Egypt announced on Saturday the discovery of an ancient treasure trove of more than 100 intact sarcophagus dating back more than 2500 years. This is the biggest discovery of the year.
The sealed wooden casket presented on-site in the fanfare belonged to late ancient Egyptian and Ptolemaic officials.
They were found on three burial shafts 12 meters (40 feet) deep at the vast Saqqara Cemetery site south of Cairo.
Archaeologists opened a casket to reveal a mummy wrapped in a burial cover decorated with brightly colored hieroglyphic paintings.
With more than a dozen pyramids, ancient monasteries and animal cemeteries, Saqqara is a vast cemetery site in Memphis, the capital of ancient Egypt, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This enormous discovery was more than a month after archaeologists in the area discovered 59 other well-preserved, well-sealed wooden caskets, also dating back more than 2,500 years.
“Saqqara has not yet revealed all of its contents. It is a treasure,” said Khaledal-Anani, the Minister of Ancient Tourism, at the unveiling ceremony.
“Excavation is still underway. Each time you empty the sarcophagus burial shaft, you will find an entrance to another sarcophagus.”
He said more than 40 statues of ancient gods and funeral masks were also found.
According to Mostafa Wajiri, General Secretary of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, two other wooden statues were found in the tombs of ancient judges of the Sixth Dynasty.
The sarcophagus will be distributed to several museums in Egypt, including the Grand Egyptian Museum, which has not yet opened on the Giza Plateau.
The minister attributed the surge in discoveries in Saqqara to the recent large-scale archaeological work.
Another finding in the vast necropolis is expected to be announced within a few weeks, Anani added.
Archaeologists also want to quickly find an ancient workshop for making wooden caskets for mummies, Wajiri said.
Egypt wants archaeological discoveries to spur tourism. The tourism industry has been shocked many times, from the 2011 riots to today’s coronavirus pandemic.
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