59 new coffins tracing back to priests and clerks found in Egypt
Egypt on Saturday put on show dozens of coffins belonging to priests and clerks from the 26th dynasty nearly 2,500 years ago, with archaeologists saying tens more were found in the vast Saqqara necropolis just days ago.
The dramatic find was unearthed south of Cairo in the sprawling burial ground of Saqqara, the necropolis of the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, explained the team had uncovered the three shafts where the coffins were laid in “perfect condition” due to a protective seal that preserved them from chemical reactions.
“We are very happy about this discovery,” he said.
On the other side, the Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled Al-Anani said that the coffins, sealed more than 2,500 years ago, dating back to the Late Period of ancient Egypt, from about the sixth or seventh century BC, added.
“I have witnessed the opening of one of the coffins … the mummy seems as if it was mummified yesterday,” al-Anani said.
The Egyptian archaeological mission behind the discovery had been active since 2018 and previously unveiled a cache of mummified animals and a well-preserved tomb of a fifth dynasty royal priest called ‘Wahtye’ in the area.
Since the find of the first 13 coffins was announced almost three weeks ago, more have been discovered in shafts at depths of up to 12 meters (40 feet).
An unknown number of additional coffins may still lie buried there, Al-Anani said at the site, near the 4,700-year-old pyramid of Djoser.
The mission will continue opening the coffins and studying their contents before their eventual display at the Grand Egyptian Museum, expected to open next year.