nile narrows and high sandstone cliffs come down to the edge of the river. Several shrines were cut in the area by the New Kingdom Pharaohs Thutmose I, Hatshepsut, Thutmose III and Horemheb, archaeologist Sherif el-Sabban told The Cairo Post.
In May 2015, Remains of a lost 3,300-year-old temple, most likely founded by the 18th Dynasty Pharaoh Thutmose II, were unearthed at the site by Nilsson and her team.
In January 2015, the mission also unearthed a rock inscription portraying a rare transfer of two obelisks from the quarry.
“The Gebel el-Silsila Survey Project basically aims to document the site’s epigraphic material in order to develop a database, catalogue and a topographic map for the site to have a better understanding of the area, its ancient visitors and what function and meaning the quarry marks had. The project also focuses on quarry marks and textual inscriptions carved upon the sandstone quarry faces,” Nilsson told The Cairo Post last year