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Wednesday, September 16, 2020
New Discovery, Saqqara "5": Egypt announced the discovery of 13 completely sealed coffins dating back more than 2,500 years.
The Egyptian Ministry of
Tourism and Antiquities announced Sept. 7 the discovery of 13 completely sealed
coffins dating back more than 2,500 years in a deep burial shaft in the ancient
Saqqara region of the Giza governorate, south of Cairo.
According to Minister of
Tourism and Antiquities Khaled al-Anani, the burial shaft is about 11 meters
(36 feet) deep. The shaft contained wooden coffins with paint still intact and
stacked on top of each other. Anani posted video footage from the
archaeological discovery site on his Instagram account, with a caption that
read, “An indescribable feeling when you witness a new archeological discovery.
Stay tuned for the announcement of a new discovery in Saqqara. Thank you to my
colleagues in the ministry.”
According to the ministry's
statement published on its Facebook page, a preliminary study showed that the
coffins are completely sealed and have not been opened since they were buried.
It is likely that more coffins will be discovered in the niches near the shaft,
it added. One of these niches was opened and wooden coffins and archaeological
pieces were also found.
Al-Monitor spoke to Mostafa
Waziry, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities who is
currently leading the Egyptian archaeological mission in Saqqara. He said,
“Saqqara is a promising region. It is one of the most important archaeological
regions that still has unrevealed secrets. More work and more archaeological
excavations are required to uncover more of its secrets and treasures. Work is
underway to define the identity and titles of the occupiers of these 13
coffins, which were found after 2,500 years.”
He explained that a team of
Egyptian restoration workers began restoring the 13 archaeological coffins,
adding that archaeological excavations are continuing in the region, and that
indications are promising and usher in more new discoveries.
Waziri noted that this new
discovery is not the first in the archaeological region of Saqqara, as
archaeological discoveries have remarkably increased during the past years.
“This has resulted in many international archaeological missions working in this
region to race against time trying to explore hidden treasures,” he added.
He said the increase in the
number of archaeological discoveries recently is due to the resumption of
foreign archaeological missions after a hiatus of a number of years. “There are
currently 300 archaeological missions from 25 countries, including some that
are operating for the first time in Egypt such as the joint Egyptian-Chinese
archaeological mission. Add to this the increase in the number of Egyptian
archaeological missions, which for the first time in the history of Egypt
reached about 50 missions working in various archaeological sites across the
Waziri praised these Egyptian
missions made up of prominent workers, technicians and archaeologists, and
hailed their work to reveal the ancient Egyptian civilization to the world.
The Egyptian antiquities missions resumed excavation works in
August, after they were suspended in April due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While taking into account preventive measures, the missions
are now operating in four regions, namely Tuna El-Gabal in Minya, the Saqqara
antiquities region, the Pyramids in Giza and al-Asasif region, west of Luxor,
according to Waziri.
In September 2019, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities had
announced its approval of the work of about 240 foreign archaeological
missions, including one Spanish and one American mission, in addition to 40
Egyptian archaeological missions, at various sites during the new
The 2019 announcement came at the launch of the winter
excavation season. Although expectations were high that the archaeological
season would be exceptional, the coronavirus outbreak ended the work of all
In recent years, the Saqqara region has witnessed several
important archaeological discoveries. The ministry announced in December 2018
the discovery of a tomb that belongs to Wahtye, a high priest who served during
the reign of King Neferirkare in the Old Kingdom’s Fifth Dynasty. The
4,400-year-old tomb was intact and well preserved with distinguished colors. It
measures roughly 10 meters (33 feet) in length and three meters (10 feet) in
height. The tombs’s walls are decorated with colorful scenes showing the royal
priest alongside his mother, wife and other members of his family. It contains
large colored statues of Wahtye carved in rock.
In July 2018, excavation works in Saqqara carried out by the
Egyptian-German mission of the University of Tubingen uncovered a mummification
workshop with connected burial chambers dating back to the 26th and 27th
dynasties (664-404 B.C.). The announcement was made during the archaeological
survey works in the Cemeteries of the Sawy Age, located south of the Pyramid of
Unas in Saqqara. The mission also found a gilded mummy mask inlaid with semiprecious
stones that covered the face of one of the mummies in one of the attached
The Egyptian archaeological mission also found in April 2019 a
tomb in Saqqara for a person named Khuwy who was one of the nobles living in
the era of the Fifth Dynasty in the Old Kingdom. The mission uncovered this
tomb while documenting the collection of pyramids that belong to King Djedkare
Isesi, a ruler of the Fifth Dynasty.
At the end of last year, the ministry unveiled a huge cache of
ancient artifacts and mummified animals in Saqqara. The discovery consisted of
a tomb with a number of mummified cats and a statute of a big cat. Crocodiles,
cobras and scarab beetles are among the other mummified creatures found at the
site, along with statues of other animals and birds. The discovery of the
cache, which dates back to the seventh century B.C., includes wooden boxes
decorated with hieroglyphics.