Egyptian Archaeologists Discover 3500-Year-Old Tomb of Goldsmith to the Pharaohs

Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images
Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

Egyptian archaeologists have discovered the 3500-year-old tomb of a royal goldsmith. His name was Amenemhat, and his tomb was found in Draa Abul-Naga, a necropolis for elites and rulers located near the Valley of the Kings, in the southern Egyptian province of Luxor.

Amenemhat lived sometime during the 18th Dynasty (16th–14th century BCE). His tomb was dedicated to the god Amun-Re. It took archaeologists five months of digging to find a burial shaft leading to a chamber where they discovered a sarcophagus, mummies, and about 150 funerary statues and masks. Statues of Amenemhat and his wife, wearing a wig and a long dress, sat side by side in the chamber; a smaller statue of one of their sons rested between them, The New York Times reports.

egyptian archaeologist restoring the sarcophagus of a goldsmith
An Egyptian archaeologist restores an ornately decorated wood sarcophagus discovered in the tomb of Amenemhat, a royal goldsmith.
Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

More mummies, partially unwrapped, were discovered in a burial shaft. "We are not sure if these mummies belong to Amenemhat and his family," lead archaeologist Mostafa Waziri told the Times. "Others have clearly reused this tomb and poked around in ancient times. That’s probably why their heads are uncovered."

A laborer cleans an ancient skull in a goldsmith's tomb in egypt
Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

Amenemhat's tomb is not the most important find ever made in a country well known for its vast archaeological riches, but it comes at a time when Egypt is still trying to recover from the years of internal strife, terrorism, and violence that have followed in the wake of the uprising of 2011, which culminated in the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. Tourism—a huge driver of Egypt's economy—plummeted, though there are signs the industry has begun to recover.

Egypt's antiquities minister, Khaled el-Enany, said as much in a news conference held outside the tomb over the weekend. "This find is important for marketing," he noted. "This is exactly what Egypt needs."

See more images of the discovery below.

Small funerary statues carved in wood, clay and limestone
Small funerary statues discovered in the tomb were carved in wood, clay, and limestone.
Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

Jewelry, statues, and other artifacts discovered in the tomb.
Jewelry, statues, and other artifacts discovered in the tomb.
Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

Skulls and bone remains placed next to a wooden sacrophagus.
Skulls and bone remains placed next to a wooden sacrophagus.
Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

Advanced CT Scans Reveal Blood Vessels and Skin Layers in a Mummy's Hand

Jenny Romell, et al./Radiology
Jenny Romell, et al./Radiology

Mummies hold some intriguing secrets to their pasts, like the food they ate and the diseases they had when they were alive. Now scientists are using a tool originally designed for medicine to get an even deeper look at the clues mummified bodies carry with them into the present day, Gizmodo reports.

In a proof-of-concept study published in the journal Radiology, researchers from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden detail how a new-and-improved CT scanning technique can be used to visualize the interior of mummies on a microscopic level. By creating detailed X-ray images, CT scans allow doctors to see inside their patients without invasive surgery. Archaeologists have been using this technology to study delicate ancient artifacts for years, but the level of detail that can be achieved this way—especially when it comes to looking at interior soft tissue—is limited.

The upgraded version of the tech, called phase-contrast CT scanning, measures the phase shift, or the change in the position of a light wave, that occurs when X-rays pass through solid objects. The images generated this way have a higher contrast level than conventional X-rays, which means they capture more detail.

Cross-section of mummy hand.
Jenny Romell, et al./Radiology

Doctors have been using this 10-year-old technology to examine soft tissues like organs and veins in living patients, but it hadn't been used on a mummy until recently. Working with a mummified human right hand dating back to 400 BCE in Egypt, which they borrowed from the Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities in Stockholm, the researchers fired up a phase-contrast CT scanner. It produced images with a resolution of 6 to 9 microns, giving a clear picture of the different layers of skin, individual cells in the connective tissue, and the blood vessels in the nail bed—all without damaging the artifact. Previously, researchers looking to study these same tissues in mummies would have needed to use a scalpel.

As Ars Technica reports, a phase-contrast CT scanner is similar in cost to the conventional machine. The study authors hope their work will lead to phase-contrast CT scanning becoming just as common in archaeology as regular CT scanning, potentially creating new research opportunities in mummies that will be discovered in the future and even in artifacts that have already been examined.

[h/t Gizmodo]

A 2.63-Carat Diamond Was Unearthed by a Grandmother at an Arkansas State Park

iStock
iStock

Visitors to the Crater of Diamonds Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas clearly have an objective in mind: Excavate one of the diamonds lurking on or beneath the park's soil, the onetime site of a volcanic crater. If they do, it's theirs to keep.

Earlier this month, a 71-year-old grandmother from Colorado made the biggest discovery on park grounds of 2018: a 2.63-carat ice white diamond. And she did it in about 10 minutes.

The retiree, who asked media outlets not to identify her by name, visited Crater of Diamonds with her husband, son, and grandchildren. After briefly scraping away dirt, she saw the gem on the surface. The diamond was so large and clear—roughly the size of a pinto bean—that she assumed it was just a piece of glass. Further inspection by her family and park personnel revealed it was a diamond.

Park officials told press that employees frequently till the soil, which can loosen the gems and allow them to catch the reflection of the sun, making them easier to spot. Roughly 33,000 diamonds have been found by visitors since the park opened in 1972.

It's hard to know the exact value of the diamond. While there is a certain fluctuating value assigned to a carat, appraisers also look at three other "Cs": clarity, color, and cut. A two-carat diamond is often more than double the price of a one-carat diamond because the larger gems are more rare. But tourists have profited from their finds: In 2015, a visitor retrieved a 8.51-carat white diamond that was cut down to 4.6 carats by a jeweler and valued by the American Gem Society at $500,000.

[h/t WGN TV]

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