The sarcophagus is 2500 years old. © 2020 REUTERS / Mohamed Abd El Ghany
A team of archaeologists in Egypt on Saturday announced they had found 59 well-preserved, closed, over the past few weeks, wooden coffins buried more than 2,500 years ago.
The discovery was unearthed south of Cairo in the vast Saqqara cemetery, a cemetery for the ancient Egyptian capital Memphis, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The team revealed the mummified remains in a coffin wrapped in funeral cloth inscribed with hieroglyphs in bright colors.
"We are very pleased with this discovery," said Mostafa Waziri, general secretary of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.
Since the discovery of the first 13 coffins was announced nearly three weeks ago, more have been found in holes up to 12 meters (40 feet) deep.
Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Khaled al-Anani also said an unknown number of coffins may still be buried there near the 4,700-year-old pyramid of Djoser.
"So today is not the end of the discovery, I consider it the beginning of a great discovery, and the coffins that were sealed more than 2,500 years ago are from the Late Period of ancient Egypt, which is around the sixth or seventh century BC," he explained.
Excavations at Saqqara in recent years have uncovered many artifacts as well as mummies, snakes, birds, scarab beetles and other animals.
The coffin discovery was the first major announcement since the Covid-10 outbreak in Egypt, which led to the closure of museums and archaeological sites for about three months starting in late March.
Anani said all the coffins will be taken to the Great Egyptian Museum (GEM) which will soon open on the Giza plateau.
Egypt hopes a flurry of archaeological discoveries in recent years and GEM will boost its vital tourism sector, which has been under a lot of shock since the 2011 Arab Spring uprising and most recently the pandemic.
Intern Reporter: Galya Nge