Archaeologists have been digging in the desert for hundreds of years. Now they’re re-examining an area last excavated over 100 years ago—and finding important, never-before-seen relics.
Saqqara is a massive Egyptian necropolis (graveyard). It lies near the Giza pyramids. Tombs there date back more than 2,500 years. At least 17 Egyptian kings built pyramids at Saqqara. Other important officials also constructed monuments there. Most are in ruins. People have studied Saqqara for years.
Ramadan Hussein leads a team that is digging around again. His team has found a previously unknown burial complex in the famous necropolis. Down a 98-foot shaft, Hussein’s team located chambers carved into the rock. Inside were three wooden coffins, a limestone sarcophagus (casket), a mummy, and other objects Egyptians hoped would be helpful in the afterlife.
Those who put their faith in Jesus Christ know they can take nothing earthly from this life to the next. “We brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out” says 1 Timothy 6:7. Only the soul—and later, the resurrected body—will live forever.
Hussein believes no one has found this burial area before. Why? The mummy wore a silver mask inlaid with gems. “Very few masks of precious metals have been preserved to the present day,” says Hussein, “because the tombs of most ancient Egyptian dignitaries were looted.”
A mask like this hasn’t been found since 1939. Hussein calls the mask’s unearthing “a sensation.” The mask-wearer was a priest. For now, his name is unknown—since the plaque bearing his name was too badly damaged to read.
The most significant find may be an underground mummification workshop. In the space, diggers found a hidden embalming area. There, priests prepared bodies for burial. Two troughs probably held bodies while they dried out in salt-based preservative. The embalming area also held pottery vessels, bowls, and measuring cups. Even better, the jars had labels. Scientists hope to find out more about oils used in the ancient mummification process.
Hussein calls the jars “a goldmine of information about the chemical composition of these oils.”
Other artifacts include fragments of linen-and-papyrus mummy wrappings and jars for holding internal organs. Scientists will use 3-D imaging to analyze the finds.
“It’s only the beginning,” says Egyptian Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani. He says the new sites at Saqqara will likely yield more discoveries—perhaps even the identity of the silver-masked mummy.