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Egypt publicly opens 3,000-year-old sarcophagi

November 24, 2018

Two unopened coffins, one containing a well-preserved mummy of a woman, have been unveiled in Luxor. Several statues, paintings and figurines were also discovered.

Egyptian sarcophagus is opened
Image: Reuters/M. Abd El Ghany

Egypt on Saturday held an unveiling ceremony for a 3,000-year-old tomb, and sarcophagi [ancient coffins], discovered earlier this month in the southern city of Luxor.

In the first known public opening in front of the international media, one of the coffins was revealed to contain the well-preserved mummy of a woman. The other had been opened earlier and examined by Egyptian antiquities officials.

Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani described how French and Egyptian archaeologists had made two separate discoveries, including of "a new tomb ... with very nice paintings."

"One sarcophagus was rishi-style, which dates back to the 17th dynasty, while the other sarcophagus was from the 18th dynasty," Al Anani said. "The two tombs were present with their mummies inside."

Read more: Mummies of cats, scarabs found in newly discovered Egyptian tombs

A 3,000-year-old sarcophagus is opened
French and Egyptian archaeologists spent five months moving 300 meters of earth to locate the tombImage: Reuters/M. Abd El Ghany

The 18th Dynasty dates back to the 13th century BC, a period noted for some of the most well-known Pharaohs, including Tutankhamen and Ramses II.

Ancient treasure trove

Among the other finds inside one of the tombs were statues and some 1,000 funerary Ushabtis — miniature figurines of servants to serve the dead in the afterlife.

Read more: Egypt: Village discovered in Nile Delta predated pharaohs

Ancient Egyptians mummified humans to preserve their bodies for the afterlife, while animal mummies were used as religious offerings.

The artifacts were unearthed in the Theban necropolis of Al-Assasif. Lying on the banks of the Nile, between the royal tombs at the Valley of the Queens and the Valley of the Kings, the necropolis is the burial site of nobles and courtiers of ancient Egyptian pharaohs.

Read more: Egypt: Sarcophagus remains not those of Alexander the Great

Ancient Egyptian statuettes
A thousand statuettes, along with colored masks, and ceiling pictures were discoveredImage: Reuters/M. Abd El Ghany

Egypt often announces archaeological discoveries with great fanfare, despite being accused of a lack of scientific rigor and neglect of its antiquities. More than a dozen ancient discoveries have been announced since the beginning of this year.

Hit by the turmoil that enveloped Egypt after the 2011 uprising that ousted longtime President Hosni Mubarak, the tourism sector has picked up over the past two years, and archaeological sites, particularly in Luxor, are a significant draw for foreign visitors.

Reading ancient Egyptian

mm/jm (AFP, Reuters)

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