Archaeology Team Unearths Clues That Could Lead Them to . . .the Lost City of the Dead

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Byline: Claire Tolley

A DISCOVERY by Merseyside archaeologists has sparked hopes of finding an Egyptian city hidden for more than 4,000 years.

Dr Mark Collier and his team have returned from a study trip where they had hoped to update research on a southern Egyptian warlord's grave.

But when they began their investigations 20 miles south of Luxor, they unearthed a vast necropolis which could hold clues to the whereabouts of a lost city.

The team made the discovery in the village of Moalla two weeks ago after starting to examine inscriptions on a tomb belonging to the warlord Ankhtify.

Ankhtify ruled over much of Southern Egypt in 2,100 BC with his headquarters in the city of Hefat, which has remained hidden ever since.

French archeologists discovered his grave in the 1920s but rock falls over the centuries had covered much of the tomb with rubble and they did not spot signs pointing to a much larger ``city of the dead'' on the site.

It was the first excavation which Dr Collier, a lecturer at the University of Liverpool, has led.

He said: ``We thought it would be a nice relatively small project looking at producing a modern variation and plan of the inscriptions on the tomb.

``It has been transformed into what will be a radical new publication that will describe the tomb in its full setting.

``In his tomb Ankhtify mentions the city he rules from. It was normal for Egyptian tombs to be built near a city. Hefat has never been identified archeologically. People think they know roughly where it is but we don't even know which side of the Nile it is on.

``We would like to expand our work by drill coring to try and identify where the city is.

``It has turned out to be one of the largest tombs built at that time and if you assess Ankhtify in relation to his peers of the time then point-topoint he stands shoulder-toshoulder with anybody else.''

Ankhtify was one of a group of warlords who governed Egypt in the centuries after royal rule collapsed around 2,500 BC.

Pyramid burials were traditionally the preserve of kings but the inscriptions show how significant Ankhtify believed his rule to be.

Dr Collier, 40, who was born in Leigh, near Wigan, said: ``His tomb says `I am the beginning of men and the end of men, for no one like me will come again, nor could there be such a one; no one like me will be born again, nor could he be.' ``It's a clear statement of his power and importance. He was the most powerful warlord in the very south of Egypt at this time. …