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Archaeologists Receive Massive Backlash For Opening 59 Ancient Egyptian Coffins

by : Julia Banim on : 07 Oct 2020 14:01
Egyptian coffinPA Images

Archaeologists have received a huge backlash after unveiling and opening ancient Egyptian coffins.

Standing before crowds of people on Saturday October 3, a team of archaeologists from Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities displayed 59 coffins containing the remains of priests and clerks from the 26th dynasty.

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Before the captivated audience, the archaeologists proceeded to crack open one of the coffins, unsealing the remains of an individual who was buried nearly 2,500 years ago.

As per Reuters, the well-preserved wooden sarcophagi were discovered in the necropolis of Saqqara, a UNESCO world heritage site located south of Cairo near Memphis.

The coffins had been buried in three 10-12 meter shafts alongside 28 statues of the falcon god Seker, one of the most idolized of all the ancient funerary gods.

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Secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mostafa al-Waziri, said:

My colleagues in the Supreme Council of Antiquities discovered burial shafts filled with wooden, sealed and intact coffins.

I am really impressed that Covid-19 did not stop them from digging to unveil more mystery and secrets about our great civilisation.

Today I can say most of the discoveries have been made by Egyptian teams on Egyptian soil. This is something I am immensely proud of.

However, as interesting and as historically significant as this find may be, many believe unsealing the coffins to be deeply disrespectful to the deceased and to the religious beliefs they once held in life.

Egypt coffinsPA
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One person tweeted:

It’s super disrespectful because the entire reason they were buried in these was so they could be guided to the afterlife and we were kinda just like haha no.

Another said:

They believed that your afterlife only lasted as long as your body does. That’s why they went to all the trouble of mummification in the first place. So this is more than just disrespectful, it’s the equivalent of ripping someone out of heaven.

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Egypt coffinsPA Images

As per the Ancient History Encyclopaedia website, the ancient Egyptian understanding of the human soul dictated that earthly bodies needed to be preserved so that the soul could have a chance at eternal life in a realm known as The Field of Reeds.

Upon entering The Field of Reeds, the deceased would find idealized forms of everything they left behind on Earth. Their goods, which were interred with their corpse, would be there for them to use in the afterlife.

The body was regarded of one of nine separate aspects of a person’s soul, and was referred to as the Khat. In order to enter The Field of Reeds, the Khat needed to exist so the Ka (a person’s double form) and Ba (‘a human-headed bird aspect’) could recognise it.

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With this in mind, great thought and care went into preserving a person’s remains with the hope that this would give them the greatest chance at eternal life.

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: News, Egypt, Now, Saqqara

Credits

Reuters and 1 other
  1. Reuters

    Egypt unveils 59 ancient coffins in major archaeological discovery

  2. Ancient History Encyclopaedia

    Ancient Egyptian Burial