Posts Tagged ‘Discovery’

Egypt unveils ancient mummy, part of new discovery


SAQQARA, Egypt – Illuminated only by torches and camera lights, Egyptian laborers used crowbars and picks Wednesday to lift the lid off a 2,600-year-old limestone sarcophagus, exposing — for the first time since it was sealed in antiquity — a perfectly preserved mummy.

The mummy, wrapped in dark-stained canvas, is part of Egypt‘s latest archaeological discovery of a burial chamber 36 feet below ground at the ancient necropolis of Saqqara. The find, made three weeks ago, was publicly announced Monday and shown to reporters for the first time Wednesday.

Egypt’s archaeology chief Zahi Hawass has dubbed it a “storeroom for mummies,” because it houses eight wooden and limestone sarcophagi as well as at least two dozen mummies.

Hawass led a group of international media Wednesday into the burial chamber, supervising as one person at a time was lowered into the shaft, holding on to a rope-pulled winch turned by workers above ground.

“It’s moments like these, seeing something for the first time, that hold all the passion of archaeology,” Hawass said after the mummy was unveiled.

The find dates back to 640 B.C., or the 26th Dynasty — Egypt’s last independent kingdom before a succession of foreign conquerors.

An Egyptian worker holds a torch by one of eight revealed sarcophagi found AP – An Egyptian worker holds a torch by one of eight revealed sarcophagi found inside a 26th Dynasty limestone …

Hawass said the discovery was important because it shows much of the sprawling site at Saqqara, about 12 miles south of Cairo, has yet to be unearthed. Rulers of ancient Memphis, the capital of Egypt‘s Old Kingdom, were buried at Saqqara.

Inside the chamber, 22 mummies lay covered only by sand in four niches dug into the chamber’s walls. Most were badly decomposed, showing only skulls and parts of skeletons, with decayed mummy wrappings. The sarcophagi were placed throughout the room.

A dog’s mummy — possibly of a pet — was also found along with mummies of children, prompting speculation the chamber holds the remains of a large family, with the richer, more prominent members, buried in the sarcophagi.

“Only the rich could afford to have sarcophagi made of limestone from Thebes,” said Hawass. Thebes is an ancient city on the west bank of the Nile, hundreds of miles to the south in what is today’s Luxor. “The owner of the dog could have asked that his faithful companion be mummified and accompany him into the afterlife.”

Hawass said he believes the mummy in the limestone sarcophagus belonged to a nobleman, but so far the mummies’ identities remain a mystery.

The storeroom was found next to an even older cemetery dating to the 4,300-year-old 6th Dynasty of the Old Kingdom, a few hundred yards (meters) away from Saqqara’s two most prominent pyramids — the famous Step Pyramid of King Djoser and that of Unas, the last king of the 5th Dynasty.

The find reflected the fact that the area was used for burials in both the Old Kingdom and 2,000 years later when these mummies were buried.

The lid of the limestone sarcophagus opened Wednesday had been broken in antiquity — likely by workers carrying it down into the chamber — and resealed with mortar, Hawass said, tracing the crack. Hawass added that he plans to scan the mummy soon, a complicated process that requires the mummy to be removed from the tomb. He believes there could be gold amulets inside meant to “help the deceased in the afterlife,” a common practice in pharaonic times.

Also Wednesday, Hawass opened another sarcophagus in the storeroom, a wooden coffin with an inscription in hieroglyphics on the lid that exposed another mummy, but stopped short of opening a third, also a wooden one, because of its poor condition. All eight sarcophagi in the storeroom are believed to hold mummies, said Abdel Hakim Karar, chief archaeologist of Saqqara but so far only three were opened. The first sarcophagi was opened Monday.

Excavations at Saqqara have been going on for 150 years, uncovering a necropolis of pyramids and tombs dating mostly from the Old Kingdom but also tombs from as recently as the Roman era.

In November, Hawass announced the discovery of a 4,300 year-old pyramid at Saqqara — the 118th in Egypt, and the 12th to be found at this site. In December, two new tombs were found near the current mummies’ discovery.

According to Hawass, only 30 percent of Egypt’s monuments have been uncovered, with the rest still under the sand.

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Egypt unveils ancient mummy, part of new discovery


 

By Katarina Kratovac    Associated Press  Wed Feb 11, 2009

SAQQARA, Egypt – Illuminated only by torches and camera lights, Egyptian laborers used crowbars and picks Wednesday to lift the lid off a 2,600-year-old limestone sarcophagus, exposing — for the first time since it was sealed in antiquity — a perfectly preserved mummy.

The mummy, wrapped in dark-stained canvas, is part of Egypt‘s latest archaeological discovery of a burial chamber 36 feet below ground at the ancient necropolis of Saqqara. The find, made three weeks ago, was publicly announced Monday and shown to reporters for the first time Wednesday.

Egypt’s archaeology chief Zahi Hawass has dubbed it a “storeroom for mummies,” because it houses eight wooden and limestone sarcophagi as well as at least two dozen mummies.

Hawass led a group of international media Wednesday into the burial chamber, supervising as one person at a time was lowered into the shaft, holding on to a rope-pulled winch turned by workers above ground.

“It’s moments like these, seeing something for the first time, that hold all the passion of archaeology,” Hawass said after the mummy was unveiled.

The find dates back to 640 B.C., or the 26th Dynasty — Egypt’s last independent kingdom before a succession of foreign conquerors.

Hawass said the discovery was important because it shows much of the sprawling site at Saqqara, about 12 miles south of Cairo, has yet to be unearthed. Rulers of ancient Memphis, the capital of Egypt‘s Old Kingdom, were buried at Saqqara.

