Week 7: Valley of the Golden Mummies, Alexandria and Philae Island

I found the “Valley of the Golden Mummies” particularly interesting this week. This cemetery was discovered in Bahariya Oasis and contains over 105 mummies from the time of Alexander the Great to the 4th and 5th centuries AD (308). This cemetery was found on accident, and fortunately there are a lot of things that have been discovered by accident throughout our history and I always end up wondering if it weren’t for that chance occurrence or accident would we still have discovered any of these things at some point? I find it interesting because the mummies were dated from at least three different centuries. There were four different kinds of mummies discovered here, mostly likely based on the individual’s social class. Some of the mummies had gold-covered masks on their casings and others had gold foil on their chests. The next kind found had linen wrapped around their upper body and had facial features and depictions of deities painted on them and others were wrapped in linen that was arranged in geometric patterns, the lowest class burials were poorly wrapped in linen (308-309). I also find these mummies interesting because of the applied implications for genealogical and/or genetic study as well as studies into possible disease prevalence and cause of death based off of the analysis of the paleopathology of the mummies (309).

I also found the city of Alexandria and Philae Island interesting as well. I always liked Alexandria because of the library that was and still is there, but its university, houses, theaters, cemeteries, Roman baths, and a lighthouse complex have also been excavated from Greco-Roman times. It was founded by Alexander and was originally a Greco-Roman city and was later an Islamic city. The cemetery of the Gabbari district had 250 burial niches that were discovered and each niche had sometimes at least 12 skeletons in each (302). Why did this happen? Did they run out of or need more room as time went on or could there have been some type of mass burial that took place and they could not build more tombs? It suffered and with stood damage from invading Muslim armies and riots between pagans and Christians. I wonder how Christianity’s intolerance towards pagans arose? Did it start because pagans originally persecuted not only Christians, but also Jews or was it just part of their fundamental beliefs, since, I believe, Christianity has always been a monotheistic religion? I think Philae Island interesting just because it was built on an island in the first place and that UNSECO disassembled and reassembled it on higher ground on another island (307), which is impressive and many different rulers had buildings constructed that contributed to the temple complex and its temple of Isis even co-existed with the churches that were built and was allowed to stay in use.

One thought on “Week 7: Valley of the Golden Mummies, Alexandria and Philae Island

  1. I always find it interesting how some of the greatest finds are discovered by chance. Sometimes when excavating or searching for something, it’s never as simply placed as you would think. No matter how much studying/excavating one does! It’s crazy how well the Egyptians were able to reserve the bodies of the deceased. In cases today, it is difficult to investigate what happened to the bodies of victims that have fallen to death just months before. While, in some Egyptian mummies, from thousands of years ago, one can still figure out certain death causes or illnesses that they experienced.

    It was nice to read that even though Alexander conquered the Egyptians, he still made sure to translate many Egyptian works into Greek and other languages. He saw that they were such an advanced civilization and capable of things such as constructing pyramids that no one else could. By adopting some of the religious traditions and Gods of the Egyptians, he was able to more effectively reign over Egypt. It’s definitely a very different approach as to what other rulers have done when conquering a nation. Many times, rulers in history have disregarded any previous cultural aspects of the conquered people and make them assimilate to the new dominating culture.

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