After five months of digging, a team of archeologists working in the desert of Luxor, Egypt, have finally found what they were looking for.
A man by the name of Amenemhat, who lived in Egypt 3,500 years ago, and worked as the royal goldsmith for the royal family.
Amenemhat worked as a jeweler in the 18th dynasty, dedicating his work to Amon-Re, a powerful sun deity at the time. His tomb was found in Draa Abul-Naga, near the Valley of the Kings, which was a necropolis for noblemen and rulers.
The main chamber of the tomb contained statues of Amenemhat, Amenemhat’s wife and one of his sons. Along with the family’s depictions, archeologists also found pottery, funeral masks, and ushabti figurines, small blue, black or white statues placed with the bodies upon burial to serve them in the afterlife.
It also contained a burial shaft with sarcophagi and three mummies inside, their heads and hands uncovered. Though they were found in Amenemhat’s tomb, it’s unclear whether they belong to him and his family.
“We are not sure if these mummies belong to Amenemhat and his family,” said Mostafa Waziri, the archaeologist who led the dig. “Others have clearly reused this tomb and poked around in ancient times. That’s probably why their heads are uncovered.”
“But we are extremely happy anyway,” he added. “This means that we will find more tombs in this area.”
And that they did. Waziri said the team found a separate burial shaft, just outside of Amenemhat’s tomb, which contained three more mummies from a later period.
The discovery may seem small to a civilian, but for the archeological team, it’s a huge one. The find was announced with a press conference outside the tomb on Saturday.
“This find is important for marketing,” Egypt’s antiquities minister said. “This is exactly what Egypt needs.”
For the past six years, Egypt’s tourism industry has been failing. The political uprising of 2011 caused civilian tensions and an upswing in terrorist attacks, effectively shutting down the country’s tourism. Egyptian officials are hoping discoveries like this will bring curious travelers into their country.
However, this year seems to be giving them the leg up they need. The discovery of Amenemhat’s tomb is just the latest in a series of discoveries in Egypt this year.
In March, archeologists discovered a Pharaonic colossus, a giant statue depicting a sitting Pharaoh. In April, a team discovered the tomb of an 18th dynasty judge outside of Luxor, and in May, they unearthed a group of 17 mummies in Minya.
The tomb of the judge is one of the largest found this year. Inside, they found more than 1,000 funerary figurines, as well as three sarcophagi and mummies.
As far as boosting tourism, it looks like the discoveries have been helping. In the first seven months of the year, tourism increased 170 percent, totaling more than $3 billion.