Cairo, Deep below the sands of the Saqqara

necropolis, archaeologists have uncovered a unique discovery they say

reveals the secrets of the ancient Egyptian mummies.

A mummification workshop and adjoining burial shaft, as well as

five mummies, their bejewelled sarcophagi, figurines, and a gilded

silver and onyx mummy mask were all unearthed at the site, which

archeologists say provides a wealth of new knowledge about the

mummification process.

We are standing before a goldmine of information, said Dr. Ramadan

Badry Hussein, director of the Saqqara Saite Tombs Project, which

oversees the excavation. Hussein beamed as he stood before a crowd

of journalists and diplomats who had gathered at the dig site, in the

shadow of the step pyramid of Djoser, to view the new finds.

This [discovery] is so important as it’s extensive. We have oils and

measuring cups � all of them are labelled from this we can find the

chemical composition of the oils and discover what they are, he said.

The embalming workshop and adjoining 30-metre (98ft) burial shaft,

dating from the Saite-Persian period (664-404 BC), also give clues

about their ancient inhabitants’ former status.

There are clear socioeconomic differences between the mummies in

the shaft, said Hussein. We see that mummification happened above

ground while some of those buried down there were either buried in

private or shared chambers.

The find is a boon for scholars of ancient Egypt and

archeologists, who believe that the workshop and the mummies

discovered in the burial shaft will provide new information about how

the ancient Egyptians buried their dead. The find also comes as Egypt

is preparing to open a museum to better display its rich archeological

wonders, as visitor numbers slowly edge towards the highs witnessed

prior to the 2011 revolution.

The site where the embalming workshop was unearthed was

originally excavated in the late 19th century, but a joint project between

an Egyptian and German team chose to re-excavate it in 2016.

Egypt needs a second round of excavation, focusing on the old sites

explored in the early 20th century, Hussein told the crowd. We can

use new examination and documentation techniques, and it will be

fruitful every time. We find new things that were left behind.

Further excavation will continue at the site, intended to unseal

several chambers adjoining the embalming workshop, as well as

opening four out of the five sarcophagi later this year.

This is just the beginning, said Dr. Mostafa Waziry, head of Egypt’s

Supreme Council of Antiquities, who briefly paused between interviews

to jump down into the dig site with a torch. It’s a very rich area. I’m

sure we’re going to find more.

The discovery comes as Egypt is hoping that new ways of

displaying its archeological wealth will draw in more visitors, in

particular the new Grand Egyptian Museum set to open close to the

famed Giza pyramid complex in 2019.

Egypt never ceases to surprise the world in terms of new discoveries

of its ancient history, said Dr. Tarek Tawfiq, director of the new

museum, as he stood at the top of the excavation site in the summer

heat. We will also surprise the world with how we display these

discoveries, the British Guardian newspaper reported.

Source: Oman News Agency