Discovered more than 100 intact sarcophagi, a treasure to know “the good death” of the Egyptians

Discovered more than 100 intact sarcophagi, a treasure to know “the good death” of the Egyptians

Egypt announces the discovery of a hundred perfectly preserved coffins in the vicinity of the stepped pyramid of Djoser, the undisputed jewel of the Saqqara necropolis.

Discovered more than 100 intact sarcophagi, a treasure to know

When a door is opened, others appear who guard their secrets with zeal. Two thousand five hundred years after they were deposited under the sands of the royal cemetery of Saqqara, more than a hundred coffins have returned this Saturday to see the public light. The woods that led their tenants to the Hereafter, in search of “the second life”, have now returned to tell new passages of the “good death” of the ancient Egyptians. “There are more than a hundred sealed sarcophagi. I don't know

we still know what is inside or the exact titles of those who inhabit them. In reality, we also do not know if they are men or women; if it is a family or several generations “, recognizes EL MUNDO Mohamed el Saidi, one of the members of the Egyptian mission who has presented this Saturday his latest and media finding a few meters from the stepped pyramid of Zoser, the oldest in the stone constructions of the planet and the undisputed jewel of the Saqqara necropolis. Under a tent installed for the occasion and with the already mandatory pageantry of local authorities, diplomats and journalists, the land of the pharaohs has announced a discovery that adds to the advanced at the beginning of last October, when it was reported the discovery of 59 intact graves made of wood. The new hundred of coffins have been recovered from the same area at that time, the 'Bubasteum', a religious complex from the Ptolemaic period (332 – 30 BC ) consecrated to Bastet, the feline-faced protector goddess. “We found nearly thirty feet of rubble and, after working hard to remove it, we located three pits nearly forty feet wide. depth, “explains Mustafa el Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities who oversees an excavation launched three years ago. The new archaeological treasure has appeared in the hollows that went unnoticed by the around 40 foreign missions that for decades have drilled Saqqara and its labyrinth of underground passageways, tombs and temples. “They belong to the elite because the conditions of the sarcophagi are better than the ones we announced in October. Their owners are a little richer than the others and therefore have a higher social level,” says El Waziri. “If those were priests and inspectors, these are high priests and chief inspectors. These guys have a little more rank,” he sketches a few inches from a selection of the recently rescued sarcophagi. The wooden coffins, beautifully decorated and in good condition, are a frozen testimony of the wealthiest classes of ancient Egypt and their obsession with the “good death”, to whose preparation they dedicated years and a generous percentage of their stipends. “It provides us with information about the society of early Egypt and its funeral rites. It is one of the greatest discoveries of that historical period,” admits Khaled el Anani, Egyptian Minister of Antiquities and Tourism. “In the area of the Bubasteum there was a workshop dedicated to the mummification of animals, from cats to crocodiles, hawks or snakes, with the same function that current cemeteries fulfill. Today, on the way to the cemetery, people stop at a flower shop to buy a bouquet. In ancient Egypt, visitors stopped at the mummification workshop to buy an animal and offer it to the goddess Bastet, “says El Waziri. “To the left of the pharaonic cemetery, there would be another workshop, that of wooden coffins,” he adds. “Ancient Egyptians would come to look at the different models. They would say, 'I like this one, how much does it cost?' They would acquire it and use it for their relatives, “says the official, hoping to find the traces of the sarcophagus workshop in the excavation tasks that are still continuing in the Saqqara compound, hunting for the certainties that were safe from thieves and the ailments of time. The discovery of the coffins, accompanied by fifty statues, was enlivened this Saturday by the opening and live scanning of one of the coffins and its cared mummy. Under the gaze of bosses and reporters, a team of experts has subjected the deceased to a medical examination without obligation of confidentiality. The report, with the radiology results projected on a screen, has been reassuring. “The x-ray allows us to understand the whole history of this mummy. It is very well mummified,” warned one of the doctors. “His age would range approximately between 40 and 45 years. The pelvis is that of a male. The measurements of the femur and of all the bones lead us to estimate that the height of this individual would be between 160 to 164 centimeters”, he has dissected one of the researchers, dressed in a white coat. “He died of natural causes and, following the protocol, they removed all the organs. Then they placed his heart in the original position,” adds El Saidi. “The ancient Egyptians considered the heart the entrance and exit door of the soul of the deceased,” argues the official, confident that the detective task that is now beginning – with the examinations of the rest of the sarcophagi – will help to know diseases and types of mummification and funeral decoration. “For this historical period we lack manuals. Scientific research will provide us with the possibility of constructing a reference”, he admits with the serenity that the papyri that explain the journey towards eternity distil. “A good burial after a venerable old age … You cross in the boat undisturbed, you sail in the flowing stream of the water, you come to life a second time, you rise to heaven and open the 'Duat' (the Other World) , in the way you want. “

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