The mission’s work began with the continuation of excavations on the necropolis started in 1982. The mission examined all of the funerary structures already unearthed by Egyptian archaeologists in the necropolis, which has subsequently been named the Upper Necropolis. Among the structures studied, tomb no. 1 is particularly noteworthy because it was constructed during the Saite period and survives practically intact.
The tomb has a complex layout and is built of well-hewn and arranged blocks of white stone. The tomb’s chambers are covered by barrel vaults. As a family tomb, the structure contains anthromorphic stone sarcophagi that are covered in hieroglyphic inscriptions and were used for the burial of an entire family of high priestly officials, possibly between the seventh and sixth centuries BC. Subsequently, the mission found and excavated other tombs of the Saite period, most notably tombs no. 13 and 14, which reflect similar construction techniques. Tomb no. 14, the largest tomb found to date, was partly destroyed in antiquity, but it was, in all likelihood, expanded in later periods. One of its naves, covered with a barrel vault, probably has the greatest span of any Egyptian Pharaonic architecture known to date. The excavations have unearthed a significant funerary deposit and the hieroglyphic inscriptions identify up to three generations of priestly officials and their families. The Saite-period inscriptions in tomb no. 14 and tomb no. 1 document the existence of the cult of Taweret; give the Pharaonic name of the city, Per-Medjed, which predates Oxyrhynchus; and name the sanctuary itself as Per-Khef.
In the vicinity of the Saite-period tombs, many other tombs from the Greco-Roman period have been unearthed. In general, they are smaller and make use of smaller hewn blocks of stone. Interestingly, however, they imitate the construction techniques of the Saite period, particularly in the use of relatively complex structures and the presence of chambers covered by barrel-vaulting. Although many of the tombs have suffered looting since antiquity, recent findings include significant funerary deposits and a large number of mummies covered with ornately decorated cartonnage. Some tombs have short inscriptions in Greek carved in their walls, while others feature wall paintings or reliefs with mythological and funerary scenes, particularly depictions of the oxyrhynchus fish, also first documented in the city that bears its name.
For many years, scholars were aware of the large number of bronze statuettes depicting the oxyrhynchus fish, and their suspicion was that these came from the city of Oxyrhynchus. It turns out, however, that this suspicion was wrong. As Oxyrhynchus was consecrated to the god Seth, who murdered his brother Osiris, the oxyrhynchus fish was believed to be the Seth animal that devoured the penis of Osiris when Osiris’ body was quartered and thrown into the river. The recent finds of bronze statuettes with a dedication to Taweret, however, have shown that the oxyrhynchus fish, a feminine noun in Classical Egyptian, is actually the sacred animal of the goddess Taweret, the supreme deity of Per-Medjed. Greco-Roman tombs in the Upper Necropolis, the source of these statuettes, have helped to demonstrate this link between the oxyrhynchus fish and the goddess Taweret.
The Greek population of Oxyrhynchus maintained their mother tongue, but adopted Egyptian funerary rites and gods. The most important deity was Serapis, a healing god and the Greek version of the native Egyptian god Osiris-Apis. Presumably, the temple of Serapis, the Serapeum, was located in the centre of the city. Recently, within the archaeological site, the mission has found the remains of a large temple from the Classical period in very poor condition. Excavation continues, but it is highly likely that the structure is the Serapeum. It is anticipated that future campaigns will serve to confirm or disprove this hypothesis.
The inhabitants of Oxyrhynchus converted to Christianity throughout the fourth century AD, but continued to use the site of the Upper Necropolis as a burial grounds. In this vein, the mission has found significant funerary structures built over or re-using Greco-Roman tombs. These structures are made of mud bricks, but they often have important wall paintings and inscriptions in Greek that are Christian in nature and have had to be removed from their support and restored. Some of these tombs were individual, while others were for groups.
Las tumbas y edificios mas destacados de la necrópolis son:
La Tumba 1
La Tumba 14