Ancient Egyptian Grave Robbers Looted £700,000 of Gold in Pharaoh’s Tomb Heist – and were Impaled as Punishment
SOURCE: THE SUN
A BOLD heist by a group of Ancient Egyptian grave robbers was thwarted as they made off with gold worth £700,000.
According to 3,000-year-old court documents, eight thieves broke into the tomb of Sobekemsaf II, Pharaoh of the 17th Dynasty, to get their hands on the priceless possessions stored within.
During Channel 5 show “Egypt’s Greatest Treasures”, historian Bettany Hughes revealed that the discovery of the papers shed new light on the secrets of Egypt’s tomb robbers.
Known as the Amherst Papyrus, they date to 1100BC and are part of original court records dealing with tomb robberies under Ramses IX.
In one section, the documents detail the desecration of the tomb of Sobekemsaf II around 1570BC in Thebes, the capital of Ancient Egypt.
The Amherst Papyrus contains the trials and confessions of the men responsible.
Amenpnufer, son of Anhernakhte, a stonemason from the Temple of Amun Re “fell into the habit of robbing the tombs [of noblemen in West Thebes] in company with the stonemason Hapiwer”, according to the documents.
In his trial, Amenpnufer admits to using copper tools to dig a tunnel into the king’s pyramid.
Here they found the burial places of Sobekemsaf II and his queen and pillaged everything they could carry.
“We opened their sarcophagi and their coffins in which they were, and found the noble mummy of this King equipped with a falcon; a large number of amulets and jewels of gold were upon his neck, and his head-piece of gold was upon him,” Amenpnufer confessed.
“The noble mummy of this King was completely bedecked with gold, and his coffins were adorned with gold and silver inside and out and inlaid with all kinds of precious stones.
“We collected the gold on the noble mummy of this god…and we collected all that we found on her (the Queen) likewise; and we set fire to their coffins.”
In total, the thieves made off with gold worth £700,000 in today’s money.
It’s not entirely clear how they were caught, or what happened to them after the trial.
Punishment for pilfering royal graves ranged from torture to execution by impalement.
Much of the treasures of the Ancient Egyptian pharaohs was lost to grave robbers thousands of years ago.
It was a big problem for tomb builders, who were locked in a constant battle to keep prying hands out of their constructions.
Much about the practice was a mystery until the discovery of the Amherst Papyrus, Dr Hughes revealed during her August documentary.
“We know all about this ancient tomb raiding from an amazing source, a 3000-year-old court record,” she said.
“This scroll contains the confession of a tomb robber who’d been caught and reveals the trade secrets of these ancient criminals.
“Gold and silver was often nicked first, obviously because it was the most precious, but also because it was very easy to melt down.
“Then you had perfumes and textiles going, which could command a really high price on the market.
“Finally, you had the big objects like chariots and bits of furniture. Left at first, eventually even they were nicked.”
Grave robberies were such a problem that the Ancient Egyptians went from burying royalty in pyramids to tombs in the Valley of the Kings.
Dr Hughes said: “Sadly, some treasures will never be found. They were all looted across thousands of years by tomb raiders.
“Robbers were a key reason Egyptians began to bury their rulers in remote locations.
“Up until now, pharaohs had been buried in great big pyramids. These were fantastic demonstrations of their might and their power.
“But they were also huge signs saying that treasure was buried there so they were incredibly tempting for robbers and raiders.”
The news follows the dramatic opening last year of a mysterious 2,000-year-old sarcophagus hidden inside a buried tomb in Egypt.
The coffin’s discovery in July 2018 caused a stir in the archaeology community after worried onlookers warned over an ancient curse.
Despite concerns over a jinx, archaeologists broke open the sinister stone coffin and live-streamed the operation for the world to see.
While they didn’t find any banshees or demons inside, they did discover three decomposed mummies submerged in rancid sewer water.
In other archaeology news, a 4,000-year-old tomb unearthed on a Welsh Island may contain the remains of ancient sorcerers.
Ancient Chinese people gave their babies coneheads by ‘moulding their skulls’ to show off how rich they were.
And, from headless vikings to ‘screaming’ mummies, here are some of the most gruesome corpses ever found.
What do you think happened to the grave robbers? Let us know in the comments…