An archaeological mission at the Taposiris Magna Temple in western Alexandria, Egypt, has revealed 16 burial shafts dating to the Greek and Roman periods. According to a Facebook post by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, the researchers found evidence of a tongue made of gold foil in the mouth of at least one mummy, although the announcement did not specify how many mummies unearthed also had “remnants of gilded cartonnage” and “amulets of gold foil in the form of a tongue” in their mouths.
This ritual was meant to ensure that the deceased could speak to the god Osiris’s court in the afterlife. The ministry said in its release on social media that this practice was “characteristic of mummification in the Greek and Roman eras” and that the mummies were found “in a poor state of preservation.”
The mission was led by Kathleen Martinez of the University of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, who, according to a report by CNN, has identified two mummies of particular importance. CNN details that “one bears gilded decorations showing Osiris, the god of the afterlife, while the other wears a crown decorated with horns and a cobra snake on the forehead” as well as a “gilded decoration depicting a necklace, from which hangs the head of a falcon, the symbol of the god Horus” on the chest.
Other significant findings included the funeral mask of a woman and eight marble masks that date to the Greek and Roman periods. The ministry said in a statement that “these masks show high craftsmanship in sculpture.” Previously, coins depicting Queen Cleopatra VII have been found inside the Taposiris Magna Temple, which is believed to have been built by King Ptolemy IV in the third century B.C.E.