jueves, 15 de diciembre de 2011

Momias enterradas cerca de la pirámide de Seila

Momias enterradas cerca de la pirámide de Seila

The million mummy question: Why are there a million mummies buried near Snefu's Seila pyramid?


Nearly 4,600 years ago a third dynasty pharaoh named Snefru launched one of the greatest construction projects in human history.

He decided, for reasons that are unknown to us, to build four pyramids scattered at different places across Egypt. He constructed two of them at Dashur (the Red and Bent pyramids), one at Meidum and another at a place called Seila. Together they used up more material than Khufu’s pyramid at Giza.

Casing stones were used to give them a smooth appearance – in other words make them into “true pyramids." This was the first time in Egyptian history that this was done.

Today a team from Brigham Young University, in Utah, is investigating these pyramids, trying to figure out why Snefru would build four of them in the way he did.

One of the puzzles the team is trying to decipher involves a cemetery not far from the Seila Pyramid. It’s a 40 minute hike away and research indicates that it has an enormous number of mummies. “We estimate over a million bodies in this cemetery,” said Professor Kerry Muhlestein in an interview with Heritage Key. It’s “very very densely populated by mummies.”
Only a small percentage of them have been unearthed. “We’ve been digging there for 30 years and we could dig there for a hundred more and still have only done a small percentage,” said Muhlestein.

Results indicate that the cemetery was not in use during Snefru’s time. In fact the earliest burials appear to be from the Middle Kingdom – at least 600 years after the Seila pyramid was constructed. Furthermore most of the burials are even later than that.

“For the most part the cemetery is Graeco-Roman period, from the Ptolemaic era down to the end of the Byzantine era,” said Muhlestein. This period started when Alexander the Great entered Egypt in 332 BC.

So the question is why did so many people – who lived long after Snefru’s reign – choose to be buried so close to the Seila Pyramid?

A sacred place
Making this question more enticing is that this wasn’t just a local cemetery. People seem to have come some distance to be interned here.

“It’s such a huge cemetery it’s hard to account for where all these people would have lived – the population centres around there don’t seem to substantiate that many burials,” said Professor Muhlestein.

“Maybe these are people coming from a variety of communities, all around, being buried in this place. We’re not sure what would account for such a large number of burials.”

Could there be a connection to the pyramid? Despite the fact that it was built thousands of years before most of these people were buried? Muhlestein believes that it’s a real possibility – but one hard to prove unless textual evidence is found. “It probably is at least partially responsible for why there’s a cemetery there,” said Muhlestein.

“It seems very reasonable to suppose that the pyramid designated that as a sacred place,” he said. “Once that place is a sacred place it typically will remain a sacred place.”

A family of mummies
In early 2010 the Brigham Young team continued their work. The university has a program that lets students learn field techniques while excavating at the site.
It’s an interesting, and indeed fairly rare, opportunity for students. You won’t find too many field-schools, who accept undergraduates, operating in Egypt. Muhlestein said that they have had an excellent experience with this program and the most recent dig turned up, what appears to be, a family who lived at some point during the early/mid 1st millennium AD, when Christianity was widespread in Egypt.

They found an adult male and female buried close together with an infant at their feet and a toddler on their chest. “We think this might be a family but we’ll have to do some DNA analysis to know for sure,” said Muhlestein.

Each of them was buried with their head facing to the east, “this is probably indicative of the advent of Christianity,” said Muhlestein.

The family does not appear to have been very wealthy. They were mummified, but without all the chemical treatments seen in wealthier burials. “A poor man’s version of mummification,” is how Muhlestein described it.

The only grave goods the team found were palm branches. The mummies were covered with a layer of wrapping, which had ribbons on it, that had badly deteriorated.

imagen momia


pirámide Seila en la actualidad

Fotos del artículo de heritage-key.com

La pirámid está bastante deteriorada, aqui vemos la maqueta de la estructura que aparece en el artículo que cité en el primer post, de heritage key
En la pirámide Seila, han parado las excavaciones debido a los conflictos, según noticia que apareció ayer, día 5 de febrero

Work suspended at 4,600 year-old Seila Pyramid in Egypt

Work has been suspended for now at the 4,600 year old Seila Pyramid in Egypt.
The structure was built by the pharaoh Snefru, the father of Khufu.
Photo courtesy Professor Kerry Muhlestein

Archaeological work has been suspended at the 4,600 year-old Seila Pyramid in Egypt.
Excavation and research at the site has been going on for nearly three decades now by a team led by Professor Wilfred Griggs of Brigham Young University.
Seila is one of four pyramids constructed by the pharaoh Snefru. The father of Khufu, this ruler revolutionized pyramid building by constructing the first “true” pyramids, with flat sides that angle up towards the sky.
There is a vast cemetery near the pyramid, estimated to hold nearly one million mummies. Most of the people buried there date to Graeco-Roman times (starting ca. 2,300 years ago) or later.
The past few days have seen widespread protests across Egypt, with demonstrators demanding that President Hosni Mubarak, a man who has led the country for 30 years, resign.
Professor Griggs said in a telephone interview from Cairo that antiquities officials are not permitting work to be done at the pyramid, “they’re worried about robbing and looting.” With the US government urging its citizens to leave the country, the Brigham Young team will depart in a few days.
Griggs emphasized that he has no information to indicate that Seila and its cemetery has been robbed and thinks it unlikely. “I hope they have not been.” From his conversations with antiquities officials they are more concerned about the general area that the pyramid is located in – to the north looting attempts have been reported at the sites of Abusir and Saqqara.

Owen Jarus


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