Archaeologists working near the pyramids of Giza have discovered an ancient Egyptian burial ground dating back to around 2500 B.C. and hosting the tombs of high-ranking officials.
The remarkable find includes a limestone family tomb from Egypt’s fifth dynasty, a period spanning the 25th to the 24th century B.C., the country’s Ministry of Antiquities said while unveiling the site.
The tomb contains the mummies of two people: Behnui-Ka, who held seven titles during the period, including priest and judge; and Nwi, also known as the “chief of the great state” and the “purifier” of the pharaoh Khafre.
Khafre, who built the second of the three famous pyramids of Giza, is believed to have reigned for around 25 years.
Archaeologists also found various artifacts elsewhere in the tomb, officials said, including a limestone statue of one of the men, his wife, and their son.
Other parts of the burial site were used more extensively from around the seventh century B.C., they added.
A number of wooden coffins dating back to that era were found, with several featuring bright colors and elaborate decorations.
Some of the coffins also featured hieroglyphics on their lids and were found close to fragments from wooden masks.
The ministry is hopeful the new discoveries will help boost tourism to Giza, which was hit by the turmoil that followed the 2011 Arab Spring and has been slow to recover.
Giza’s long-awaited Grand Egyptian Museum has been built with this aim. Expected to open in mid-2020, the $1 billion museum will rehouse and restore some of the country’s most precious relics.
Exploring the Ancient in Athens
I will never forget cruising the Aegean Sea on the final morning aboard our Celestyal Cruise ship awaiting arrival at our next stop: the ancient city of Athens.
We’d spent an entire week reviewing islands that are well known for their beauty and important place in Greek history. We’d shared our visits to important islands—Santorini, Crete, and Delos—with a broad mixture of tourists from Albania, Turkey, Spain, Russia, and with a crew that included many Cubans and Kirghiz.
Yet it was with great interest that I scanned the coastline near Athens from the ship prior to arriving in this great world capital.
Beginning at sunrise, our ship followed the coastline northeast of Athens all the way to the Port of Piraeus. As we passed the suburbs of Athens, its most striking landmark, Lykavittos Hill, was quite clearly visible. Or was it the Acropolis itself? Athens was built on seven hills, and from a distance, it is hard to distinguish the Acropolis from Lykavittos.
It is highly unlikely that a visitor to Athens will forgo a visit to the Acropolis. Over 5 million visit it yearly—a figure that will either amaze or frighten you!
During our visit, the Acropolis seemed as alive as in 450 B.C., when Athens became the seat of Hellenic power and democracy as we understand it.
Panos, our guide, pointed out the Port of Piraeus from where we stood, and to where our cruise had ended. The Athenians had just defeated Persian King Xerxes. Thanks to Panos, it seemed as though the battle had just occurred! Panos was probably the best guide I’ve ever had, both for his knowledge and enthusiasm! For a full understanding of the Acropolis, I recommend hiring a guide in order to navigate this ancient site.
On the southwest grounds at the foot of the Acropolis, we toured the Odeon of Herod Atticus, an ancient stone theater built between A.D. 160 and A.D. 174 and reconstructed in the 1950s; concerts with world-renowned musicians are held here in the evenings. We also sat briefly in a slightly older stone theater called the Theatre of Dionysus, on the southeast section of the grounds; here, drama as an art form was born and immortals such as Aristophanes, Sophocles, and Euripides had their plays performed.
In the New Acropolis Museum, also located at the foot of the Acropolis, crowds marveled at the original Caryatids, now all preserved in Athens, save the one still in the British Museum in London.
Speaking of museums, the English word “museum” originates from the Greek word “mouseion,” which means seat of the muses and is attributed to a structure built on the nearby Hill of the Muses, also known as Filopappou Hill. Regarding English words of Greek origin, one could go on and on as the list is almost endless!
Epoch Times contributor Bruce Sach contributed to this report.