Cairo, Dec 19: Egypt has decided to stop cooperation with an American excavation team working in country's Fayoum Governorate for the past 34 years, refuting its claim of discovering a cemetery with over a million mummified bodies.
The Brigham Young University's team had recently told a British newspaper that it has discovered more than a million mummified bodies in a cemetery in central Egypt, about 96 km south of here, prompting the Ministry of Antiquities to call- off the collaboration yesterday. "What was published by the British newspaper was untrue.
Only cemeteries containing thousands of remains of bones and skeletons were found during the excavation but not mummified bodies," Youssef Khalifa, the head of the Antiquities sector told state-run MENA news agency. He mentioned that the ministry has decided not to renew working with the expedition team for releasing false information.
Khalifa added that the only mummy unearthed in this area was discovered in 1980 and was now on display at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square. Archaeologist Ahmed Abdel Aal said during 34 years of working at the site, the expedition team of the Brigham Young University had only unearthed cemeteries of poor people called "public cemeteries" with no historical importance.
"The public cemeteries only contain bones and skeletons, with no coffins or burial related materials, unlike the traditions of ancient Pharaohs," Abdel Aal said. "The expedition team used to study the remains and then bury them again. There are no mummified bodies in the cemeteries discovered. What was published by the newspaper was an archaeologist's personal predictions which did not happen in reality," he added.
The ministry's decision came a day after remarks by Professor Kerry Muhlestein, the project director of the excavation at the Brigham Young University that were published in a British newspaper.