The Discovery of New Sarcophagi: The Secrets of Saqqara Unveiled
Egyptian archeologists have announced a major breakthrough for historians eager to uncover the secrets of the Ptolemaic Dynasty in Ancient Egypt. The archeological dig took place in Saqqara, the birthplace of ancient architecture in Egypt. The treasures that were located include an ancient funerary temple that belonged to Queen Naert, the wife of King Teti who was the first pharaoh of the Sixth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom. This search also led to the discovery of more than 50 sarcophagi (ancient Egyptian coffins).
The wooden sarcophagi which reportedly date back between 16th and 11th century B.C., were located in 52 burial shafts across the plateau. These wooden coffins belonged to top officials in Ancient Egyptian history. The discovery of the sarcophagi is particularly significant, because it is the first time that coffins dating back 3,000 years have been found in the Saqqara region. The revelations have also led to increased speculation that new details could emerge regarding Saqqara’s historical role in the New Kingdom.
According to the head of the Saqqara Necropolis archeological mission, Zahi Hawass, the new discoveries will have a profound effect on Egyptian historical study in the years to come. “All these discoveries will rewrite the history of Saqqara and the New Kingdom,” Hawass stated. Zahi Hawass also maintained in a statement that the discoveries will assert the importance of worship during the 19th dynasty of the New Kingdom. Many of the anthropoid coffins are covered in paintings of the Gods that were worshipped in Ancient Egyptian history. The coffins additionally contain writings from various excerpts of the Book of the Dead, which many Egyptians believed helped deceased people pass over to the other world. Additionally, a papyrus, representing Chapter 17 of the Book of the Dead was also found in the mission. This papyrus reportedly belonged to an Egyptian named Pw-Kha-Ef. This same name was remarkably seen on four ushabti statues and a wooden anthropoid coffin. Many other ushabti figurines that dated all the way back to the New Kingdom were found at the archeological site as well.
Among the unique discoveries was the uncovering of mummification workshops. The mission additionally revealed large quantities of artifacts and statues that represent Ancient Egyptian deities such as Osiris who was the Egyptian God of the Underworld. Additional wooden funerary masks were also discovered at the site, alongside a shrine and several statues dedicated to the Ancient Egyptian God of Mummification, who is known as Anubis.
Many cultural items were found at the site as well. This included games that the deceased were said to have played in the other world. One of these games is Senet, which is very similar to the contemporary game of chess. Impressive amounts of ancient pottery were also reported to have been found at the site. According to Egyptian archeologists and historians, this provides potential evidence for commercial relations that could have existed between Ancient Egypt and other primarily Arabic-speaking countries.
One of the biggest historical discoveries regarded the timing for when Saqqara was used as a burial site. The grounds of Saqqara were reportedly used by Egyptians throughout both the Late Period and the New Kingdom Period. These burial grounds were a sacred place where the most powerful and wealthy people in Egypt desired to be buried.
“It’s the biggest discovery of 2020, but we are not stopping here yet. The discovery of one burial shaft leads to another,” antiquities minister Khaled El-Anany stated.
These new revelations follow discoveries made on an archeology dig from last year. Last year’s search uncovered many other remnants of the all-powerful Egyptian dynasties. The findings from last year marked the first cache of coffins to be discovered by an Egyptian-led archeological search. This follows countless years of foreign-led missions.
Even though substantial archeological discoveries have been made in Saqqara, lead Egyptian archeologist Zahi Hawass still believes that his team has only scratched the surface with their new discoveries. “What we found in the last two years in this area, (does) not represent 10 percent of what we are going to find,” Hawass stated.
Egyptian archeologists have renewed hopes for the reinvigoration of tourism into the country. Worldwide travel to Egypt has seen a recent decline due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This is a pandemic that has led to a large number of travel restrictions and public health concerns. This loss of tourism has led Egyptian officials to focus on staging a comeback once the pandemic eventually reaches its end.
Later this year, Egyptian authorities plan to open the Grand Egyptian Museum at the Giza plateau, which is home to the iconic Giza pyramids. Even amid unprecedented times, archeologists in Egypt have proven their commitment to continuing their search for historical treasures.