Archaeologists uncover coffins at ancient Egyptian burial site

Archaeologists uncover coffins at ancient Egyptian burial site
Egyptian antiquities worker brushes a coffin inside the recently discovered burial site in Minya, Egypt February 24, 2018. (REUTERS)
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Updated 07 September 2020

Archaeologists uncover coffins at ancient Egyptian burial site

Archaeologists uncover coffins at ancient Egyptian burial site
  • Excavation work is continuing to unearth more coffins and hopefully identity the human bodies inside them

CAIRO: Archaeologists in Egypt have uncovered an ancient burial site hidden away near the Giza Pyramids for more than 2,500 years.

The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said that at least 13 caskets had been discovered in the Saqqara area in a burial well about 11 meters deep.

The sealed well was found to contain a number of closed wooden coffins stacked on top of each other and still maintaining some of their original colors.

Khaled Al-Anani, Egypt’s minister of antiquities, inspected the well for himself prior to announcing the find at a press conference held in the Saqqara archaeological zone.

He thanked site workers for operating in difficult conditions while having to adhere to precautionary measures aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

Initial studies indicated that the coffins had not been opened since being buried in the well more than 2,500 years ago and more are expected to be found in chamber wall recesses, one of which has already been opened.

Excavation work is continuing to unearth more coffins and hopefully identity the human bodies inside them.

The ministry has launched an online social media campaign to promote the find and monitor its progress. Archaeological digs, which have been taking place in the area for years, have also discovered other coffins dubbed by the ministry as Al-Asasif cache.

Archaeology expert, Lotfi Al-Wazir, said that the Saqqara area was no less important than the pyramids, because of its great treasures, and with Egyptian government help could be turned into a major tourist attraction.

Ahmed Kamal, a specialist in pharaonic antiquities, said that the Saqqara cemetery was one of the most important archaeological areas in Egypt housing tombs with walls covered in magnificent inscriptions. There were also pyramids, temples, and cemeteries of the Serapeum.

He pointed out that the Saqqara cemetery was the only one in Egypt that included tombs from the beginning of Egyptian history to its end, while also including many monuments from the Greek and Roman eras. Saqqara was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

In April, the Egyptian government announced the discovery of a sacred animal and bird cemetery in Saqqara.

One of the most important finds was the colorful Tomb of Wahty and archaeologists also unearthed many artefacts, including 365 ushabti statues, some inscribed with hieroglyphics, a small wooden obelisk, a wooden statue of the god Ptah, and three canopic pottery jars.