After discovering 30 ancient wooden coffins near Luxor, Egyptian archaeologists cracked them open – finding perfectly preserved mummies inside.
Complete with intricate inscriptions and ‘exceptionally well-coloured’, they were discovered near the Asasif Necropolis on the Nile River’s west bank.
As per the Independent, Egyptian Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany said it’s ‘the first large human coffin cache ever discovered since the end of the 19th century’ – and now, their contents have been revealed.
Despite dating back to 10th century BCE and the 22nd Pharaonic dynasty, El-Enany said the mummies found in the coffins included 23 adult males, five adult females and two children – they were able to distinguish genders using the shape of their hands, according to Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.
If the coffin was carved with hands open, this means the person inside was female meant, whereas if the hands were balled into fists, they contain a male.
Following years of foreign-led archaeological digs, this marks the first cache of coffins to be discovered via an Egyptian mission.
As reported by CNN, Waziri said:
The last one was in 1891, [led by] foreigners. 1881, [also] foreigners. But… 2019 is an Egyptian discovery. This is an indescribable feeling, I swear to God.
According to El-Enany, further excavations are underway, including tombs which date back back to the Middle, New Kingdom and Late Periods (1994 BCE to 332 BCE).
Following the discovery, the coffins will be moved to the Grand Egyptian Museum which will be built near the Giza Pyramids in Cairo this November – it’s been in the works for decades, intended to attract tourists to the country’s ancient treasures.
The Egypt Antiquities Ministry hailed this find as being ‘one of the largest and most important discoveries’ – emphasising the large number of coffins as well as the excellent state of preservation.
A press release stated:
This discovery is one of the largest and most important discoveries that have been announced during the past few years as it includes so far more than 20 coloured wooden human coffins, in a state of conservation, colours and inscriptions in full and still closed, and were revealed in the situation that left them.
The ancient Egyptian where they were found gathered in a cache in two levels on top of the other.
Archaeologists digging in the area have previously made discoveries which date right back to Egypt’s 18th dynasty, a period which began at approximately 1539 BCE.
As reported by BBC News, the majority of tombs discovered at Asasif date back to ancient Egypt’s Late Period (664-332 BCE).
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After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He’s now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.