Egypt unveils “treasures” three times millennia in Saqqarah

The Egyptian authorities unveiled to the public on Sunday new archaeological treasures discovered in the necropolis of Saqqarah, including about fifty sarcophagi of the New Empire over 3,000 years old.

These new updates were made near the pyramid of King Teti, the first pharaoh of the VI dynasty of the Old Empire, by a team led by famous Egyptologist Zahi Hawass.

This discovery rewrites the History of Saqqarah and more particularly the History of the New Empire, born 3,000 years ago, said Mr. Hawass on Sunday to AFP, adding that 70% (of this new discovery) remain to be explored.

Wooden sarcophagi, dating from the New Empire (16th-11th century BC), were found in a funeral well, according to Mr. Hawass, which states that a stone sarcophagus was also found in another well.

We discovered a total of 22 funeral wells, he told AFP. Among the discoveries in these wells is that of a soldier beside whom his hataxe rested, Hawass said.

In addition, Mr. Hawass added that his team had found a papyrus about 5m long containing Chapter 17 of the Book of the Dead… masks, wooden boats, games played by the ancient Egyptians.

The archaeologist considers this to be a rare discovery because most of the pieces found date from the New Empire. In Saqqarah, it is usually 500 BC.

Several of these objects were presented to the press on Sunday as the excavations continued on the site.

The Ministry of Antiquities and Tourism had revealed as early as Saturday evening in a press release the content of these discoveries, which he had described as major.

The site of Saqqarah, which is just over fifteen kilometers south of the pyramids of the Guizeh Plateau, is home to the Necropolis of Memphis, the capital of ancient Egypt.

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known for the famous degree pyramid of Pharaoh Djeser, the first of the Pharaonic era.

This monument, built around 2.700 BC by the architect Imhotep, is considered one of the oldest on the surface of the globe.

The authorities hope to inaugurate in 2021 the Great Egyptian Museum near the Giza plateau, where the famous Great Pyramids and the Sphinx are located.

Egypt hopes that all these discoveries and its new museum will revitalize tourism underserved by political instability and attacks after the 2011 revolution that pushed Hosni Mubarak out of power, and by the Covid-19 pandemic.