A Hidden 'City of the Dead' Discovered With More Than 300 Tombs!

A Hidden ‘City of the Dead’ Discovered With More Than 300 Tombs!

Recently, scientists made an incredible discovery in Aswan, Egypt. They dug up a massive burial site with over 300 tombs, which they are calling the new “City of the Dead.” The establishment of this city runs back 3000-4500 years and the lives of the people of Aswan have remained a mystery until now. Among the tombs, 30%-40% of the remains belong to infants and adolescents. Most of them likely have died from infectious diseases and other life-threatening disorders.

The archaeological team has been working on this site for five years and hopes to uncover more. Let’s dive into the details and what more they have uncovered.

Unearthing the ‘City of the Dead’

The discovery by scientists and archaeologists is nothing short of spectacular. The site spans nearly 270,000 square feet and features up to 10 terraces of ancient tombs. They are in layers on a hill near the modern Mausoleum of Aga Khan III. According to Patrizia, an archaeologist at the University of Milan, tombs on the hill resemble a “City of the Dead.”

“This was a really spectacular find, very unique in Egypt. It is kind of a ‘City of the Dead’.”

Patrizia Piacentini, an archaeologist at the University of Milan described.
Image source: Daily mail

Aswan, located on the east bank of the Nile River, has always been significant. It was an essential trade hub, quarry site, and military zone. The city originally had the name Swenett and later Swan. The term means “market,” because of its strategic location where goods from the south arrived and dispersed.

Piacentini and her team have been excavating this site for five years. They revealed many layers of history and gave insights into the lives of Aswan’s ancient inhabitants. The first tomb, uncovered in 2019, contained four mummies. Initially, they were found to be a mother and child. But later they identified them as two children, with their likely mother and father nearby.

Image source: Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities / New York Post

The Tombs: A Glimpse into Ancient Lives

The team recently uncovered 36 tombs, dating from the 6th century BC to the 9th century AD. These tombs were reused over centuries and contained 30 to 40 mummies each. According to reports, many of the families have likely died from infectious diseases. The burial practices varied based on social class. Elites were buried on top of the hill, including the mummified remains of the general-in-chief of Aswan, while the middle class was buried below.

Some tombs had a casket entrance with an open courtyard surrounded by milk brick walls, while others were carved directly into the mountain rock. The remains showed that many people suffered from various diseases, including tuberculosis, anemia, malnutrition, and bone disorders. There were also signs of surgical practices, such as an amputation performed on a woman who survived the operation.

“This is their resting place. We uncover their story and then we put them back and close the tomb. For me, it was important from the beginning.”

Patrizia Piacentini, an archaeologist at the University of Milan
Image source: MSN

The Lives and Deaths of Aswan’s Inhabitants

The findings from the mummies and artifacts provide detailed insights into the lives of Aswan’s ancient inhabitants. Studies showed that 30 to 40 percent of those buried died in their youth, as newborns or adolescents. Many suffered from infectious diseases and malnutrition, and some bones showed clear signs of tuberculosis.

One notable case involves a woman whose leg is amputated. Surprisingly, it shows signs of healing, indicating that she survived the procedure. Other mummies exhibited signs of chest and bowel diseases, osteoporosis, and other medical conditions.

Image source: Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities / New York post

Aswan’s Rich Past

Aswan’s history is rich and varied. The city has been inhabited for over 4,500 years. It has served as a center for various civilizations, including the Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, and people from subtropical Africa. The city’s quarries supplied granite for many ancient monuments, and it was a crucial military post for the Romans, Turks, and British.

The population of Aswan was diverse. Its role as a trade hub made it a crossing point for people from the east and west. Goods from the south were brought to Aswan and then distributed elsewhere, making it a bustling marketplace.

“Aswan was a crossing point since forever. People were coming from the east to the west. People came here because it was the border, products from the south arrived in Aswan and then dispersed everywhere else.”

Patrizia Piacentini, an archaeologist at the University of Milan
Image source: Daily Mail

Artifacts and Offerings

In addition to the mummies, the tombs contained a variety of artifacts, including pottery, wooden objects, and sacrificial tables. These items provide insights into ancient Egyptian burial customs and daily life. Offerings they made in many tombs show the beliefs and practices of the time.


This discovery is significant as it offers a unique glimpse into ancient Egyptian society. The ongoing and future excavations will likely reveal even more about the lives of the people who lived in Aswan over 2,000 years ago. For anyone interested in history, culture, and the mysteries of the ancient world, this find is a fascinating chapter in our understanding of human civilization.

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