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
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