One Million Mummies – Video: A cemetery with a million mummified bodies found in Egypt

Updated: December 21, 2014
One Million Mummies - Video: A cemetery with a million mummified bodies found in Egypt

One Million Mummies? If the thought of mummies makes you recoil, you might consider staying far away from Egypt for awhile. A team of researchers from Brigham Young University recently unearthed a cemetery there a million mummies strong.

The mummified remains of over 1,700 people have already been excavated in the cemetery, referred to as Fag el-Gamous (“Way of the Water Buffalo”), which is located roughly 100 kilometers south of Cairo in the Faiyum region.

Archaeologists say the site could contain well over a million bodies based on the density of the burials and the size of the cemetery.

The mummies date back to around 1,500 years ago, during Egypt’s Roman and Byzantine empires. Those buried appear to be ordinary people, according Live Science.

The bodies mummified naturally over time as a result of hot and arid desert conditions in the area, and were laid to rest in deep limestone rock shafts. Some of these shafts go over 30 meters below the ground.

The team of archaeologists behind the monumental find hails from Brigham Young University in Utah and have yet to discover where the million mummies came from. An ancient town located nearby – named Philadelphia after King Ptolemy II Philadelphus – would have been too small to explain such a large-scale cemetery. The town also had its own burial sites.

Interestingly, the mummies appear to be grouped together according to hair color, with blondes buried in one area and redheads in another.

“Perhaps we have family areas or genetic groups [in certain areas], but we’re still trying to explore that,” said project director Professor Kerry Muhlestein, adding that several mummies’ teeth were in unusually good condition.

The cemetery was first unearthed nearly 30 years ago, but excavation work had never been thoroughly undertaken until recently, the report says.

The site is located close to a small pyramid, known as the Seila pyramid, which may also be one of the oldest pyramids to have ever been constructed.

The team of archaeologists is presently creating a database to catalog the mummies it has excavated in order to better understand burial patterns and learn more about the lifespan of people in the area.