Egypt Discovers 14 Ancient Sarcophagi at Saqqara

A handout picture released by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities on September 20, 2020, shows one of fourteen coffins discovered in a burial shaft at Saqqara south of Cairo. (AFP)

Egypt’s antiquities ministry announced Sunday the discovery of 14 sarcophagi in the Saqqara necropolis south of Cairo lain buried for 2,500 years.

The coffins were found two days ago during an archaeological dig at the burial spot; where discovering another 13 wooden sarcophagi last week, the ministry said in a statement.

The vast Saqqara necropolis is located around 16 kilometers (10 miles) south of the famed Giza pyramids. It is part of the ancient city of Memphis, a UNESCO World Heritage site; and hosts the colossal step Pyramid of Djoser.

Photographs of the well-preserved wooden coffins show ornate and intricate paintings; with maroon and blue lines, as well as hieroglyphic pictorials.

The ministry said that it has plans for more excavations; with the expectation of finding another trove of wooden coffins at the site.

In a video distributed this month announcing the discoveries; Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani said the recent finds at Saqqara were “just the beginning”.

Egypt has sought to promote archaeological discoveries across the country in a bid to revive tourism, which took a hit from restrictions on travel due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In July, authorities reopened the Giza pyramids and other archaeological sites to the public; after a three-month closure and waived tourist visa fees to lure holidaymakers.

Egypt is also planning to unveil its centerpiece project of the Grand Egyptian Museum in the coming months.

The tourism sector, battered by years of political turmoil and terror attacks, recovered to draw record visitors, around 13.6 million last year, when the Covid-19 crisis struck.