When researchers dug into a centuries-old waste pile, seven tombs emerged from the tan sands of Egypt, undisturbed for centuries – perhaps thousands of years. Archaeologists lifted the roof of a burial chamber and came face to face with a very different mother.
Archaeologists began the excavation Qutub Al-Hawa Burial Ground along the Nile River in Aswan, according to a study published in the journal PLOS One on Wednesday, January 18. The cemetery had rock tombs where many famous people were buried.
The researchers noticed a thick pile of debris from the Byzantine Empire, which ruled from 330 to 1453 AD.
While looking inside a small tomb, archaeologists found a cache of 10 crocodile mummies.
The study found that the section contained five “more or less complete bodies” and five crocodile heads. The discovery was “unlike any crocodile material ever described.”
The largest alligator is estimated to be 11.5 feet long, while the smallest is 6 feet long, according to the study. Based on the type of protection and the lack of resin and pitch, archaeologists found the mummies to be at least 2,300 years old. The alligators were buried in Ptolemaic periodAccording to researchers, it started around 330 BC.
The most complete mummy crocodile – crocodile #5 – was about 7 feet long and wrapped in palm leaves. Researchers found stones called gastroliths in the crocodile’s stomach, eggshells from small lizards or snakes the reptile may have eaten and insects that could have infested the carcass.
The second most complete mummy, crocodile #4, had its well-preserved nose still intact, photos show. The alligator’s eye sockets still had soft tissue inside.
The five skulls differ in completeness and quality of preservation, researchers said. The well-preserved skull still had skin on the nose and nostrils. Another skull showed signs of cutting and sealing, possibly from the mummification process.
Researchers could not find out how the crocodiles died, the study. Most of the mummies did not show signs of cuts, which may indicate that the reptiles died by drowning or suffocation.
Based on the difference in mummy quality, the archaeologists concluded that the crocodiles could have been preserved by “deliberate natural mammoths,” the study said. For this process, the animals are buried in the ground at different depths, seasons or soil types. The mummies must have been damaged when the ancient Egyptians dug up the reptiles and placed them in the tombs.
A collection of crocodile mummies.A special way of “heating In ancient Egypt, according to a news report from EurekAlert.
The crocodiles are congregating in a place called Qutub al-Hawa, the study said. Excavations at the Aswan site began in The findings were not revealed until the study was published in 2018.
Aswan is 510 miles south of Cairo and on the banks of the Nile.
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