The Swedish mission at Gebel el Silsila, led by Dr. Maria Nilsson from Lund University and John Ward, has discovered 12 new tombs dating from the 18th Dynasty (Thutmosid period), including crypts cut into the rock, rock-cut tombs with one or two chambers, niches possibly used for offering, a tomb containing multiple animal burials, and several juvenal burials, some intact.
The archaeological material produced from the newly discovered tombs and burials chronologically correlate with those excavated within the cemetery previously, so far limited to the reigns of Thutmosis III and Amenhotep II. In addition to the architecture, the excavation has revealed a wealth of material culture, including finely dressed sandstone sarcophagi, painted cartonnage, sculptured and occasionally painted pottery coffins, textile and organic wrapping, ceramic vessels and plates, as well as an array of jewellery, amulets and scarabs.
Preliminary studies of the vast amount of human remains so far recovered from the necropolis indicate generally healthy individuals. At this time, very little evidence of malnutrition and infection has been discovered. Fractures of the long bones and increased muscle attachments amongst the skeletal remains indicate behaviours related to occupational hazards and an extremely labour intensive environment. Furthermore, many of the injuries appear to be in an advanced stage of healing, suggesting effective medical care.
The new finds add exciting new components to the necropolis, changing yet again the perceived function and apparent appearance to the site of Gebel el Silsila, and with further fieldwork the team look forward to increasing their understanding of the overall function and role of the area during the New Kingdom.
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