Egyptian archaeologists have unearthed more than two dozen ancient coffins in a vast necropolis south of Cairo. The sarcophagi have been sealed since being buried more than 2,500 years ago. Tourism officials hope the discovery spurs new interest in old artifacts.
The location of the discovery is the Step Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara, says Neveine el-Arif, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. She says researchers found 13 coffins earlier this month in a newly discovered 36-foot well. They found 14 others last week in another well.
The Saqqara plateau once held at least 11 pyramids, including the Step Pyramid, along with hundreds of other tombs. The time periods of the pyramids range from 2920 B.C. to A.D. 642.
Images of the latest finds reveal colorful sarcophagi (coffins) decorated with ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics as well as other artifacts found in the two wells.
Scientists are still working to determine the origins of the coffins, el-Arif says. She adds that more details and “secrets” will likely be announced next month.
Last year, archaeologists found hundreds of mummified animals, birds, and crocodiles, as well as two mummified lion cubs at Saqqara. The Saqqara plateau is part of the necropolis of Egypt’s ancient city of Memphis. It is also the locale of the famed Giza Pyramids.
Today, further digs were underway in the Egyptian necropolis (graveyard near a city). The ministry expects even more coffins to be found.
In October 2019, archaeologists unearthed what turned out to be as many as 30 ancient wooden coffins in the southern city of Luxor. (See “Egypt Finds 20 Coffins.”) The coffins now reside at the Grand Egyptian Museum, near the Giza Pyramids.
In recent years, Egypt has been promoting new archaeological finds in an effort to revive tourism. But years of violence, political unrest—and now the global coronavirus pandemic—have proven difficult to overcome.
(One of more than two dozen ancient coffins unearthed near the famed Step Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara, south of Cairo, Egypt. Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities via AP)