Khaled el-Anany, Egypt‘s tourism and antiquities minister, announced on Saturday a dramatic discovery in which archaeologists have unearthed dozens of ancient coffins. They were found in Saqqara, a vast necropolis south of Cairo and a Unesco World Heritage Site.
It has been reported that at least 59 sealed and heavily ornated sarcophagi containing mummies were found that had been buried in three wells more than 2,600 years ago. Since the find of the first 13 coffins was announced almost three weeks ago, more have been discovered in shafts at depths of up to 12 meters (40 feet).
“I have witnessed the opening of one of the coffins… The mummy seems as if it was mummified yesterday,” al-Anani said. The archaeological team revealed that the mummified remains were wrapped in burial cloth that bore hieroglyphic inscriptions in bright colors. According to Al-Anani, the coffins date back to the Late Period of ancient Egypt, from about the sixth or seventh century BC.
Moreover, minister Al-Anani also announced that at the site, near the 4,700-year-old pyramid of Djoser, an unknown number of additional coffins may still lie buried there.
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نأخذكم اليوم في رحلة استثنائية، الى المكان الذي تم الكشف فيه عن ٥٩ تابوتًا اثريا مغلقا بمنطقة سقارة. نقدمه للعالم ليكتشفه معنا! الكشف الكبير الذي تم الإعلان عنه اليوم. Today, we’re taking you on an exceptional trip, an exciting experience where we discovered 59 sealed coffins in Saqqara. We invite you to explore with us an 11 meters deep shaft! A big discovery that was announced today.
For those interested in viewing this archaeological breakthrough, all the coffins will be taken to the soon-to-be-opened Grand Egyptian Museum on the Giza Plateau. They will be placed opposite a hall hosting 32 other sealed sarcophagi for priests from the 22nd dynasty, which were found last year in the southern city of Luxor. The opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum, which has been delayed several times, is planned for 2021. The museum will host thousands of artifacts, spanning multiple eras of Egypt’s history, from the pre-dynastic to the Greco-Roman period.
Egypt anticipates that an outbreak of archaeological finds in recent years and the novel museum will improve its vital tourism sector, which has experienced several shocks since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, most recently the coronavirus pandemic.