Archaeological discoveries

2,500-year-old inviolate sarcophagi found in Egypt

Egyptian authorities have announced the discovery of 13 sarcophagi still sealed in the necropolis of Saqqara, Egypt.

Inviolate coffins discovered at the bottom of an 11-meter shaft at the site of Saqqara, Egypt.

An intact funerary treasure has been unearthed on the Saqqara plateau, 30 kilometers southwest of Cairo, Egypt. According to the recently created Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, the untouched coffins were stacked on top of each other at the bottom of a burial shaft 11 meters deep.

Dr. Khaled al-Anany, Minister of Tourism and Egyptian Antiquities examines the findings. © Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

Vertical chimneys that can reach 25 meters deep

To enter the narrow conduit and access the abyssal vaults, the archaeologists had to let themselves slide using ropes inside the ancient gut. Vertical chimneys dug in the rock which can sometimes reach 25 m in depth.

The only way to enter the tomb is to slip down the 11m conduit using a rope. © Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

Inside the burial shaft, three sealed niches were also detected, which could indicate the presence of other burials. These 2,500-year-old "mansions of eternity" were encountered in the heart of what was once the necropolis of Memphis (8 km long by 1.5 km wide), the capital of the Old Kingdom (2635- 2561 BC), where for more than 3000 years the inhabitants of Lower Egypt buried their dead. Finding a place in the Saqqara cemetery was already a real headache, as the population density was high. Subsequently, over the centuries, the Egyptians got into the habit of reusing for their dead burials already dug by the populations of the Old Kingdom.

The interior decor of one of the coffins, once its lid is open. © Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

The identity of the deceased remains to be discovered

The deceased are then piled up in the smallest cavity. The interior of certain wells serves directly as a sepulchre. The sarcophagi are mostly found broken after centuries of looting and clandestine excavations, hence the importance of the recent discovery of the 13 inviolate coffins, with delicate decorations. The identity of the deceased remains to be discovered. The conservation of the surname for the ancient Egyptians being very important. An additional precaution taken in the will to survive in the beyond, which the populations of the Nile had.

In the shadow of the deceased, and to protect them, a statuette of Ptah-Sokar-Osiris, syncretism of the three deities Sokaris, Ptah and Osiris venerated in Memphis. © Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

In 2008, a French Archaeological Mission of the Louvre also discovered sealed burials on the Saqqara plateau.