Report from Mr. Rowe at Meydum

Originally Published in 1930

View PDF

Room with a sarcophagus in it
Plate III — Ptolemaic Sarcophagi
Meydum, Egypt

The large unplundered tomb, the discovery of which I announced by cable, seems to be really a cache of coffins and mummies which had been collected together and stored there for some reason or other in a way similar to the cache of royal mummies discovered at Deir el-Bahari many years ago. From the bottom of a deep pit eight chambers radiate in various directions. About five of these chambers are piled ceiling-high with unbroken and broken coffins [Plate III]. The cache has apparently never been robbed, the broken (uppermost) coffins being damaged only by falls of rock from the ceiling. This is the biggest find of coffins I have ever seen myself in Egypt and is of the greatest importance. In fact it is the biggest collection of Ptolemaic coffins that I have ever heard of being found in one tomb. The coffins are typical of those belonging to the local people of the time, and it is of course yet too early to say what they contain. Our first view of the great cache was through a small hole in the rock which suddenly appeared in the side of a more or less empty chamber of the pit. Looking through the hole by means of a flashlight we saw numberless coffins stacked to the top of the chambers; the sight in fact was one of those rare ones which come to the excavator perhaps once in his lifetime. Suspended from the ceiling were even the ancient cob- webs made by the spiders of twenty centuries ago. Many rare amulets, pendants, great quantities of heads, have already been recovered. The tomb is of course guarded day and night until it is cleared out. For the first night our workmen were frightened to sleep down in the tomb itself (i.e., in one of the emptied tomb chambers) unless two of the staff were there, as they thought that the spirits of the dead would rise up and harm them by throwing stones or bones at them. Needless to say the men never slept at all the first night, and they passed the long hours away by telling various ghost stories. They certainly had the right setting in which to relate their experiences!

A recent cable from Mr. Rowe gives a few of the details of the quality of the finds: “Nearly thirty coffins and mummies from the new tomb mostly dating new Empire, one coffin contains mummy covered with bead network over which are golden flying scarab and gilded mask, another coffin dates twelfth dynasty and covered with texts, biggest find ever made here, now opening other tombs.”

The first season at Meydum in short gives many indications of the undertaking being increasingly prosperous, more so, perhaps, than any of us expected at the start.

Cite This Article

"Report from Mr. Rowe at Meydum." Museum Bulletin I, no. 4 (April, 1930): 7-10. Accessed July 15, 2024. https://www.penn.museum/sites/bulletin/430/


This digitized article is presented here as a historical reference and may not reflect the current views of the Penn Museum.

Report problems and issues to digitalmedia@pennmuseum.org.