Egypt uncovers tombs and sarcophagi in new excavation

SAQQARA, Egypt (AP) — Egypt announced on Thursday dozens of new archaeological discoveries, including two ancient tombs in a Pharaonic necropolis just outside the capital, Cairo.

The excavation team said the artifacts unearthed during the year-long excavation were found under an ancient stone enclosure near the Saqqara pyramids and date back to the fifth and sixth dynasties of the Old Kingdom, which spanned roughly 2500 BC to 2100 BC.

The team said that one of the tombs unearthed belonged to a fifth dynasty priest known as Khnumdjedef, while the other belonged to an official named Meri, a palace official with the title of “keeper of secrets.” Other important finds from the excavation include statues, amulets and a well-preserved sarcophagus.

Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s most famous archaeologist and head of excavation, personally explained the new discoveries in the stone wall known as Gisr al-Mudir.

“I poked my head inside to see what was inside the sarcophagus: A beautiful man’s mummy completely covered in layers of gold,” Hawass said.

The Saqqara site is part of a sprawling necropolis in Egypt’s ancient capital, Memphis, that includes the famous Pyramids of Giza and smaller pyramids at Abu Sir, Dahshur, and Abu Ruwaysh. The Memphis ruins were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in the 1970s.

Thursday’s opening comes amid a series of new discoveries announced by Egyptian authorities last week. Officials said they’ve found dozens of New Kingdom burial sites dating from 1800 BC to 1600 BC near the southern city of Luxor. The ruins of an ancient Roman city were discovered nearby.

In a separate announcement on Tuesday, a group of scientists from the University of Cairo uncovered previously unknown details about a mummified teenage boy dated to 300 BC. the intricate details of the amulets placed on his mummified body and the type of burial he received.

Egypt frequently publicizes its ancient discoveries to attract more tourists, a major source of foreign currency for the cash-strapped North African nation. The industry suffered a long setback after the political turmoil and violence that followed the 2011 uprising.

Egypt’s tourism industry has also been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and is currently suffering from the fallout from the war in Ukraine. Both Russia and Ukraine used to be a major source of tourists visiting Egypt.


Associated Press writer Jack B. Jeffery contributed to this report from Cairo.

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