Archaeologists in Egypt announced Monday that they had uncovered a trove of ancient artifacts at the necropolis of Saqqara near Cairo, including mummies and bronze statues dating back 2,500 years.
Among the treasures were 250 sarcophagi — or painted coffins — with well-preserved mummies inside, unearthed during recent excavations at a burial ground outside Cairo, said Mostafa Waziri, the secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.
“In one of the wooden sarcophagi, we found, for the first time, a complete and sealed papyrus,” he told reporters at a makeshift exhibit Monday. The document was immediately moved to a museum for further study. Waziri said he believed it was similar to those found 100 years ago that discuss the Book of the Gates and the Book of the Dead. Both are ancient Egyptian funerary texts.
The dig also uncovered 150 bronze statues of Egyptian deities and instruments used for rituals dating back to the Late Period of ancient Egypt, about 500 B.C., said Waziri, who led the archaeological mission.
In February 2021, archaeologists found 16 human burial chambers at the site of an ancient temple on the outskirts of the northern city of Alexandria. Two of the mummies had golden tongues, which Egyptian Antiquities Ministry officials said were to allow them to “speak in the afterlife.”
That same month, a massive 5,000-year-old brewery — believed to be the world’s oldest — was discovered in the southern city of Sohag. The beer, researchers hypothesized, was used in burial rituals for Egypt’s earliest kings.
In April of last year, archaeologists announced they had unearthed a 3,000-year-old “lost golden city” in the southern city of Luxor, a discovery they said could be the biggest since the tomb of the boy king Tutankhamen.
The Saqqara necropolis, where the latest discoveries were made, was part of the burial grounds for the ancient capital of Memphis. Its ruins are now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The sarcophagi will be transferred to the new Grand Egyptian Museum, due to open near the famed Giza Pyramids outside Cairo in November, for display.