Tuna El Gabal region played an important and critical role during the Greek and Roman eras in Egypt, as it included the cemetery of the sacred animals— a huge collection of catacombs and underpasses that extends by more than 10 kilometers— in which a large number of ibis and baboon monkey mummies were discovered.
Egyptian archaeologists are currently conducting studies and tests to unravel its mysteries and uncover the secrets of some of the rare artifacts recently found in the region, including “A bottle of perfume” and “mysterious papyrus”.
Dr. Ahmed Badran, professor of archaeology at Cairo University and head of the joint Egyptian-German archaeological mission that operates in the Tuna El Gabal area, pointed out: “the results of scientific and archaeological examinations will be announced in a final report at the end of this year.”
“We discovered a glass perfume bottle in the excavations in May 2017; It was in perfect shape, which was very remarkable and considered to be a rare case,” he added.
He revealed that when they opened the bottle, it smelled pungent and beautiful from the fossilized remains at the bottom, despite it hundreds of years have passed, and yet, the fragrance remained in good condition.
The substance was sent to the National Research Center for analysis, where the first scientific report results showed that the fragrance oil used was from the lotus flower.
Badran confirmed that the age of this fragrance is about 1400 years; a distinctive first-class perfume, made especially for the nobility and was often used by high priests of Thoth, and therefore it was named “The priest’s perfume.”
Researchers are currently conducting new tests to accurately identify the fragrance components, which will be revealed in the coming months.
Badran pointed out that they also discovered two papyri in the area that were in poor condition and are still under examination.
The first papyri are large and are the first part of “Book of the Dead”, which were discovered inside the catacombs underground.
The professor predicted that some part of it was likely damaged due to the thieves tampering with gold in those catacombs.
It is currently being restored at the Conservation Laboratory of Egyptian Museum, to examine its texts, which is written in Demotic, ancient Egyptian calligraphy that was widely used in the late Greek and Roman times.
The second papyrus was discovered inside a pot, it is believed to include a collection of accounts and materials used in the daily administrative work of the temple, such as oils and incense.
However, due to its poor condition, the archaeologists could not take it out of the pot and read it through.
The joint archaeological mission will announce the new discoveries in November, in conjunction with the return of excavation season in the region.
They are working to complete the study of the human cemetery and the study of a Roman-era settlement on top of the Nafusa Mountains, to uncover the secrets of creating that settlement away from Sahl Aljabal.
On the history of the Tuna El Gabal city, Hussein Bassir, renown Egyptian archaeologist, said that the city underwent excavations for almost a hundred years by the German archaeologist Roder and the famous Egyptian archaeologist Sami Jabra.
Work was later resumed on the site by the joint mission of the Universities of Cairo and Munich, resulting in the discovery of the largest human cemetery last year.
The site includes the ruins of the Great Temple of Thoth and the houses that were inhabited by priests, as well as another temple and the tomb of the priest of Thoth, the famous tomb of Isadora, and a settlement of ancient Egyptian houses known as tower houses.
Contributed by Yara Sameh