Archaeologists in Egypt are having exciting days as they have unearthed more than a hundred ancient coffins. Some of these coffins at the ancient burial ground of Saqqara have mummies inside. They have found 40 funeral statues along with funeral masks, canopic jars, and amulets. It is the largest find at the site in 2020.
According to Khaled el-Enany, the Egyptian minister of tourism and antiquities, the mummies in the coffins date back around 2,500 years, and they are in perfect condition of preservation. As the coffins are of high quality, experts believe it was the burial ground for the wealthiest citizens. He informed in a presser that the items date back to the Ptolemaic dynasty that ruled Egypt for some 300 years from about 320BC to about 30BC, and the Late Period (664-332BC )
Zahi Hawass, an Egyptologist, talked to Egypt Today magazine about the discovery and said, “This discovery is significant because it proves that Saqqara was the main burial ground of the 26th Dynasty.” He further said that the mummies are from mid 600 BC to 525 BC, enhancing the present knowledge of mummification in that period.
The first opened coffin had an approx 40-year-old man
On Saturday, experts opened the first coffin from the find and scanned the mummy with a portable X-Ray machine. They determined that the person buried in the coffin was probably a man of approx 40 years of age.
Archaeologists in Egypt have unearthed more than 100 delicately painted wooden coffins, some with mummies inside, and 40 funeral statues in the ancient burial ground of Saqqara. https://t.co/r6zQ8jN0yn pic.twitter.com/VvvgmVBjsh— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 16, 2020
Saqqara is a city located 20 miles south of Cairo. It has been a popular source of significant archaeological finds as it is a large necropolis (designed cemetery) for the Old Kingdom capital of Memphis. It was added to the list of UNESCO world heritage sites in the 1970s. There are over a dozen burial sites in the region, including the Step Pyramid of King Djoser that is the first known burial pyramid. Experts believe that they will discover more coffins and antiquities on the site, including an ancient workshop used to prepare bodies for mummification.
Egypt depends heavily on the tourism industry
An archaeological centre is under construction near the Giza Pyramids, which will open to the public next year. These mummies will be exhibited there, along with several museums across Egypt. The country’s economy heavily depends on tourism. The 2011 uprising, political problems, and terrorist attacks have affected the industry extensively. The Covid-19 pandemic added more issues to the misery. Egypt is trying to attract tourists back to the country, and such findings will help them in revamping the tourism industry.
Social media erupts with jokes about ancient curses and 2020
The infamous curse-stories associated with mummies, numerous films showcasing vengeful forces attacking grave robbers and the horrors of 2020 gave netizens a chance to find humour in the latest archaeological discovery. While some shared GIFs from the famous movie ‘The Mummy’ claiming the mummies could be cursed, some have jokingly said the archaeologists could have waited for a couple of months and open them in 2021.
Imhotep is pleased. pic.twitter.com/MVa03QDsOY— 🌊💙 ♡ 🅺🅴🅻🅻🆈 ♡ 💙🌊 (@Joker_Fleck) November 16, 2020
Was this really something that couldn’t have waited a couple weeks? Maybe until 2021?— jill😻 (@ThisJillRocks) November 16, 2020
Not sure we should run the risk of Mummy curses right now.
Covid-19 impact in Egypt
According to reports, Egypt has so far reported over 110,000 cases of coronavirus infection. In the last week, they had reported around 226 new cases every day. Egypt opened its borders for tourists in July with some restrictions.