The archaeological site of Sakkara, located southwest of Cairo, has become a veritable vein in recent years for Egyptology, as evidenced by the more than 100 sarcophagi of about 2,300 years old, in excellent condition, just discovered and presented this Saturday.
These wooden coffins, with their respective mummies, were found in three wells buried between 10 and 12 meters deep and were exhibited to the press and a group of accredited ambassadors in the Arab country only a month after another 59 sarcophagi, which they dated from about three centuries earlier.
“Excavations continue in Sakkara and today we announce the discovery of more than 100 painted and sealed sarcophagi of the elite of the Ptolemaic period“, which spans from the end of the 4th century BC, said the Egyptian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Khaled al Anani, during the presentation.
It is estimated that the age of the hundred of coffins discovered is 2,300 years
Along with the sarcophagi, he explained, “more than 40 artifacts were found, including funerary masks, statues and canopic vessels,” that is, the containers where the internal organs of mummified corpses were deposited.
During the presentation, the opening of one of the sarcophagi and the scanning of the mummy that was inside, a male between 40 and 45 years old, was staged, according to the state of his molars.
100 sarcophagi of the elite
Although these coffins are some 300 years more modern than the 59 discovered a few weeks earlier, the secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mustafa Minister, assured that this is the greatest discovery of this year in terms of quantity, the state in which they are found and their quality.
“The social level of the people who were buried here was a little richer than the others. They were elite and had golden sarcophagi, well painted and well decorated,” added the Egyptologist.
Along with the coffins were more than 40 artifacts, including funerary masks, statues and canopic vessels
Sakkara, about 30 kilometers south of Cairo, is one of the necropolises of the city of Memphis, the first capital of Ancient Egypt, and contains 13 pyramids, the most important being the staggered Zoser, the first stone, built around the year 2650 a. C., about eight decades before those of Giza.
Less than a kilometer from this funerary monument, which was reopened at the beginning of last March after several years of rehabilitation work, is the Bubasteum, which is the place that has given more joy to Egyptology in the last three years, in which five great discoveries have taken place.
Findings since 2018
Mohamed al Seaidy, director of the Scientific Department of the Supreme Council of Antiquities and a member of the mission that has worked in that place since 2018, explained to Efe that the first find, from the beginning of that year, consisted of mummies and dedicated wooden statues to Baset, the Egyptian goddess of love, harmony and protection.
Of this deity, who is represented in the form of a cat or a woman with a cat’s head, the place was named, where at the end of 2018 a magnificent tomb of a priest and high official named Wahty was discovered, whose finding is reported by a documentary recently released by Netflix.
The third surprise that this mission made up exclusively of Egyptians took was in 2019 and consisted of some animal mummies. In addition to the usual ones of cats, they found others of beetles, cobras, mongooses and monkeys, among other critters.
Waziri commented that, just like now people stop to buy flowers on their way to the cemetery to deposit them on the graves of their loved ones, “in ancient times, they stopped to buy mummified animals and they offered them to their dead. “
But in addition, at that time in Egypt there were “workshops of wooden sarcophagi”, where people looked for the one they liked the most and bought it for their deceased relatives, he added.
The last hundred found, Al Anani said, are providing “a lot of information about the society and funeral practices in Sakkara during this period.”
“We know more about mummification practices, techniques, decoration, beliefs,” said the minister.
The hundred sarcophagi will be distributed among three of the museums dedicated to Ancient Egypt in Cairo and the one that is scheduled to open in the coming weeks in the new capital, located to the east of the current one, where the government is erecting a new administrative center.