Researchers have discovered nearly 60 sarcophagi in Egypt. The tombs were apparently last opened 2,600 years ago. Archaeologists have already gained a first knowledge.

Spectacular find in one of Egypt’s most famous necropolis: archaeologists have discovered more well-preserved sarcophagi from ancient Egyptian times in the famous Saqqara tomb. A total of 59 coffins had been found that had not been opened for nearly 2,600 years, Egyptian Antiquities Minister Khalid al-Anani told journalists on Saturday. They are in very good condition and their original color has been preserved.

Sarcophages were kept in burial chambers

Al-Anani said he was there when a chest was opened. The mummy looked “as if it had just been mummified yesterday”. The wooden sarcophagi were kept in burial chambers. They belonged to priests and high officials of the late period of ancient Egypt. According to the initial findings, they lived in the 26th Dynasty, which ended around 330 BC.

Egypt, Giza: An Egyptian archaeologist removes dust from one of the newly discovered coffins. (Source: Fadel Dawood / dpa)

Saqqara is located on the Nile south of Cairo and served as a burial site for the then capital of the empire, Memphis, in Pharaonic times. Popular with tourists, the sight is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Pyramids of Saqqara are considered a “great masterpiece of architectural design”, as UNESCO writes. The famous 5,000-year-old step pyramid of Pharaoh Djoser is also there.

Egypt, Giza: A man stands in a newly discovered shaft while some of the newly discovered coffins are laid on the ground. (Source: dpa / Fadel Dawood)Egypt, Giza: A man stands in a newly discovered shaft while some of the newly discovered coffins are laid on the ground. (Source: Fadel Dawood / dpa)

Excavations despite high numbers of corona infections

The spread of the coronavirus in Egypt – 103,000 infections have been officially reported in the country so far – has apparently not stopped archaeologists from doing their job. “I am impressed that Covid-19 has not stopped them from excavating and uncovering more mysteries and secrets about our great civilization,” said Al-Anani. Excavations at the site had been underway for two months. Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities had already discovered 27 well-preserved coffins from the same period in Saqqara in September.

According to Al-Anani, there are other coffins out there that should also be recovered. The finds will be exhibited in the new Great Egyptian Museum (GEM), which is being built near the Pyramids of Giza. The GEM will open to visitors next year and, according to the operator, will house the largest archaeological collection in the world.

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