Archaeologists in Egypt have unearthed a wealth of artifacts at the ancient necropolis of Saqqara, including 250 complete mummies in painted wooden sarcophagi and more than 100 bronze statues of ancient egyptian gods.
The artifacts date from around 2,500 years ago, during the Late Egyptian Period, according to statement (opens in new tab) by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities.
The find was found at the “Cemetery of Ancient Animals” of Saqqara, a temple complex outside Cairo once called “Bubasteion” – a reference to the ancient Egyptian goddess Bast or Bastet, who was worshiped there in the form of a cat. CBS News (opens in new tab) reported. However, the complex was renamed in 2019 after archaeologists discovered other types of mummified animals and statues of various Egyptian gods there.
“Today’s discovery confirms that the temple was not exclusively dedicated to cats, but also to other Egyptian deities,” excavation director Mohammed Al Saidi told CBS News.
Egyptian authorities unveiled the discovery on Monday (May 31), placing the mummies, statues and other artifacts in front of Saqqara’s Djoser step pyramid for the announcement.
The Saqqara necropolis lies on the edge of a desert plateau about 25 kilometers south of Cairo. The old tomb has been the scene of extensive excavations by Egyptian archaeologists since 2018. Today’s news marks the fifth major announcement of artifacts found there – including 59 mummies found in 2020as Live Science previously reported – and there are still many years of work to be done.
The Achaemenid Persian ruled Egypt as a province of their empire throughout the Late Period, but Egyptian culture flourished during their reign and many temples were built, according to Encyclopedia Britannica (opens in new tab).
Recent discoveries include some 150 bronze statues of ancient Egyptian gods such as Anubis, a god of the dead who is often depicted with the head of a jackal; Osiris, the king of the dead; Amon-Min, a fertility god usually depicted with an erect phallus; Nefertem, the handsome son of Bastet; Isis, wife of Osiris and goddess of fertility; and Hathor, an extremely popular goddess who was considered the protector of women.
Archaeologists also found two painted wooden statues of the goddesses Isis and Neftis or Nephthys – a sister of Isis. Both goddesses are represented as protectors of a coffin, and each of the two statues has a face made of layers of gold leaf.
“They are [in a] sitting position [by one coffin]one of them at the head of the coffin and the other at the feet, in a position referred to as ‘mourners’ or ‘weepers’ for the deceased,” Al Saidi said.
Archaeologists also found a scroll of papyrus – paper made from reeds – in the same coffin; It was not unrolled, but archaeologists believe it could be up to 10 meters long and contains chapters from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, a ritual text meant to guide a dead man’s journey through the afterlife. It has now been sent to a lab for further testing.
This is the first time artifacts from the Egyptian Late Period have been found at Saqqara, Egypt’s Antiquities Ministry said in a statement.
But the site is much older – the step pyramid of Djoser, for example, was built around 2700 BC. Built during the third Egyptian dynasty, it is possibly the earliest complete stone structure ever found.
Mustafa Waziri, Secretary General of Egypt’s Supreme Antiquities Council, noted that the early stages of the excavations at Saqqara had uncovered the unique tomb of a priest and official named “Wahtye” who died around 2500 BC. during the Fifth Dynasty. according to National Geographic (opens in new tab).
Excavators have also uncovered seven rock-cut tombs: three tombs from the New Kingdom period of Egypt (1570 BC to 1069 BC) and four tombs from the Old Kingdom period (from 2575 BC to 1069 BC).
Archaeologists have also unearthed the facade of an Old Kingdom cemetery building, as well as thousands of wooden figures, wooden cat statues and even mummified cats, he said.
Originally published on Live Science.
Hundreds of ancient Egyptian gold-leafed sarcophagi, cat mummies and statues unearthed at necropolis Source link Hundreds of ancient Egyptian gold-leafed sarcophagi, cat mummies and statues unearthed at necropolis