Haul of Predynastic Graves Excavated in the Nile Delta

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Haul of Predynastic Graves Excavated in the Nile Delta

On Tuesday, 27 April 2021, the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced that archaeologists have excavated 110 ancient burial tombs in n

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On Tuesday, 27 April 2021, the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced that archaeologists have excavated 110 ancient burial tombs in northern Egypt, some of which were found to have human remains. The discovery was made in the Koum el-Khulgan archaeological site, in the Nile Delta province of Dakahlia, around 150 kilometers (93 miles) northeast of Cairo, Egypt.

A report on Phys.org says the ancient grave site includes “37 rectangular-shaped tombs” from the Second Intermediate Period (1782 BC to 1570 BC). Five graves contained oval-shaped tombs which date back to the incredibly distant Naqada III period (3200 BC to 3000 BC).

What is most unusual here is that while the graves are void of gold, silver and jewels, no less that 68 of them could be up to 8,000 years old. The archaeologists believe that these remaining “68 oval-shaped tombs” date as far back as the Predynastic Period (6000 BC to 3150 BC). Within these deeply-ancient burials the researchers unearthed the remains of adults, children, funerary items and ritually placed pottery.

Ancient burial tomb unearthed with human remains found in the Koum el-Khulgan archeological site in the Nile Delta province of Dakahlia. ( Egyptian Tourism and Antiquities Ministry )

Egypt’s Nile Delta Long Before Royal Dynasties, Pomp and Ceremony

Finding a new premise for articles about ancient tombs being discovered in Egypt is becoming really difficult. In the last three years a conveyor belt of hundreds of coffins and thousands of treasures has been rolled out of the necropolis at Saqqara with its vast pyramids, tombs and water shaft burials. But these newly-discovered burials from the Nile Delta area come from an entirely different version of Egypt, before all the pomp and ceremony.

According to Live Science , in February 2020 the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities released a statement that Egyptian archaeologists had uncovered 83 tombs dating back to 4000 BC (Naqada III) period at the Koum el-Khulgan archaeological site. They also uncovered fragments of pottery in many different shapes and styles, and collections of seashells, makeup application tools, eyeliner pots, and jewels. All the hallmarks of culture. Not a rich one, but an emerging culture never the less.

Archaeologists have unearthed 110 burial tombs at the Nile Delta archaeological site of Koum el-Khulgan, such as this grave which contained human remains and pottery. (Egyptian Tourism and Antiquities Ministry)

Archaeologists have unearthed 110 burial tombs at the Nile Delta archaeological site of Koum el-Khulgan, such as this grave which contained human remains and pottery. ( Egyptian Tourism and Antiquities Ministry )

Forefathers of the Pyramid Builders

The Naqada culture existed during the Chalcolithic era, or Copper Age, and while this period is not that well understood, the most fascinating aspect of the 110 newly discovered graves is that 68 of them date to the Predynastic Period , between 6000 BC and 3150 BC. While we are all very aware of the styles and riches of later people in Egypt, this is a major haul in the predynastic world, about which relatively little is known.

Britannia claims that the peoples of predynastic Egypt were “the successors of the Paleolithic inhabitants of northeastern Africa, who had spread over much of its area; during wet phases they had left remains in regions as inhospitable as the Great Sand Sea.” And so began the rapid change from the nomadic hunter-gatherer way of life of Paleolithic times to settled agrarian lifestyles.

Sometime after 5000 BC people began hunting less as the skills of raising crops emerged and spread across Egypt. At first there were small groups of self-contained people living in settlements but they began moving southward through Egypt into the oases and the Sudan. The 110 ancient graves belong to the progenitors of the Egyptians who would built stone Pyramids to reach the stars.

The sheer number of graves at this time indicates that a large population of people lived in this area from as early as 6000 BC. The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities is now positive that they will soon be unearthing more ancient graves at the Koum el-Khulgan archaeological site in the Nile Delta.

Top image: Recently unearthed ancient burial tombs in the Koum el-Khulgan archeological site, in the Nile Delta province of Dakahlia. Source: Egyptian Tourism and Antiquities Ministry

By Ashley Cowie

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