Archaeology: Italian mission discovers Luxor necropolis

Amenhotep II temple found, says mission head

10 January, 18:49

(ANSAmed) - CAIRO, JANUARY 10 - Life-long archaeologist Angelo Sesana, now head of the mission carrying out excavations on the western bank of the Nile in Luxor, says with unabashed excitement that ''it moves you like little else to bring back to life someone who sought immortality 4,000 years ago.'' The mission is being conducted by the Centre of Egyptology Francesco Ballerini (CEFB) in the Egyptian city best known for the Valley of the Kings and in the area corresponding to the temple of the Pharaoh Amenhotep II, who reigned during the 18th dynasty (1427-1401 B.C.). Today the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities announced that his mission had found a necropolis and a group of canopy vases, in which the mummified innards of the dead were kept. The finds are in perfect condition. Sesana's excavations have been underway for the past fifteen years and have proved very fortunate, as the archaeologist and orientalist admits. ''When we began digging, the area was only a mound of debris.

We were in no way certain of what we would find. We only knew that, according to information provided by archaeologists at the end of the 1800s, the temple of Amenhotep II, son of Thutmosi III, was there,'' Sesana said, noting that in the 12-kilometre-square area, the last to ''scratch'' - and not conduct serious excavations with modern-day scientific methods - was the British archaeologist William Matthew Flinders Petrie.

His excavations date back to 1894-1895. ''Since then no one else has carried out excavations,'' noted the archaeologist, saying that the mission's activities include cleaning up the area, excavating and drawing up a planimetry of the area in which necropolises have surfaced from a number of eras, even ones before the pharaoh's temple was built.

Sesana's mission brought to light burials from the Middle Kingdom (1800 B.C.) through the Third Intermediate Period (1000-700 B.C.) to the Ptolemaic Era. The canopy vases are thought to have come from the tomb of a woman. They date back to the period between 1075 and 664 B.C. and, Sesana notes, were laid out in the manner of two on one side and two on the other of the burial, inside of which a sarcophagus and skeleton were found. The archaeologist said that they were unidentified. ''But another time, and it was such a strong emotion that I began jumping up and down, I found canopy vases with the inscription of the name of the dead. It was the same name as that of a sarcophagus I had identified six years before.'' ''This year has been one of incredibly great finds. Five days ago we found the tomb of a child, with a small sarcophagus in terracotta and stupendous tableware, bowls and plates. It dates back to the Middle Kingdom, 1800 B.C. Another unique find was the monumental ramp that we are in the process of consolidating. It is grandiose, spectacular,'' said Sesana, who will tomorrow be going back to Italy. But he will be coming back again to Luxor and its temple to be discovered. (ANSAmed).

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