More than 50 ancient coffins have been found at a dig near the Egyptian capital, some even dating back to the New Kingdom period, between the 16th and 11th centuries BC.
An incredible find
The discovery was made at the UNESCO world heritage site Saqqara Necropolis, just south of Cairo and included 54 sarcophagi as well as the funerary temple of Queen Neit.
The temple was discovered near the pyramid of Neit’s husband King Teti which dates back roughly 4,500 years. The King was the very first to rule in the Sixth Dynasty between 2323 BC and 2150 BC.
The Tourism and Antiquities Ministry released in a statement that the sarcophagi, found in 40ft burial shafts, were also the first that could be traced back to the New Kingdom period. Archaeologist Zahi Hawass who led the recent mission claims the groundbreaking find could even ‘rewrite the history of Saqqara and the New Kingdom.’
Many of the coffins found were still intact, showing brightly painted human forms. But the sarcophagi wasn’t the only discovery asarchaeologists also uncovered a number of ancient games, statues, masks and a 13-ft (3.9m) papyrus which held the Book of the Dead as well as a number of spells which enabled the user to direct the dead through the underworld.
‘Saqqara has yet to reveal all of its contents’
The Saqqara Necropolis has also been known to be the location of the ancient capital of Memphis, hosting the Giza Pyramids as well as that of Abu Sir, Dahshur and Abu Ruwaysh. And, it seems like the area is far from giving up all its secrets.
Back in November, archaeologists uncovered a further 100 sarcophagi in the largest find of the year. The 2,500 coffins were all intact and belonged to officials of the Late Period and the Ptolemaic period. Antiquities and Tourism Minister Khaled al-Anani revealed at the time that ‘Saqqara has yet to reveal all of its contents.’
After the find, researchers pried open one of the ancient tombs to uncover a well-preserved mummy. They then proceeded to carry out a number of x-rays and scans in order to correctly deduce how the bodies had been so well preserved for so long.
An effort to restore tourism
Archaeological finds have been promoted to international media recently in order to help restore tourism to Egypt. Due to the coronavirus, the numbers of tourists in the country fell from 13.1 million in 2019 to just 3.5 million in 2020.
Later this year authorities are also hoping to inaugurate the Grand Egyptian Museum, a new museum which hopes to celebrate and display ancient finds in order to attract tourists back to the Giza Plateau.