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Aswan’s Fatimid Cemetery, comprising tombs dating from the seventh to the 12th century A.D., was re-opened to the public after an eight-year renovation, according to the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry.

The Fatimid Cemetery in Aswan [Credit: Olaf Tausch/WikiCommons]

Present at the inauguration ceremony were Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty and Germany’s Ambassador to Egypt Hansjorg Haber. A team of archaeologists from the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) has been tasked with the renovation and rehabilitation of the site since 2006.

“The cemetery originally comprised 80 tombs, out of which 30 tombs still exist, while the rest have been lost due to urban expansion and the fragile materials -mud brick- used in constructing the tombs,” said Damaty.

The restoration project, carried out by the DAI archaeologists, included the restoration of six Fatimid tombs along with setting up a visitor’s path with signboards to guide tourists to explore the area smoothly, Damaty added.

During the past few months, the Antiquities Ministry announced the opening of several archaeological sites to the public in order to promote Egypt’s tourism sector, which has been witnessing an unprecedented setback amid the political turmoil that followed the 2011 January 25 Revolution.

“The Islamic necropolis in Aswan was originally built on an area of 1 square kilometer. Its northern part features four mausolea and several box-shaped tombs while the central part contains some mausoleums surrounded by numerous modest tombs. The southern part contains over 20 well-preserved mausoleums and groups of fenced-in modest tombs,” Islamic history professor Fathy Khourshid told The Cairo Post Sunday.

The site is located nearby an ancient Egyptian granite quarry where an unfinished obelisk dating back to the reign of Queen Hatshepsut (1479 B.C.–1458 B.C.) was found, said Khourshid.

“This explains the rose granite blocks used in the building of some tombs at the Islamic necropolis,” he added.

According to Khourshid, the earliest tombstone in the area bears a name of a deceased person who was buried in 686 A.D., shortly after the Arab Conquest to Egypt while the last ancient tomb in the area bears a name of a someone buried toward the end of the 12th century, a few years before the fall of the Fatimid Caliphate.

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