Alexandria has yet again yielded an archaeological site buried underneath the modern city.
In order to obtain a building permit in Egypt, it is a pre-requirement to obtain approval from the archaeological authority which would normally install probes to inspect the site. This is what happened in the case of a projected wall to fence a number of workshops at Gabal al-Zaytoun railway station in Alexandria, where the Egyptian archaeological mission, head by Fahima al-Nahhas, Director-General of Excavations of Alexandria, discovered a Ptolemaic necropolis under the city’s western cemetery.
Ayman Ashmawi, head of the Egyptian Antiquities Sector said that a number of rock-hewn collective graves were discovered as separate architectural units; each consisting of a staircase leading to a small hall that may have been used as a visitor area, an open courtyard surrounded by burial recesses, as well as a funerary cistern and other utilities or tableware the members of the dead’s family used when visiting the tomb.
Early studies, Dr Ashmawi said, indicate that the tombs remained in use for long periods of time, and belonged to the poorer classes since they have few coloured layers or inscriptions. “The architectural plans of some tombs,” he added, “were later modified with containers or basins added and some burial recesses closed, which proves that successive generations reused the tombs.”
A number of lamps decorated with animal scenes were found, as was a cistern for funerary rituals, and clay and glass pots.
Skeletons and human bones were also found but in a messy condition, possibly owing to the building of the railway station above in the 1930s.
Mustafa Waziri, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said that Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities has allocated a sum of money for further works to preserve the find.
28 August 2018