Showing posts with label Egyptian archaeological. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Egyptian archaeological. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

New Discovery, Sakkara "4": ‘Death has become a big business.’ Elaborate coffins illuminate hidden history of ancient Egypt.

Last week, Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities announced a spectacular find. More than 100 elaborately decorated wooden coffins, many containing intact human mummies, were unearthed at the Saqqara necropolis, a burial complex covering 160 square kilometers and located 20 kilometers south of Cairo. 
The most recent finds date back roughly 2500 years, to a time archaeologists call Egypt’s late period.
Unlike earlier eras in Egyptian history, when prominent people were laid to rest individually in multichambered tombs or inside massive, eye-catching pyramids, Egyptian archaeologists found these coffins stacked two and three deep at the bottom of deep underground shafts.
The artifacts illuminate a lesser known era in Egypt’s history: one separated from the reigns of more familiar pharaohs like Tutankhamun and Ramesses II by more than 700 years of turmoil, civil war, and decline.
Science spoke to University of Tübingen archaeologist Ramadan Hussein, who has excavated extensively at Saqqara but was not part of the latest dig, about what the new finds reveal about the ancient Egyptians. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Q: Why are there so many coffins at this site?

A: By 650 B.C., Egypt was starting to get back on its feet and become a power in the Mediterranean again. At some point the center of power moves back to Memphis, on the other side of the Nile and also about 20 kilometers south of Cairo. Saqqara once more becomes the main cemetery for a thriving, wealthy city full of temples. All those priests and government officials were high-income individuals; that explains why we have so many beautiful coffins from the late period. The richness of the city at the time is reflected in the richness of the burials.

Meanwhile, there’s an intellectual movement to look back at Egyptian history and revive its traditions. They even call it a renaissance at the time: They’re reviving art, literary traditions, and religious practices from 1000 years earlier. That shows up in the decorations and burial practices. You can see a nostalgia for what was good in Egyptian history in the cemeteries at Saqqara, like inscriptions on the coffins replicating religious texts from the walls of nearby pyramids.

Q: Yet Egypt has changed. What do the burials tell you about what was going on at the time?

A: In the late period, Egypt has started becoming an international power again, and as a result it’s becoming a real mosaic of ethnicities: There are Phoenicians and Greeks and Libyans, and you can see their influence in the grave goods, from a gilded silver mask made from imported metal we discovered in 2018 to pottery and precious oils. Trade connections with Greece are intensifying. Many of the coffins at Saqqara are made from expensive wood brought in from southern Europe and elsewhere around the Mediterranean.

Q: But there are no new pyramids.

A: No, but death has become a big business. Discoveries like this are important for what they tell us about how you administer a cemetery and run the business of death. Priests and undertakers at Saqqara are selling everything from mummification services to burial plots. The ideology of death had shifted. People weren’t focused on the size of their tomb, they were happy to be buried in a sacred precinct and a nice coffin.

For example, a lot of these coffins come from shafts cut into older buildings: Apparently the best way to sell new cemetery plots was to put them close to places considered ancient and therefore sacred. Undertakers would just stack as many coffins as they could in tunnels at the bottom of each shaft—they promised customers it would be in a sacred space, not that it would be private.

Q: Is there more to come?

A: Will we see another find like this? Definitely. There are more of these shafts we haven’t found yet. But analyzing the texts and scenes on the Saqqara coffins alone is going to give us work for the next 50 years.

Source:sciencemag

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

New Discovery, Saqqara "3": Mummy count continues to grow at ancient Egypt burial site.

The number of mummy-filled coffins found in a series of burial shafts at Saqqara in Egypt keeps growing, archaeologists with the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities reported.

At the start of September, the team had found 13 coffins with mummies inside. By the beginning of October, that number had risen to 59, and now the number is over 100, archaeologists reported in a statement issued Saturday (Nov. 14).

People are "asking how many coffins did we find. The answer is I don't know yet," said Mustafa Waziri, the secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, in a video released by the ministry and the Smithsonian Channel, which is filming the excavations.

Inside the burial shafts, the team also found 40 statues depicting the deity "Ptah-Soker," the ministry said. This deity is an amalgamation of "Ptah," who was the god of Memphis, and "Soker," who was the god of Saqqara. Archaeologists also found 20 wooden boxes showing depictions of Horus — an Egyptian sky god with a falcon head. Additionally, two wooden statues are inscribed with the name "Phnomus," though the researchers are still trying to figure out who that person was in antiquity.

Numerous shabti figurines were also found. Ancient Egyptians believed that shabtis acted as servants for the deceased in the afterlife.

