On Monday, Egyptian archaeologists unveiled their latest impressive discovery at the Saqqara Necropolis site. This week’s reveal is the fifth since work started on the site in 2018, just 24 kilometres southwest of Cairo.
The priceless artifacts include 250 painted sarcophagi, sealed, with the mummies well preserved inside, and 150 bronze statues depicting ancient Egyptian deities, among which Anubis, Osiris, Nefertem, Isis and Hathor. A headless bronze statue of Imhotep, the chief architect of Pharaoh Djoser who ruled ancient Egypt between 2630 and 2611 BC, was also revealed. All of the artifacts are over 2,500 years old, dating back to the Late Period, about 500 BC.
We found two beautiful wooden statues with golden faces of the deities Isis and Neftis, named the protectors of the coffin. They were in a seated position, one of them by the head of the coffin and the other by the feet, in a position called ‘the mourners’ or ‘weepers’ for the deceased.Dr. Mohamed Al Saidi, the archaeological mission’s director, for CBS News
Inside the sarcophagus guarded by Isis and Neftis, the archaeologists discovered a papyrus roll which they approximate to be 10m long and seems to contain chapters of Book of the Dead, an ancient Egyptian funerary text consisting of a number of magic spells intended to assist a dead person’s journey through the Duat (the realm of the dead in ancient Egyptian mythology, the underworld) and into the afterlife. It was immediately sent to the lab of the Egyptian Museum for further examination.
All the findings come from the “Cemetery of Sacred Animals” at the Saqqara site, which is part of a vast necropolis in Memphis, the ancient capital of Egypt, including the pyramids of Giza and the smaller pyramids of Abu Sir, Dahshur and Abu Ruwaysh, and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. The cemetery used to be called “Bubasteion”, an homage to the ancient Egyptian goddess of protection, pleasure and the bringer of good health Bastet, who is depicted having the head of a cat, because most of the statues that were initially found at the site were in the shape of cats.
The name was changed in 2019 when archaeologists discovered other mummified animals and statues of other ancient Egyptian gods. Dr. Mohamed Al Saidi, the mission’s director, told CBS News that Monday’s “discovery confirms that the temple wasn’t exclusively for cats, but for other Egyptian deities too”.
The site is about 400m long, but since work started in 2018 excavations have been only carried out in about 100m. In this time, over 450 decorated and sealed sarcophagi, all containing well preserved mummies, have been unearthed. Dr. Al Saidi told CBD News that “the site likely still has a lot more treasures to reveal”.