The Valley of the Golden Mummies is a vast necropolis, some 230 miles southwest of Cairo. Teams of archaeologists who were excavating the tombs have estimated that the site could contain as many as 10,000 mummies, making it one of the biggest discoveries ever made in Egypt.
In the fist tomb excavated ( No 54 ) 43 mummies were inventoried.
- The first was the mummy of a female. The height of this lady is about 1.55 m.
- A lady lay beside her husband, her head turned towards her him.
There were several basic styles recorded. The First style, which was found on approximately sixty mummies, has a gilded mask covering the face and a gilded waistcoat depicting different scenes of gods and goddesses across the chest.
The Second style is covered with cartonnage. This method consisted of covering the face of the mummy with a mask made out of linen and plaster. This mask was then decorated with many colorful reliefs. The mouth eyes of the deceased were then painted on the mask to give a clearer image of his face.
The Third style was not decorated with gold or cartonnage, but rather was placed inside an anthropoid, a pottery coffin.
The Fourth style was covered in linen.
The first season of excavations in Bahariya started in 1999, by an Egyptian team who found a total of 108 mummies in four tombs.
The second season’s excavations in 2000 revealed another seven tombs and 103 mummies.
The 2001 season a further three tombs were uncovered, containing 22 mummies.
Each tomb has a distinctive architectural style, just as each mummy is differently decorated.
Mummification in this period reached its peak, contrary to what is claimed about the deterioration of mummification in the Roman period. The most important point about mummification is that they started to put sticks made of reeds on the right and left side of the mummy and cover the mummy with linen. This method made the mummy very stable and can last even longer that those mummies of the Pharaonic period.
They are collectively referred to as the Golden Mummies since many of them are housed in gilded sarcophagi, giving them a very distinctive look.
The excavation at the Valley of the Golden Mummies has been stopped because too many of the mummies and too much of the surrounding structure was being destroyed. Archaeologists and conservators are now working towards preserving the mummies in situ and restoring the tombs with new ceilings. Their aim is to carry on excavating for one season each year