The mysteries and wonders of Egypt may have another chapter added to their story with an intriguing find by archaeologists in the vicinity of the famous necropolis of Saqqara. 13 coffins, made of wood, and still in good condition, have been unearthed from the area. These coffins are estimated by experts to be as old as around 2500 years.
The dating of the coffins means they are not from the golden era of mummification that existed prior to 1000 BC. By 500 BC, the approximate period to which these 13 sarcophagi belong, Ancient Egypt was in a stage of decline. Its prominent role in the Near-Eastern world was overtaken by powers such as Babylon and then, Persia.
However, these finds could be invaluable as they might provide historians with hitherto unknown information about the culture and society of the period. Like so many other caskets discovered in the deserts of Egypt, these coffins have not been opened since the time they were first closed. If there are mummies inside, they will shed some light on the culture of the civilization in that period.
Site of the discovery
The tomb where these sarcophagi were found lay 11 meters below the ground level. Due to their subterranean position, they have been preserved from any serious damage. In fact, some of the wooden caskets even have the original paint on them intact.
Saqqara is famous for its tombs and was the place where the first pharaonic pyramids were built. Pharaoh Djoser, who belonged to the Third Dynasty in Egypt's ancient history, has his pyramid there. This pyramid is regarded as the first built in Egypt's history to house the mortal remains of a king.
The caskets found now don't seem to belong to rulers but most probably, high officials in the court. Saqqara, though overlooked in favor of the more famous Giza site for pyramids in the years following the fall of the third dynasty, remained a place of importance as late as the Roman period.
Boost for tourism?
Apart from its value for historians, these findings have come at a useful time for the country's ailing tourism industry. As the Coronavirus pandemic has stalled travel and tourism across the world, Egypt too has suffered enormously. This explains why the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities is promoting this discovery with such vigour.
The government hopes these findings will rekindle interest in ancient Egypt among potential travelers and give a leg-up to tourism in the country.