Treasure Trove of Ancient Sarcophagi Unearthed Near Egypt’s Oldest Pyramid
The Egyptian ministry of tourism and antiquities has recently revealed a sensational discovery; archeologists succeeded in excavating a total of 59 ancient sarcophagi not far from the first Egyptian pyramid, the step pyramid of Djoser at the Royal Necropolis of Saqqara.
A few weeks back, the Ministry revealed to the world a discovery of 13 ancient sarcophagi believed to date back around 2.500 years. These had remained untouched and undisturbed for millennia. Now, further excavations have revealed an additional batch of sarcophagi from the same burial.
Egypt’s Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Enany said on Saturday that archaeologists had unearthed dozens of ancient coffins from the sands of Bubasteum, an area of the Saqqara archaeological site dedicated to the cat goddess Bastet, the guarantor of love, harmony, and protection.
Minister Khaled El-Enany also explained that the ancient sarcophagi were extracted from three different wells, totaling 59. Most sarcophagi contained mummies inside.
But the discovery is of even greater importance, Minister El-Enany explained.
“I think this is just the beginning of a great discovery,” he revealed. “There are still an unknown number of coffins buried in the same area.”
According to the general secretary of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mustafa Waziri, all the mummies belong to high priests and officials of Ancient Egypt who lived in the ancient capital of Memphis, something unusual in this location where mummified animals are usually found.
“There are not only cat mummies here, but we are also talking about the acolytes of Bastet, and finding such a large number of human mummies means that they worshiped them during the late, middle, and new periods,” Waziri noted.
The exhibition of the discovery took place at the foot of the stepped pyramid of Djoser, where the coffins were displayed, with one of them open to reporters to show the mummy inside. According to El-Enany, the ancient sarcophagi’s final destination will be the new Great Egyptian Museum, which is currently being built near Giza’s pyramids.
Several foreign diplomats attended the announcement ceremony.
The royal necropolis of Saqqara is a treasure trove of history. Not only is it home to the famous Step Pyramid of Djoser, but Saqqara is also home to a series of other pyramids, temples, enclosures, a Serapeum, and tombs that date back several thousand years.
Of the many archeological sites at Saqqara, my favorite are the Step Pyramid of Djoser, the Great Enclosure, aka Gisr-el Mudir, and the Serapeum of Saqqara, a subterranean complex that is home to several multi-ton limestone blocks that were perfectly polished and cut. These are said to have housed the mummified remains of the Api Bulls; a sacred animal worshiped by the ancient Egyptians.
The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities expects that further excavations at the site will reveal additional ancient treasures buried beneath the surface for millennia. Saqqara is one of the most active archeological areas in Egypt.