Egypt in News: Mummies, Museums and Tombs

(Last Updated On: October 10, 2023)

From late 2017 to early 2018, Egypt welcomed a variety of exciting new developments and discoveries. The country’s tourism industry, which is central to Egypt’s economy, had seen a massive decline after years of political turmoil. However, these announcements are expected to increase visitor numbers and re-establish the Land of the Pharaohs as a popular holiday destination.

Find out more about Egypt’s most recent tomb discoveries, a mummy and the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum:

View of Cairo in Egypt
The city of Cairo where a 4,400 year old tomb was recently discovered

Hetpet’s Tomb Found

The most recent of Egypt’s string of discoveries was a 4,400-year-old tomb just outside the capital of Cairo. Archaeologists believe the mud-brick tomb belonged to a woman known as Hetpet. A known figure in Egyptian antiquity, Hetpet is thought to have been close to the royals of the 5th dynasty.

Although her mummy has not been found, fragments of her artefacts were discovered in the same area in 1909. Within the tomb, wall paintings were also found depicting Hetpet observing different fishing and hunting scenes. Interestingly, another wall painting depicts a monkey – a common domestic animal at that time – dancing in front of an orchestra.

Archaeologists have been making discoveries near the site since the 19th century. Located within the wider area of Giza’s western necropolis, the zone is known to hold tombs from the Old Kingdom. The most recent excavation was led by Mustafa Waziri, who believes there is still more to be found. Waziri informed reporters that up to 300 cubic metres of earth were moved to uncover the tomb. Work is also already underway to find Hetpet’s second tomb.

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West Bank of Luxor in Egypt
The West Bank of the Nile at Luxor where two tombs were recently opened

Mummy Discovered in Luxor

Two previously unexplored tombs were finally brought into the light of day in late 2017. Although originally surveyed by a German Egyptologist in the 1990s, one was never opened and the other only excavated to its entrance. Alongside carved figurines, a spectacular mural and wooden masks, the biggest discovery was a 3,500-year-old mummy wrapped in linen – believed to be that of a senior official.

The tombs lie in a cemetery on the west bank of the Nile, close to the Valley of the Kings. Dating to the 18th Dynasty, the official most likely served at the ancient capital of Thebes, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Both tombs are large structures, with one featuring a courtyard and a six-metre burial shaft leading to four side chambers. In contrast, the other has five entrances, with a rectangular hall containing two burial shafts.

Copy of King Tutankhamun's gold funerary mask
A replica of the funerary mask of King Tutankhamun, whose gold treasures are now in LA

King Tut’s Treasures go on Tour

The boy pharaoh of the 18th Egyptian Dynasty, King Tutankhamun ruled for only ten years before his sudden death at the age of 19. But despite his short reign, Tutankhamun is one of the best-known ancient Egyptian kings due to the discovery of his tomb. Excavated in the Valley of the Kings in 1922, his remains and golden treasures have held millions in awe.

Previously exhibited in Cairo, King Tut’s treasures were recently transported more than 7,500 miles to be displayed in Los Angeles. More than 150 original artefacts, many of which haven’t been seen outside Cairo, were packed into 20 crates and travelled with their own special security team. The world premiere of the ‘King Tut: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh’ exhibition will run from March 24th 2018 to January 6th 2019 before moving to Europe. The items will then go on permanent display back in Cairo.

Tickets for the exhibition are already selling fast. If you’re planning a trip to Los Angeles we would recommended booking soon to avoid disappointment.

Ramses II Statue in Egypt
The 3,000 year old Ramses II Statue which has been moved to the Grand Egyptian Museum

Grand Egyptian Museum Opening

Hailed as the most impressive structure built in Cairo since the Great Pyramids, the Grand Egyptian Museum is set to open in late August 2018. The building is the world’s largest archaeological museum and cost nearly $1 billion to build. The 650,000-square-foot building will hold thousands of ancient artefacts, many of which have never been seen by the public. The museum was in the works for nearly a decade and tens of thousands of visitors are expected per day. The blockbuster exhibition will reveal King Tutankhamun’s tomb and the museum’s latest technology includes virtual reality.

Dublin-based company, Heneghan Peng, designed the building after winning one of the largest architectural competitions in history. Organizers received 1,557 entries from 82 countries before deciding on a winner. The building lies just two kilometres from the pyramids and is shaped like a chambered triangle, with a translucent stone wall constituting the front facade. The north and south walls align with the Great Pyramid of Khufu and the Pyramid of Menkaure. A large plaza sits in front of the building and is filled with date plants. Inside the entrance is a large atrium housing 43 statues, including a 3,000 year old statue of Ramses II – one of Egypt’s most famous pharaohs.

Want to explore the Grand Egyptian Museum and more of Egypt’s ancient wonders? All our group tours start and end in Cairo.