El Minya, or the bride of Upper Egypt, as many Egyptians prefer to call it, has played a significant role in the Egyptian history. As back as the predynastic period, El Minya was important province as it was the gate that leads from Upper Egypt to Lower Egypt.
This is why today El Minya has some of the important historical sites in Egypt. This includes El Ashmonien,Tell El Amarna , the once marvelous city of Akhenaten, and the ancient necropolises of Beni Hassan and Tuna El Gabal . Too bad only a few number of tourists who visit Egypt pays El Minya a visit.
Tuna El Gabal has a wonderful blend of the ancient Egyptian Pharaonic mortuary style with the Greco Roman elements making this historical site one of the interesting monuments in Egypt.
The ancient city of Hermopolis is located on the West Bank of the River Nile near the small town of El Ashmonien located about 11 kilometers to the North West of the center of the city of El Minya.
The ancient necropolis of Tuna El Gabal is located around 20 kilometers to the North of the center of the city of El Minya. Tuna El Gabal is situated only 12 kilometers away from the town of Malawi in El Minya governorate.
El Minya is situated around 250 kilometers to the South of Cairo, 400 kilometers to the North of Luxor, 600 kilometers to the north of Aswan, and only 140 kilometers to the South East of El Fayoum.
Tuna El Gabal was mainly the burial site of the ancient city of Hermopolis, or El Ashmonien as it is called today as it turned into an important archeological site that is visited by many tourists who travel to Egypt.
Tuna El Gabal, and Hermopolis were the center of the worship of the god Thoth, the god of wisdom in ancient Egypt, who was idolized as early as the predynastic period in Egypt. It was used as the necropolis of the fifteenth province in Egypt.
Tuna El Gabal was titled “Ta Uno” in the Pharaonic period. This word meant the province of the rabbit. In fact there were two cities, one to the North and the other to the South, who held the same name.
During the Greco-Roman period in Egypt Tuna El Gabal was called Tawnis. During this period, the necropolis of Tuna El Gabal was enlarged and many Roman tombs and establishments were added to the burial site.
Tuna El Gabal was then called Touni that was then modified in the early Islamic period in Egypt to become Tuna. Afterwards, the name Gabal, or mountain was added to refer to the location of the necropolis in the desert of El .
A number of tourists who enjoy their vacations in Egypt visit Tuna El Gabal today in a one-day trip to El Minya to explore other monuments as well like Tell El Amarna and the tombs of Beni Hassan.
The most important tomb in Tuna El Gabal is that of Petosiris, one of the most loyal priests of the god Thoth. This tomb, in its outlines seem as if it was a small ancient Egyptian temple.
This tomb is characterized by some sections that are examples of the blend of the Pharaonic and the Roman styles of architecture. While some other sections of the tomb are purely ancient Egyptian or purely Roman in the outlines, decorations, and design.
The tomb of Petosirisis featured with some remarkable scenes of agriculture, harvest, taking care of animals and birds, and the famous scene of the cow giving birth. This is besides some scenes of ancient Egyptian crafts and various religious scenes.
The façade of the tomb of Petosiris has an amazing portrait of the borders of the ancient city of Akhenaten. This portray shows Akhenaton, his wife queen Nefertari, and their sons and daughters presenting the offerings to the sun god, Aten.
Another remarkable tomb in Tuna El Gabal is that of Isadora. This beautiful young woman used to live in Egypt during the 2nd century AD. She was a Greek woman who fell in love with an Egyptian army officer.
However, her father, the governor of the province at the time prevented her from marrying him and she committed suicide in one of the most romantic love stories of ancient Egypt. Some other stories claim that we died while crossing the river Nile to meet her lover.
Her father, after her death, established this tomb for her with a poem he wrote himself to commiserateher sad death. The mummy of Isadora is still present in her tomb until today.
The necropolis of Tuna El Gabal also has some catacombs that were dug under the ground to host the dead bodies of many animals and birds that presented the god Thoth. This includes baboons and birds that were mummified and kept inside wooden or rock cut coffins.
Another remarkable item in Tuna El Gabal is the Roman water cistern that was constructed under the ground using red bricks. The cistern has a circular shape and it goes to more than 40 meters deep under the ground.
Exploring historical sites like Tuna El Gabal is highly recommended for tourists who spend their holidays in Egypt and who are fond of the ancient Egyptian architecture, art, and history.
Many travel companies would organize a full day trip to all the monuments located in El Minya from Cairo that would include all the transportation, meals, and visits.