Egypt to announce major archaeological discovery in Saqqara

An Egyptian archaelogical laborer is seen walking near deities in a newly discovered tomb at Saqqara necropolis, on Saturday. (AFP)
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Updated 06 September 2020

Egypt to announce major archaeological discovery in Saqqara

  • None of the coffins are thought to belong to important historical figures

CAIRO: Egypt is preparing to announce its largest archaeological discovery in recent memory, which includes wooden and gold coffins, with much of their original colour preserved.

Sources at the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said that the Supreme Council of Antiquities working in the Saqqara archaeological area discovered a new major archaeological cache.

The discovery includes human and animal burials, a group of shabti statues and statues of the gods Isis, Nephthys and Horus, in addition to masks and canopic vessels that belong to the late age.

Sources told local websites that about 50 coffins had been discovered so far, but that number is expected to double during the excavations.

None of the coffins are thought to belong to important historical figures, and work continues on identifying who was buried in the coffins.

The sources said that the  discovery would be announced during the next few days.

The archaeological area of Saqqara, an ancient burial ground in the governorate of Giza, has witnessed many archaeological discoveries in recent years. The most important of these was the discovery of the Tomb of Wahty and the sacred cache of animals and birds, in which a large number of animal mummies were found.

Sources revealed to Al-Watan, the local newspaper, that the discovery of the animal cemetery, which began in April 2018, continued till April 2020. It was on World Heritage Day, April 18 this year that a well measuring about 120 x 90 cm and a depth of about 11 meters was discovered.

Towards the end of 2019 the Egyptian archaeological mission working in the region discovered a cache of mummies of animals and sacred birds, including five mummies of large cats, which preliminary studies suggested could be small lions.

International news agencies circulated the discovery, saying that the  animals resembled the Sphinx.


Israel returns to virus lockdown as cases mount

Updated 7 min 11 sec ago

Israel returns to virus lockdown as cases mount

  • The three-week lockdownwill include the closure of many businesses, strict limits on public gatherings
  • Israel has reported a total of more than 175,000 cases since the outbreak began, including at least 1,169 deaths

JERUSALEM: Israel is set to go back into a full lockdown later Friday to try to contain a coronavirus outbreak that has steadily worsened for months as its government has been plagued by indecision and infighting.
The three-week lockdown beginning at 2 p.m. (1100 GMT) will include the closure of many businesses, strict limits on public gatherings, and will largely confine people to within a kilometer (0.6 miles) of their homes. The closures coincide with the Jewish High Holidays, when people typically visit their families and gather for large prayer services.
In an address late Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that even stricter measures may be needed to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. There are currently more than 46,000 active cases, with at least 577 hospitalized in serious condition.
“It could be that we will have no choice but to make the directives more stringent,” Netanyahu said. “I will not impose a lockdown on the citizens of Israel for no reason, and I will not hesitate to add further restrictions if it is necessary.”
Israel has reported a total of more than 175,000 cases since the outbreak began, including at least 1,169 deaths. It is now reporting around 5,000 new cases a day, one of the highest per capita infection rates in the world.
Israel was among the first countries to impose sweeping lockdowns this spring, sealing its borders and forcing most businesses to close. That succeeded in bringing the number of new cases to only a few dozen per day in May.
But then the economy abruptly reopened, and a new government was sworn in that was paralyzed by infighting. In recent months authorities have announced various restrictions only to see them ignored or reversed even as new cases soared to record levels.
The occupied West Bank has followed a similar trajectory, with a spring lockdown largely containing its outbreak followed by a rise of cases that forced the Palestinian Authority to impose a 10-day lockdown in July. The PA has reported more than 30,000 cases in the West Bank and around 240 deaths.
The Gaza Strip, which has been under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade since the Islamic militant group Hamas seized power from rival Palestinian forces in 2007, was initially insulated from the pandemic. But authorities detected community spread last month, and there are now more than 1,700 active cases in the impoverished territory of 2 million, straining its already fragile health system. At least 16 people have died.
In Israel, the government has come under withering criticism for its response to the virus and the economic crisis triggered by the earlier lockdown. Netanyahu, who is also on trial for corruption, has been the target of weekly protests outside his official residence. Israel’s insular ultra-Orthodox community, which has a high rate of infection, has also been up in arms about the restrictions, especially those targeting religious gatherings.
In Tel Aviv, hundreds of people protested the renewed lockdown on Thursday, including doctors and scientists who said it would be ineffective.
Dr. Amir Shahar, head of an emergency department in the city of Netanya and one of the organizers of the demonstration, said the lockdown is “disastrous” and would do “more harm than good.”