An Italian-Spanish archeological team on Friday prepared to launch a dig in an extraordinary tomb whose discovery was announced six months ago.
The tomb belongs to May, an important government officer of the XVIII dynasty, an era ruled by pharoahs such as Tutankhamon and the "heretic" pharoah Akhenaton, who established a sun cult dedicated to the sun disk Aton, among others. The tomb dacks back 3500 years and is found on the western side of Luxor, in the necropolis of Thebes. "It will take 10 years of work to open it to the public," explained the Italian and Spanish project leaders, Irene Morfini and Mila Alvarez Sosa. The two, young passionate archeologists head the Min Project, an excavation of the tomb of Min (TT109) and its extension Kampp-327. The project is sponsored by Fiat and Nile Engineering, said Fiat Chrysler Egypt CEO Maciej Ratynski at a ceremony in the Italian embassy in Cairo.
A fresco in the Maya tomb, Luxor
The site may conceal sensational discoveries. The team came upon the tomb of May through a horizontal tunnel located within the Min, which was also visited two centuries ago by the legendary Jean Francois Champollion, considered the father of Egyptology "It was just an inspection of the site, we have not dug anything," said the team. The few images available show extraordinary frescoes on all of the walls, but await approval for release from the Egyptian antiquities ministry, which has collaborated on the project. Next to the two main tombs there is another, Kampp-327, which is still shrouded in mystery. The identification of May was made possible thanks to a funerary taper, found by chance as the team entered the tomb. The start of the excavations, planned for mid-October, will begin from the "courtyard", the contours of which one can see in the pictures of the site. "But here you can see some dark sand, a sign that there are probably mummies," explained the two archeologists. They have had to wait to return to the narrow passages interrupted by the ancient tomb's gigantic rooms, as excavations in Egypt are limited to a few winter months. Now they are just weeks from removing the stone that blocks access to the secrets of May.