Archaeologist Opens Tomb Of Egyptian Vizier

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No one who has ever visited Egypt -- seen the sands and pyramids, gotten lost in the chaos of the cities -- would ask what attracts archaeologist Penny Minturn to the country.

"The people are kind and friendly and the antiquities are incredible," she said.

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Dr. Penny Minturn digs in Abydos, Egypt during a recent search for the tomb of a grand vizier.

And, being from Arizona, she has an affinity for the desert.

Dr. Minturn will discuss her recent trip to the Middle Cemetery in Abydos, Egypt at 1 p.m. Friday in room 301 at Gila Community College.

When archaeologists wish to dig, they apply to the Egyptian Antiquities Council for different concessions to archaeological sites.

As she did in 1999, Minturn returned to Egypt, through her affiliation with the University of Michigan.

On this most recent trip, Minturn and her fellow scientists were looking for the tomb of the Grand Vizier.

"We found him," Minturn said.

A French nobleman excavated the Grand Vizier's tomb in 1837, and "took the big, pretty stuff," Minturn said.

But, the location of the Grand Vizier's tomb needed to be re-established, because archaeologists of 170 years ago did not keep good records.

When the archaeological team found the tomb, they knew, like most tombs in 21st Century Egypt, it had been plundered of the deceased's statuary and elaborate funerary vases. But there was still history left behind to be discovered. The rooms of the Grand Vizier's final resting place had tales to tell of ancient construction, and hieroglyphs painted on the tomb walls tell stories of the lives of the man buried there.

"One interesting thing we discovered was that the son had come back in after his father's death and modified the writings on the wall to reflect information about himself as the new vizier," Minturn said.

The team knew this, because they had discovered the son's tomb during a 1999 excavation.

Minturn looks forward to the time when she can return to Egypt on a dig.

She will show photographs, answer questions about her experiences and discuss modern Egypt on Friday at the college.

"Come see the show," she said.

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