In today’s city of Aswan, about 800 kilometers south of Cairo, Egypt, Spanish researchers have come up with an impressive discovery, which provides an even more precise view of technological and architectural capacity that had this society between 1845 and 1773 BC in the city of Elephantine.
It is a necropolis located in Qubbet el-Hawa, where about 60 tombs carved into the rock of the hill have been discovered underground, some of which have never been investigated. In addition, the Spanish mission has managed to decipher how and why they were ordered in that way, discovering the passageways, wells and rooms, with the surprise that the minimum distance between the graves is very little, barely 10cm.
This minimum distance greatly surprised the researchers, whose mission is supported by members of the Photogrammetric and Topometric Systems Research group of the University of Jaén (UJA), since demands technology and precision more typical of the 21st century than of nearly 4,000 years ago.
“When they built a tomb they already thought about where the next one would be placed. They were able to foresee the existence of a hole inside the mountain with a very basic technology, which implies a very high architectural knowledge “, points to 20Minutos Alejandro Giménez Serrano, director of the project.
To better understand it, 3D models have been made of three of the most spectacular burial structures in the necropolis. For this, the UJA researchers have used different geomatic techniques, among which terrestrial laser scanning and photogrammetry stand out. The three tombs studied (QH31, QH32 and QH33) are independent and adjacent structures, carved out of the rock, that go dozens of meters into the hill.
Each tomb was studied individually to obtain a specific 3D model, however, the three models could be merged as all the data were referred to the same coordinate system, obtaining a complete model that allows to analyze the spatial behavior of all the tombs together.
“The quality of the products obtained allows take a virtual tour, as well as its use by other researchers, such as architects or archaeologists, for their respective studies, avoiding the need to travel to Aswan “, the researchers highlight.
It couldn’t be a coincidence
At first, the Spanish experts thought that the proximity could be the result of chance, that it was possible that by building the entire structure of corridors and rooms up to 13 meters, the graves had been very close to each other, or perhaps the passage of the years had caused it, but they soon found that not.
“We realized relatively early that they were practically glued to each other, because there was a natural crack that connected them. When we could measure it with the 3D scanner, we saw that it was only 10 centimeters that separated them and that it was done on purpose. They planned the later tomb to avoid it colliding with the current one “, says Giménez.
The complexity of the work is of great magnitude, especially if one takes into account that his way of measuring “was by means of measuring rods”. Thus, “That they have achieved such precision has left us stunned”, maintains the project manager.
Regarding who were those who were buried there, they were almost entirely governors of the southernmost region of Egypt. According to Giménez, “the king, the prime minister and the high officials of the provinces were those who were buried in these monumental tombs that boast an incredible level of perfection “.
Finally, experts believe that architectural knowledge was transmitted “like from father to son”, since these tasks were carried out by a small group of people and they were in a small province. Furthermore, the investigation still has lots of new data to contribute in the coming weeks, as many tombs remain to be opened in that historic necropolis.