Even after countless excavations, archaeologists still find new surprises in Egypt. In the ancient Egyptian necropolis of Saqqara alone, hundreds of new sarcophagi and statues have been discovered in recent months.
Archaeologists have discovered 250 sarcophagi and 150 bronze statues during excavations in the ancient Egyptian necropolis of Saqqara. Among them is a statuette by the architect Imhotep, according to the head of the Supreme Antiquities Council, Mustafa Wasiri. The presumed first great master builder of the Old Kingdom revolutionized architecture in antiquity, Wasiri said when presenting the finds.
Saqqara is an important necropolis on the southern bank of the Nile. The city of the dead, which is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, also includes the step pyramid of Pharaoh Djoser, which was built around 2700 BC. The oldest pyramid in Egypt was probably built by Imhotep. Finding his tomb is one of the main goals of the archaeological mission in Saqqara, Wasiri said.
In one of the 250 sarcophagi, the archaeologists discovered an untouched and sealed papyrus scroll alongside mummies, as Wasiri further reported. It was taken to the laboratory of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo for restoration and analysis. According to him, the scroll, which is estimated to be nine meters long, probably contains a chapter from the Book of the Dead, a collection of magic spells and incantations intended to guide the dead through the underworld.
According to the head of the Antiquities Council, the sarcophagi are to be moved to the Great Egyptian Museum, which authorities plan to inaugurate near the Pyramids of Giza this year after repeated delays. Hopes are high that the monumental new museum, alongside the archaeological discoveries of recent years, will help revitalize Egypt's tourism industry, which is vital to its existence.
In recent years, ancient finds have been made across the country, providing a new understanding of the dynasties that ruled ancient Egypt. In February 2021, archaeologists found 16 human burial chambers on the site of an ancient temple on the outskirts of the northern city of Alexandria. Two of the mummies had golden tongues, which experts believe should allow them to "speak in the afterlife".
In the same month, a massive 5,000-year-old brewery believed to be the oldest in the world was discovered in the southern town of Sohag. The beer, the researchers hypothesize, was used in funeral rites for Egypt's earliest kings. In April last year, archaeologists announced they had unearthed a 3,000-year-old "lost golden city" in the southern city of Luxor. The discovery could be the biggest since the tomb of young King Tutankhamen.
(This article was first published on Tuesday, May 31, 2022.)