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The Oxyrhynchus excavations in Egypt mark 30th anniversary with new discoveries

The UCAM's Cristóbal Gabarrón International Chair of the Arts inaugurated its 5th Conference on Art and Architecture, with the participation of, among others, the current coordinators of the excavation and the expert Hassan Amer, professor at Cairo University, today at the Los Jerónimos Campus.

Two hundred years have passed since François Champollion deciphered the Rosetta Stone

and the magic hidden in Egypt began to be truly discovered, thus opening the way for

universities to study it. It is now the 30th anniversary of the Spanish teams’ excavations of

Oxyrhynchus (Egypt)
, the main theme of the 5th Conference on Art and Architecture organised

by the Cristóbal Gabarrón International Chair of the Arts at UCAM, which began this morning at

the Los Jerónimos Campus and will continue tomorrow, Friday. The inauguration was attended

by Estrella Núñez, UCAM Vice-Rector of Research; Cris Gabarrón, President of the Fundación

; and Francisco José Sánchez, Vice-Dean of the Bachelors Degree in Principles of


Congress of art and architecture

The UCAM Vice-Rector of Research stated the institution's interest in these forums for debate

to promote interaction between researchers, students and society’, and highlighted the qualities

of architecture and art, ‘as a historical social document, which provides information on the way

of life, culture and the evolution of different civilisations’.

This type of event highlights the academic and practical side of art and architecture, according

to Cris Gabarrón, who recalled that the Conference has also organised the exhibition "Oxyrhynchus, the fish that conquered the sands".

It is located in the Museo Cristóbal Gabarrón

(Mula), where visitors can see the secrets of the Egyptian culture discovered there first hand.

From Saite culture to Christianism

Oxyrhynchus covers a very broad chronology within history, from the Saite period of 664 BC to

the seventh century, where many cultures coexisted and overlapped and understood each

other: Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, until the arrival of Christians. The current co-directors of the

archaeological excavation of Oxyrhynchus (El-Bahnasa), Esther Pons and Maite Mascort,

stressed how, as they excavate and make discoveries, the change of civilisations is becoming

clearer and clearer: ‘In the Saite and Greco-Roman periods, there were large, stone structures

with vaulted ceilings, with many rooms and funerary chambers, with sarcophagi inside

containing the mummified individual and with important grave goods that accompanied the

deceased. Then, during the Christian period, there was the great basilica with the columns, the

crypt, the decoration of the walls and the crosses’. They also recalled that last year, after 30

years of work there, an intact tomb was discovered; a great find
. The current challenge is to

continue excavating and discovering more tombs, as the current mission is focused on the


The price of plunder

‘The percentage of the city that has been plundered remains unknown, but it is huge. It is a pity

that the richness of this culture has been affected by this,’ said Hassan Amer, professor at Cairo

University, who noted that, in the 200-kilometre area, ‘there are still many things buried and

’. ‘I hope that future generations will understand that to preserve the legacy of a

culture we must respect it,’ he added.

On the other hand, Josep Padró, director of the Oxyrhynchus archaeological mission between

1992-2019, pointed out that the excavations were abandoned for 50 years, noting that, after the

passage of the English, Italians, and staff from the Museum of Alexandria, ‘they stopped around

the 1930s, and from then on the sacking began, enriching the antiquities market’