The archaeological site of Sakkara, located southwest of Cairo, has become a veritable vein in recent years for Egyptology, as evidenced by more than 100 sarcophagi 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 they were exhibited to the press and to a group of accredited ambassadors in the Arab country only one month after another 59 sarcophagi, dating from about three centuries earlier.
“Excavations continue in Sakkara and today (Saturday) we announce the discovery of more than 100 painted sarcophagi and sealed of the elite of the Ptolemaic period “, spanning from the end of the 4th century BC. C. said the Egyptian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Khaled al Anani, during the presentation.
Along with the sarcophagi, he explained, they were found “more than 40 artifacts, including funerary masks, statues and canopic vessels”, that is to say, the containers where the internal organs of the mummified corpses were deposited.
During the presentation, the opening of one of the sarcophagi and the scan of the mummy that was inside, a male between 40 and 45 years old, according to what could be deduced from 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 Waziri, assured that this es the biggest discovery of this year for the quantity, for the state in which they are and for their quality.
“The social level of the people who were buried here was a little richer than the others. They were elite and they had gilded sarcophagi, well painted and well decorated, ” added the Egyptologist.
Sakkara, about 30 kilometers south of Cairo, is one of the necropolis of the city of Memphis, the first capital of Ancient Egypt, and contains 13 pyramids, the most important is the Djoser step, the first stone, built around 2650 BC. 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 there since 2018, explained that the first find, from the beginning of that year, consisted of mummies and some wooden statues dedicated to Baset, the Egyptian goddess of love, harmony and protection.
From 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, whose discovery is reported in a documentary recently released by Netflix.
The third surprise that this mission made up exclusively of Egyptians took was in 2019 and consisted of animal mummies. In addition to the usual gatos, they found other of beetles, cobras, mongooses and monkeys, among other critters.
Waziri commented that, just like now people stop to buy flowers on the 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 also, at that time in Egypt there were “wooden sarcophagus workshops”, where he was looking for the one he liked the most and bought it for his deceased relatives, he added.
The last hundred found, Al Anani noted, are providing “a lot of information on the society and funeral practices in Sakkara during this period. “
“We know more about the practices of mummification, 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.