Ancient Egyptians were captivated by gold. They considered gold “the skin of the gods” and associated it with eternity. They wore elaborate jewelry to enhance their beauty, indicate their social status and to express their spirituality. Egypt’s connection with gold dates back more than 5,000 years, and the goldsmiths who worked with the precious metal were held in the highest regard.
On Saturday, Dr. Khaled El-Enany of the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry announced the discovery of a 3,500-year-old tomb built for a prominent goldsmith named Amenemhat and his wife, Amenhotep. The tomb is located near the Nile River at the cemetery of Dra’ Abu el-Naga in Luxor, an ancient city often characterized as the “world’s greatest open-air museum.”
Hieroglyphic inscriptions found inside the tomb affirmed the name of its owner and his profession. Buried with their parents were two adult children.
Archaeologists, led by Dr. Mostafa Waziri, Director General of Luxor, used a ladder to descend 20 feet into the tomb. The entrance led to a square chamber, where a partly damaged sandstone statue depicted Amenemhat sitting in a high-back chair next to his wife, who is wearing a long dress and a wig. Between them, in a smaller scale, is a figure of one of their sons.
Objects, such as gilded coffins, vessels, death masks, obelisks, statues — and jewelry — were often placed in Egyptian tombs to accompany the deceased to the afterlife. Amenemhat’s tomb included jewelry, but the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry has yet to release photos of these items.
Dr. El-Enany explained that the distinguished couple and their two sons lived in the 15th century B.C. Archaeologists believe that the tomb was also reused during the 11th and 10th centuries B.C.
Ancient Egyptians’ affinity for gold was bolstered by the vast natural resources that were being mined in Egypt’s Eastern Desert and Nubia (“nub” is the Egyptian word for gold).
Credit: Tomb photos courtesy of the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry; Luxor temple photo by Hajor, via Wikimedia Commons, released under cc.by.sa.