Finding and preserving objects and people from our past is important so we can study how they lived and let future generations know where they come from. That is why the discovery of more Egyptian sarcophagi and their occupant that were last touched during burial has got the attention of the entire world.
Untouched sarcophagi have become increasingly rare in Egypt as tombs and pyramids in the country have a long history of being plundered. Let’s find out more about these coffins.
How many sarcophagi were found?
In the Egyptian city of Saqqara, archaeologists have found another large number of sarcophagi that haven’t been opened, adding to the 59 that were found recently. The total number of the most recently found coffins is not known yet because full details on the find haven’t been released yet.
When questioned about the sarcophagi, the Egyptian authorities said that even though they don’t have a precise number at the moment, the archaeologists found a large number of coffins. However, on Instagram, Khaled El-Enany, who is Egypt’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, claimed that dozens of sarcophagi were found and that they weren’t opened since ancient times.
Where were they stored?
The newly found set of sarcophagi had coffins that are made of wood and were stored in three burial shafts that have just been explored. The sarcophagi and the burial shafts are believed to have been constructed at a date that took place more than 2,500 years ago.
According to a government press release, gilded and colored statues were also found stored with the coffins in the tombs as officials from the Egyptian government were present. Besides Khaled El-Enany, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mustafa Waziri and Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly were there to inspect the discoveries.
Land of the dead
The announcement of the discovery in Saqqara’s sarcophagi is the newest in a long line of discoveries that have been made in this region. The city of Saqqara, which is about 20 miles to Cairo’s south, is now thought to have served as a large burial ground in ancient Egypt.
Archaeologists think that the vast burial site that was in Saqqara must have most likely been used for this purpose by the former royal capital of Memphis. One of the burial structures that are found in Saqqara includes the Djoser pyramid, which is the oldest in Egypt and estimated to be 4,700-years-old.
Other discoveries made in 2020
Earlier this month, after around 30 unopened sarcophagi were confirmed to be found in September, that number increased almost twofold after more digging was done in the area. The amazing part about the sarcophagi that were found this year is that many of them still had their original paintwork intact after thousands of years.
The Saqqara ancient burial site has produced interesting findings like coffins that are made out of limestone and wood (Egyptian sarcophagi are usually made out of stone). A large cemetery that was designated only for cats was also found in Saqqara and a bronze statue that was used in the worship of the god Nefertam.
Who was in Saqqara’s tombs?
According to Egyptian authorities, even though they don’t know who the newly discovered coffins contain, they most likely have the remains of priests and important statesmen. The fact that supports their claim is that ordinary ancient Egyptians couldn’t afford sarcophagi and were usually just wrapped in cloth before burial with a few everyday items.
Another fact that points towards Saqqara being a burial site for powerful ancient Egyptians is that archeologists found the 4,400-year-old Tomb of Wahtye in 2018. Wahtye was a high-ranking official and priest who served King Neferirkare Kakai and his tomb still had colored images of his family.
When will we see the new sarcophagi?
According to Khaled El-Enany, all the recently found sarcophagi will get displayed at the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) that was completed earlier this year. The GEM was supposed to open to the public this year but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s now scheduled to open in 2021.
This new collection of sarcophagi and mummies overlooks the Great Pyramid of Giza and is the biggest museum in the world dedicated to a single civilization. Khaled El-Enany also said that King Tutankhamun’s entire collection of camels will be displayed alongside the new findings in the museum.
There is a lot that we can learn from how ancient Egyptians did things and we’re glad that we have access to a lot of artifacts. The fact that we keep on finding out more of them is even more welcome as it helps us see what society was like in the Egypt of old.
What’s better is that we can now rest assured that these new discoveries in Egyptian history and archaeology are in safe hands and we’ll get to view them soon.