Egypt discovers 27 sarcophagi more than 2,500 years old

Science News

Reuters Staff

CAIRO (Reuters) - Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered 27 coffins at the ancient necropolis of Saqqara, a burial ground that is also home to one of the world’s oldest pyramids, the ministry of tourism and antiquities said.

Undated image shows one of the 2500-year-old coffins discovered in a burial shaft in the desert near Saqqara necropolis in Egypt, released on September 19, 2020 by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities. The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities/Handout via REUTERS
Mostafa al-Waziri, secretary-general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities looks at one of the 2500-year-old coffins discovered in a burial shaft in the desert near Saqqara necropolis in Egypt, in this undated image released on September 19, 2020 by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities. The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities/Handout via REUTERS
Undated image shows 2500-year-old coffins discovered in a burial shaft in the desert near Saqqara necropolis in Egypt released on September 19, 2020 by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities. The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities/Handout via REUTERS
An undated image shows a limestone coffin and a number of shabti statues discovered in a burial shaft in the Al-Gharaifa archaeological area of Tuna el-Gebel at Minya Governorate in Egypt released on September 21, 2020 by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities. The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities/Handout via REUTERS
Mostafa al-Waziri, secretary-general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities looks at a statue found in one of the 2500-year-old coffins discovered in a burial shaft in the desert near Saqqara necropolis in Egypt, in this undated image released on September 19, 2020 by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities. The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities/Handout via REUTERS

The wooden sarcophagi are ornately painted and covered in hieroglyphs, and were found stacked in two burial shafts, the ministry said in a statement.

They have not yet been opened, the ministry said.

Saqqara is a UNESCO world heritage site.

In March, Egypt reopened at the Saqqara site the Djoser’s Step Pyramid, the first pyramid ever built, after a 14-year restoration costing nearly $6.6 million.

In July, Egypt restarted international flights and reopened major tourist attractions including the Great Pyramids of Giza after months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Yet despite reopenings and continued safety reassurances to international tourists, many concede that the key winter season starting in October is going to be tough, further straining the economy. (This story corrects to say sarcophagi are made of wood, not stone)