The various finds date back between roughly 712 B.C. and 30 B.C., according to the ministry statement. During this time period, ancient Egypt was occupied and controlled by foreign groups such as the Assyrians, Persians and Greeks. 

At times, Egypt would regain its independence only to lose it to another foreign power. Excavations continue at the site, and the archaeologists expect to find more coffins filled with mummies and other artifacts, said Khaled El-Enany, Egypt's antiquities minister.

The Smithsonian Channel is filming a documentary called "Tomb Hunters" and released a statement claiming that some of the artifacts date back 4,500 years — to around the time when the Giza Pyramids were being built. The antiquities ministry statement has not confirmed this claim.

Source:livescience

Monday, November 16, 2020

New Discovery, Sakkara "2":Egypt unveils 2,500-year-old ancient coffins, statues found in Saqqara.

Egyptian antiquities officials on Saturday announced the discovery of at least 100 ancient coffins, some with mummies inside, and around 40 gilded statues in a vast Pharaonic necropolis south of Cairo.
Colourful, sealed sarcophagi and statues that were buried more than 2,500 years ago were displayed in a makeshift exhibit at the feet of the famed Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara.
Archaeologists opened a coffin with a well-preserved mummy wrapped in cloth inside. They also carried out X‐raying visualising the structures of the ancient mummy, showing how the body had been preserved.
Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Anany told a news conference that the discovered items date back to the Ptolemaic dynasty that ruled Egypt for some 300 years – from around 320 B.C. to about 30 B.C, and the Late Period (664-332 B.C.).

He said they would move the artefacts to at least three Cairo museums including the Grand Egyptian Museum that Egypt is building near the famed Giza Pyramids. He said they would announce another discovery at the Saqqara necropolis later this year.
The Saqqara site is part of the necropolis at Egypt’s ancient capital of Memphis that includes the famed Giza Pyramids, as well as smaller pyramids at Abu Sir, Dahshur and Abu Ruwaysh. The ruins of Memphis were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1970s.
Egypt frequently touts its archaeological discoveries in hopes of spurring a vital tourism industry that has been reeling from the political turmoil following the 2011 popular uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak. The sector was also dealt a further blow this year by the coronavirus pandemic.

Source:stuff

Sunday, November 15, 2020

New Discovery, Sakkara "1": Egypt announces the biggest archaeological discovery in 2020 at Saqqara Necropolis.

A collection of 100 intact 26th Dynasty coffins were unearthed in Egypt's Saqqara Necropolis, in addition to golden funerary masks and a collection of 40 wooden statues of Saqqara goddess Ptah Soker, some of which are gilded.

Excavations conducted by the Egyptian archaeological mission working in the Saqqara Necropolis resulted in the discovery of three 12- metre deep shafts, closed for more than 2,500 years, containing 100 intact, sealed and painted anthropoid coffins.

During the announcement, a CT- scan was conducted on a mummy in one of the coffins. It was revealed that the deceased died in his 40s, was 175 cm tall, healthy, and did not suffer any fatal diseases.

Bassem Gehad, who conducted the scan, said the deceased was perfectly mummified with his arms crossed on his chest, in a position known in ancient Egypt as the Osiris shape.

“It is a great discovery in 2020, but it is not the last one,” said khaled El-Enany, the minister of tourism and antiquities.

"We have discovered only one per cent of the antiquities buried in the Saqqara Necropolis," he added, pointing out that many other discoveries will follow.

El-Enany stated a discovery made by renowned Egyptologist Zahi Hawass will be announced soon in Saqqara. 

He explained the coffins will distributed among the Cairo Museum in Tahrir, the Grand Egyptian Museum, and the National Museum of Egyptian civilization.

The Egyptian archaeological mission made throughout the past years a number of important discoveries in Saqqara, the last of which was in October when the mission unearthed 59 painted coffins with mummies in a good condition of top officials and priests from the 26th Dynasty. 

A short film released by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities to coincide with the discovery described the Saqqara Necropolis as a “sacred place where the rich and powerful wanted to be buried."

The video showed many statues of animals, figurines, as well as intact and sealed coffins.

“That is what we were expecting; the coffins were well-sealed, no chemical reaction, no air inside, nothing, that is why it is all in perfect condition of preservation,” the secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mostafa Waziry, explained in the film.

New discovery, Sakkara: Hawass Announces New Archaeological Discovery in Saqarra

The Egyptian Mission working in the Saqqara antiquities area next to the pyramid of King Teti, the first king of the Sixth Dynasty of the ...