During excavation work carried out at the Gerza archaeological site in Fayoum, an Egyptian archaeological mission has uncovered the remains of a Ptolemaic and Greek funerary building and a collection of painted portraits and mummies, writes Nevine El-Aref.
The mission also stumbled upon a collection of anthropoid painted coffins and found a rare terracotta statue of the goddess Isis-Aphrodite in one of the burials inside a wooden coffin.
Mustafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), explained that the new discovery illustrates the diversity in the accuracy and quality of the embalming process during the Ptolemaic and Roman periods in Egypt, which indicates the economic stature of the deceased, starting from high-quality embalming to simple burials.
Regarding the funerary building, Adel Okasha, head of the Central Department for Egyptian Antiquities in Central Egypt, described the building as a large one with a coloured gypsum tiled floor and decorated with interchangeable tiles. On its southern side, there is a colonnade, of which four columns survive.
Okasha said that among the most important objects found were the portraits of the mummies, the first to be found since the discovery of the portraits unearthed by British Egyptologist Flinders Petrie more than 115 years ago.
The mission has been working in Gerza since 2016 and has uncovered objects that define the main features of the site. It has found a collection of tombs showing popular architectural styles in the third century BCE and a mix between the ancient Egyptian and Greek architectural styles.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 15 December, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly