The Egyptian Antiquities Ministry has revoked the excavation license of a team of archeologists who claimed that an estimated one million mummies were buried in an Egyptian cemetery. Youssef Khalifa from the Ministry is at the head of the dispute, stating that there are thousands and not millions of bodies – and that they’re not even mummies.
Last week, an estimated 1,700 bodies were unearthed at the Egyptian cemetery, Fag el-Gamous, which means “Way of the Water Buffalo”, roughly 60 miles south of Cairo. At the time, Brigham Young University excavation team leader, Kerry Muhlestein, asserted that the ancient burial ground housed millions of mummies. A number of news outlets picked up the story, including the Daily Mail and, well, us.
“We are fairly certain we have over a million burials within this cemetery. It’s large, and it’s dense,” Muhlestein, an associate professor in the Department of Ancient Scripture, said at the time, adding, “It’s hard to know where all these people were coming from.”
The Egyptian Antiquities Ministry is now debunking the information recently reported by the crew, however, stating that an estimated one million mummies are not, in fact, buried in the Egyptian cemetery.
In refute of the BYU team’s reports, Khalifa released a statement to the Luxor Times on behalf of the Ministry:
“What was published in the newspaper is not true. There are no million mummies, a mummy definition to begin with means a complete mummified body and there is only one mummy found at the site of Fag El Gamous in 1980 which is at the Egyptian museum since then. In the past few seasons of the mission’s work at the site, only poor skeletons were found and some thousands of bone’s remains. The mission violated the rules and regulations of the agreement with the Ministry of Antiquities concerning making press statements and that’s why the committee of the ancient Egypt department took the decision to stop their permission to work at the site after 28 years of working at the site and the last season finished last March.”
In response, Muhlestein is quoted as saying, “I believe there have been some misunderstandings. I would like to work this out with the Ministry, for whom I have the greatest respect.”