Cache of embalming materials found in Egypt

(ORDO NEWS) — During the excavations of the Abusir necropolis, archaeologists discovered the largest collection of items needed for the mummification of the dead.

Abusir is an ancient Egyptian necropolis located between Saqqara and the Giza plateau (Northern Egypt). The main part of its monuments belongs to the V dynasty (approximately 2504-2347 BC) of the Old Kingdom. First of all, these are 14 pyramids of varying degrees of preservation and several temples.

But even in the last century, Czech archaeologists discovered several structures in the southern part of the necropolis, which, although they were on the remains of ancient pyramids, themselves belonged to a later period – the reign of the XXVI (Sais) dynasty (685-525 BC).

The new find , made by specialists from the Czech Institute of Egyptology, also dates back to the 6th century BC. In a group of large shaft tombs located in the western part of the necropolis, they discovered a unique cache. All items in it refer to the process of embalming and mummification of the dead.

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In total, archaeologists have unearthed 370 large pottery vessels and many smaller artifacts – this is probably the largest complex and mostly undisturbed find of its kind.

The mine in which the cache was found is huge by local standards: 5.3 by 5.3 meters in size and more than 14 meters deep. It is adjacent to a large funerary structure, which is yet to be excavated.

The vessels were once divided into 14 groups and placed in niches made in the walls of the mine and located in a spiral at a depth of four to 12 meters. The number of items in niches varies greatly: from seven to 52 pieces. All vessels contained traces of materials or mixtures that were used for embalming at that time.

In addition, four limestone canopic canopies were found in the uppermost group of vessels. A canopy is a ritual vessel with a lid, in which the insides were kept, taken from the body of the deceased during embalming.

Not all human organs were considered worthy of preservation: four canopies were relied on for each mummy, in which the liver, stomach, intestines and lungs were placed. Around the 18th Dynasty (1550-1292 BC), canopic lids began to be decorated with figurines depicting the sons of Horus.

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The canopies found in the Abusir mine are all empty and clearly unused. But there are inscriptions on them, according to which these vessels belonged to a certain Vahibre-meri-Neith, and the name of his mother, Ituru, is also mentioned.

According to written sources for that period, several people with the name Vahibre are known, but their mothers had a different name. Meanwhile, a person well prepared for the last earthly ritual, according to Egyptian experts, belonged to the highest dignitaries of his time.

Such a hypothesis is based on the fact that the mine, in which canopies with his name were found, is located next to the burial place of Ujagorresnet, one of the largest statesmen and military figures of the Late Kingdom. But it can also be assumed that he was just engaged in embalming the noble dead.

It should be noted that the XXVI Dynasty is the last “native” dynasty of the Egyptian pharaohs, who ruled until the Persian conquest in 525 BC.

Although the kings were still local, under this dynasty, more than ever before, Egyptian society (especially the army) becomes very mixed and multiethnic. In addition to the Nubians and Libyans assimilated during the earlier dynasties, Greeks, Carians, Syrians and Phoenicians appeared.

Some of the foreigners occupied a prominent position in the army, as well as in the merchant and navy (the Phoenicians distinguished themselves in this). The traditional Egyptian aristocracy did not particularly welcome such changes, and under Ahmose II (reigned 570-526 BC), xenophobic sentiments flourished in the country.

And in 525 BC, the Persian king Cambyses II invaded Egypt and conquered, simultaneously capturing and executing the last pharaoh of the XXVI dynasty, Psammetikos III.

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