Archeologists recently dug up dozens of ancient mummy priests without bringing a curse down on their heads — so they’ve gone back and done it again.
Egyptian authorities say they have unearthed dozens more mummies at an ancient necropolis in Saqqara, adding to the 59 sarcophagi they previously announced in early October.
Each sarcophagus houses a person’s mummified remains inside a wood case covered in ornate designs.
The initial discovery sparked plenty of jokes about ancient curses and Brendan Fraser, who starred in the Mummy films.
The new coffins were intricately decorated and buried with gilded wooden statues in three newly-discovered burial shafts at the site, the Egyptian government said in a statement.
Authorities did not say exactly how many more coffins they’ve found since the initial announcement, but the number is said to be more than 80.
“We will announce the details of this discovery very soon,” said Khalid el-Anany, Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities.
Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly paid a visit to the historic site in Saqqara on Monday, where he was given a personal tour of the recently-excavated mummy mother lode. El-Anany and Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, joined the PM for the tour and photo op.
تشرفنا اليوم بزيارة دولة رئيس مجلس الوزراء د. مصطفى مدبولي لتفقد الكشف الأثري الجديد بمنطقة سقارة. آبار دفن جديدة بها عشرات من التوابيت الملونة المغلقة منذ اكثر من ٢٠٠٠ سنة تم اكتشافها…. سوف نعلن عن تفاصيل الكشف قريبا … Honored to have our PM HE Dr Mostafa Madbouly visit today our new discovery in Saqqara. More burial shafts that contain dozens of colored coffins sealed since ancient times are discovered. We will announce the details of this discovery soon…
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Waziri and el-Anany were also on hand earlier this month when archeologists cracked open one of the coffins in front of a live audience.
Saqqara, which lies about 32 kilometres south of Cairo, has become a hot spot for archeological discoveries in 2020.
The necropolis once served as a major burial ground for priests and statesmen who lived in Memphis, the seat of the ancient pharaohs’ power, some 2,500 years ago. The ruined city also includes the famous Giza Pyramids, as well as several smaller pyramids.
The bodies are thought to have been mummified during Egypt’s 26th dynasty, which stretched from 664 to 525 BCE.
It’s unclear exactly how many bodies remain buried at Saqqara, but their coffins are expected to fuel Egypt’s tourism ambitions in the near future.
Authorities have already announced plans to house the first batch of coffins at the Grand Egyptian Museum, a mega-museum that is currently under construction in Giza. It’s slated to become the largest museum dedicated to a single civilization in the world, and the Saqqara sarcophagi will help fill out its exhibits.
The Egyptian government has dedicated itself to building up its trove of mummy artifacts in recent years, after decades of watching foreigners snag its best items for display at far-flung museums.
El-Anany had promised more discoveries after announcing the first batch of coffins in early October.
“This is the beginning of a big discovery,” he said at the time.
“Today is not the end.”
—With files from Reuters and The Associated Press
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