(ORDO NEWS) — On Monday, Egypt uncovered a cache of sarcophagi and bronze statuettes, including one of the pioneering architect Imhotep, in the Saqqara archaeological site south of Cairo.
They are the latest in a series of discoveries made in the area.
Saqqara is a huge necropolis of the ancient capital of Egypt, Memphis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, home to more than a dozen pyramids, animal burials and ancient Coptic Christian monasteries.
Among the 150 bronze statuettes unearthed in the latest excavation is a statuette of Imhotep, who “revolutionized the architecture” of the ancient world, Mostafa Waziri, head of Egypt’s High Council of Antiquities, told reporters.
Imhotep, who lived in the third millennium BC, built the step pyramid of Djoser, one of the earliest in ancient Egypt. He later became the god of medicine.
Vaziri revealed the purpose of the archaeological mission, which has so far carried out four seasons of excavations in the area: “Find the tomb of Imhotep.”
Other figurines found depict various gods and goddesses, including Bastet, Anubis, Osiris, Amunmin, Isis, Nefertum and Hathor, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said in a statement.
According to Waziri, the mission also found “250 wooden sarcophagi with mummies inside, dating from a late period, around the fifth century BC.”
Inside one sarcophagus, the team found untouched and sealed papyrus, he said. It has been transferred to the laboratory of the Egyptian Museum in downtown Cairo for complete restoration and study, Vaziri said.
He added that the papyrus, nine meters (9.9 yards) long, probably contained chapters from the Book of the Dead, a collection of funerary texts made up of spells that the Egyptians used to guide the dead through the underworld.
The sarcophagi will be moved to the Grand Egyptian Museum, which authorities hope to open later this year near the Giza pyramids in Cairo after repeated delays.
There are high hopes that the new museum, in addition to the archaeological discoveries of recent years, will help revive the country’s vital tourism industry.
The sector has suffered successive blows, including the 2011 revolution and ensuing riots, the coronavirus pandemic, and now the shutdown of Russian and Ukrainian tourists who made up the bulk of the country’s visitors.
Among other finds at Saqqara, Egypt opened five ancient pharaonic tombs in March, and last January announced the discovery of more than 50 wooden sarcophagi from the New Kingdom period, which ended in the 11th century BC.
Contact us: [email protected]