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Ancient Egyptian Trove found at Saqqara


wooden coffin from saqqara necropolis. the wooden coffin is decorated with colorful scenes and hieroglyphics.
Wooden coffin from Saqqara. Image credit Luis García.

A new major discovery was unraveled on Sunday 17 January 2021. The announcement was made by the renowned Egyptian archeologist Dr. Zahi Hawas. Quoting his exact words "the discovery rewrites the history of the New Kingdom".

Well, Dr. Zahi Hawas is famous for over statements. He is famous for enthusiastic use of English language phrases and superlatives.

So what is the discovery?

Saqqara

Saqqara is located 25 kilometers (16 Miles) south of the Great Pyramid of Giza. It was one of the earliest royal burial grounds in the Ancient Egyptian civilization.

The people living around the Egyptian Nile were unified under the rule of one pharaoh in 3100 BCE. That is marked as the start of the Ancient Egyptian civilization, one unified kingdom.

The pharaoh, Narmer, who unified the land, built a new capital city. That capital city was later on called Memphis. It is now a historical site open for visitors. You can see the remnants of sculptures that once stood in tis major temple.

The burial ground of Memphis was the adjacent desert, called Saqqara. Hence the importance. Imagine a site that was used as a royal and noblemen burial ground from 3100 BCE till the Roman Era. That is more than 3500 years of burials.

What is the exact location of Saqqara new discovery of 2021?

The discovery is located near the pyramid of pharaoh Teti. He is the first pharaoh of the sixth ancient Egyptian dynasty. It was a time of prosperity. The Giza Great Pyramid was about 100 years old when Teti became Pharaoh. Trade relations were booming. The Ancient Egyptians enjoyed the respect of its neighboring nations. Egyptians were ultimately the most civilized in the Levant by that time.

The area around Teti's Pyramid had burials of nobles. They are from all phases of ancient Egyptian history.

What was found in Saqqara 2021 discovery?

The list of finds is extensive, here is what we know so far:

Wooden Sarcophagi

50 wooden sarcophagi dating back to New Kingdom. That is 16th to 11th centuries BCE.

Queen's Funeral Temple

The funeral temple of Queen Neit, wife of king Teti of the sixth dynasty. This temple is 4300 years old.

Long papyrus scroll

This papyrus scroll is 4 meters (13 foot) long. It has spells from the Book of The Dead. This is not an actual book. The Book of the Dead is the modern name given to an ancient collection of spells. These spells were first discovered on the walls of the Valley of the Kings in Luxor. They were sporadic spells on the walls and on papyrus. They did not belong to any of the funeral books written by the ancient priests. Egyptologists decided to give them the name "Book of The Dead".

Mummies and Coffins

Several burial shafts had been found. So far the number is 22. Mummies intact in their wooden coffins had been found. One of them belongs to a soldier with his battle axe resting beside him.

Funeral Furniture

Games, masks, wooden boats and artifacts were found in these burial shafts. This will add to the trove of ancient Egyptian furniture that we have all over the museums.

Other attraction in Saqqara

Saqqara is filled with monuments. You can easily spend a full day sightseeing there. And it will not get boring as the type of monuments there is different than other burial grounds in Egypt. We will cover these sites in more details on another post.

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