Just weeks after displaying 59 ancient coffins from Saqqara, archaeologists in Egypt have uncovered another collection of unopened sarcophagi in the necropolis, south of Cairo.
This time, more than 80 sarcophagi have been found, according to Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.
In a statement, the Tourism and Antiquities Ministry stated that the trove of colourful coffins, which was discovered on Monday, October 19, were buried in Saqqara more than 2,500 years ago. They were found in three newly discovered burial shafts.
Saqqara is a Unesco World Heritage Site, and the necropolis for Memphis, the capital of ancient Egypt.
Gilded wooden statues were also among the archaeological discoveries, as seen on the Instagram page of Egypt’s Tourism and Antiquities minister, Khaled El Enany. On Monday, the minster shared images from his visit with the caption: “More burial shafts that contain dozens of coloured coffins sealed since ancient times are discovered. We will announce the details of this discovery soon.”
Further information on the archaeological finds will be announced in a news conference at the Step Pyramid of Djoser, according to the ministry.
Earlier this month, coffins of priests and clerks from ancient Egypt’s 26th dynasty were put on display after they were found in August. The coffins were buried with 28 statues of the funerary deity Seker.
In recent years, the archaeological mission in charge of the discovery have also uncovered mummified animals and tombs in the area. Their efforts are part of a push from Egyptian authorities to preserve ancient artefacts and boost the tourism sector.
The discoveries will eventually make their way to the Grand Egyptian Museum, a $1 billion project that will house the largest collection of artefacts from ancient Egypt – about 100,000 – and is set to be completed by the end of the year.
Construction on the museum has been stalled for decades and was temporarily stopped in April due to the coronavirus pandemic. In August, however, Major General Atef Moftah, tasked by Egyptian president Abdel Fattah Al Sisi to lead the project in 2016, confirmed that work is “96.5 per cent complete”.
Among the highlights of the museum’s collection are 5,000 artefacts from the tomb of Tutankhamun, which include golden treasures such statues, fans, jewellery, as well as objects owned by the pharaoh, such as boomerangs and walking sticks.
The museum, located in Giza, is expected to open to visitors in 2021.