Bahariya – Valley of the Golden Mummies

Few tombs, and none of such size and quality, have been found by archaeologists before the looters.

Even the tomb of Tutankhamen, opened in the 1920s, showed signs of having been visited by grave-robbers. The tombs in the Valley of the Golden Mummies were discovered when a donkey, ridden by an antiquities guard along the dusty road to the small town of Farafra, tripped after its leg slipped into a hole leading to the entrance.

That stumble revealed an entire forgotten population not just of faceless mummies, but of people with wives, husbands, children, lives, beliefs and personalities, which they took with them in death.

The discoverer peered down into the hole, and a gallery of ancient eyes in different faces stared back, unblinking, into the light.

Today Bahriya is a tranquil oasis of date groves and hot springs off the tourist track. Its population has shrunk since Roman times and there are few foreign visitors.

But archaeologists hope the wealth of mummies and temple ruins in the area will put it firmly on the tourist map.

Only those mummies in the Bahareya Museum, which Hawass has pledged to improve, will be on view.

The archeologist predicts that complete excavation will take at least a decade.

They expect to find up to 10,000 mummies.

The experts hope to return them all to their original condition.

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