At least 100 ancient coffins and 40 gilded statues have been discovered it a massive burial site south of the Egyptian capital Cairo, authorities announced on Saturday.
Some of the colourful, sealed sarcophagi, which were buried more than 2,500 years ago, contained mummies wrapped in cloth.
The finds date back to the Ptolemaic dynasty, which ruled Egypt from around 320BC to 30BC and from the Late Period, between 664 and 332BC, and are now being displayed in a makeshift exhibit at the feet of the famed Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara.
Khaled el-Anany, Egypt’s tourism and antiquities minister said the artefacts would be moved to three Cairo museums including the new Grand Egyptian Museum that Egypt is building near the famed Giza Pyramids. He said they would announce another discovery at the Saqqara necropolis later this year.
‘Shafts full of coffins’
The discovery at the famed necropolis is the latest in a series of archaeological finds in Egypt. Since September, antiquities authorities revealed at least 140 sealed sarcophagi, with mummies inside most of them, in the same area of Saqqara.
Egyptian archaeologists found other “shafts full of coffins, well-gilded, well-painted, well-decorated,” Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told reporters on Saturday.
The Saqqara site is part of the necropolis at Egypt’s ancient capital of Memphis that includes the famed Giza Pyramids, as well as smaller pyramids at Abu Sir, Dahshur, and Abu Ruwaysh. The ruins of Memphis were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in the 1970s.
Egypt frequently touts its archaeological discoveries in hopes of spurring a vital tourism industry that has been reeling from the political turmoil following the 2011 popular uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak. The sector was also dealt a further blow this year by the coronavirus pandemic.