Inside the chamber, 22 mummies lay covered only by sand in four niches dug into the chamber’s walls. Most were badly decomposed, showing only skulls and parts of skeletons, with decayed mummy wrappings. The sarcophagi were placed throughout the room.

A dog’s mummy — possibly of a pet — was also found along with mummies of children, prompting speculation the chamber holds the remains of a large family, with the richer, more prominent members, buried in the sarcophagi.

“Only the rich could afford to have sarcophagi made of limestone from Thebes,” said Hawass. Thebes is an ancient city on the west bank of the Nile, hundreds of miles to the south in what is today’s Luxor. “The owner of the dog could have asked that his faithful companion be mummified and accompany him into the afterlife.”

Hawass said he believes the mummy in the limestone sarcophagus belonged to a nobleman, but so far the mummies’ identities remain a mystery.

The storeroom was found next to an even older cemetery dating to the 4,300-year-old 6th Dynasty of the Old Kingdom, a few hundred yards (meters) away from Saqqara’s two most prominent pyramids — the famous Step Pyramid of King Djoser and that of Unas, the last king of the 5th Dynasty.

The find reflected the fact that the area was used for burials in both the Old Kingdom and 2,000 years later when these mummies were buried.

The lid of the limestone sarcophagus opened Wednesday had been broken in antiquity — likely by workers carrying it down into the chamber — and resealed with mortar, Hawass said, tracing the crack. Hawass added that he plans to scan the mummy soon, a complicated process that requires the mummy to be removed from the tomb. He believes there could be gold amulets inside meant to “help the deceased in the afterlife,” a common practice in pharaonic times.

Also Wednesday, Hawass opened another sarcophagus in the storeroom, a wooden coffin with an inscription in hieroglyphics on the lid that exposed another mummy, but stopped short of opening a third, also a wooden one, because of its poor condition. All eight sarcophagi in the storeroom are believed to hold mummies, said Abdel Hakim Karar, chief archaeologist of Saqqara but so far only three were opened. The first sarcophagi was opened Monday.

Excavations at Saqqara have been going on for 150 years, uncovering a necropolis of pyramids and tombs dating mostly from the Old Kingdom but also tombs from as recently as the Roman era.

In November, Hawass announced the discovery of a 4,300 year-old pyramid at Saqqara — the 118th in Egypt, and the 12th to be found at this site. In December, two new tombs were found near the current mummies’ discovery.

According to Hawass, only 30 percent of Egypt’s monuments have been uncovered, with the rest still under the sand.

30 mummies found in newly discovered tomb in Egypt


Feb 9, 2009  Associated Press

Egyptian archaeologists say they have discovered 30 mummies inside a 4,600-year-old tomb, in the latest round of excavations at the vast necropolis of Saqqara 12 miles (20 kilometers) south of Cairo.

Egypt’s chief archeologist, Zahi Hawas, says the new tomb was found Sunday at the bottom of a 36 foot (11-meter) deep well. Eight of the mummies were in sarcophagi and the rest had been placed in niches in the wall.

Hawas has described the new site as a ‘storeroom for mummies.’

His assistant Abdel Hakim Karar said Monday the use of such niches was rare during that period of time.

Excavations have been ongoing at Saqqara for 150 years, uncovering a vast cemetery dating mostly from the Old Kingdom, but including sites as recent as the Roman era.

Original Article

Mummies found in newly discovered tomb in Egypt


CAIRO – A storeroom housing about two dozen ancient Egyptian mummies has been unearthed inside a 2,600-year-old tomb during the latest round of excavations at the vast necropolis of Saqqara south of Cairo, archaeologists said Monday.

In this photo released Monday, Feb. 9, 2009 by Egypt's Supreme Council of AP – In this photo released Monday, Feb. 9, 2009 by Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, Egypt’s top archaeologist … The tomb was located at the bottom of a 36-foot deep shaft, said Egypt‘s top archaeologist, Zahi Hawass. Twenty-two mummies were found in niches along the tomb’s walls, he said.

Eight sarcophagi were also found in the tomb. Archaeologists so far have opened only one of the sarcophagi — and found a mummy inside of it, said Hawass’ assistant Abdel Hakim Karar. Mummies are believed to be inside the other seven, he said.

The “storeroom for mummies” dates back to 640 B.C. during the 26th Dynasty, which was Egypt’s last independent kingdom before it was overthrown by a succession of foreign conquerors beginning with the Persians, Hawass said. But the tomb was discovered at an even older site in Saqqara that dates back to the 4,300-year-old 6th Dynasty, he said.

Most of the mummies are poorly preserved, and archeologists have yet to determine their identities or why so many were put in one room.

The name Badi N Huri was engraved into the opened sarcophagus, but the wooden coffin did not bear a title for the mummy.

“This one might have been an important figure, but I can’t tell because there was no title,” Karar said.

Karar also said it was unusual for mummies of this late period to be stored in rocky niches.

“Niches were known in the very early dynasties, so to find one for the 26th Dynasty is something rare,” he said.

Excavations have been ongoing at Saqqara for 150 years, uncovering a necropolis of pyramids and tombs dating mostly from the Old Kingdom but also tombs from as recent as the Roman era.

In the past, excavations have focused on just one side of the site’s two most prominent pyramids — the famous Step Pyramid of King Djoser and that of Unas, the last king of the 5th Dynasty. The area where the current tomb was found, to the southwest, has been largely untouched by archeologists.

In December, two tombs were found near the current discovery of mummies. The tombs were built for high officials — one responsible for the quarries used to build the nearby pyramids and the other for a woman in charge of procuring entertainers for the pharaohs.

In November, Hawass announced the discovery of a new pyramid at Saqqara, the 118th in Egypt, and the 12th to be found just in Saqqara.

According to Hawass, only 30 percent of Egypt’s monuments have been uncovered, with the rest still under the sand.

Link to Original Article