Pharaonic Mummification Workshops and Tombs Unearthed in Egypt

Archaeologists have discovered ancient mummification workshops and two tombs dating back to as early as 30 BCE at the Saqqara necropolis outside Cairo. Saqqara is part of the country’s ancient capital Memphis, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The workshops contained stone beds, clay pots, natron salt, resin material, and linen gowns used in the mummification process for humans and sacred animals, as well as ritual vessels, according to Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, in his comments to the press. Waziri said the artifacts date back to the 30th Pharaonic Dynasty (380 BCE to 343 BCE) and Ptolemaic period (305 BCE to 30 BCE). He also unveiled a colorful sarcophagus.

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GIZA, EGYPT - MAY 27: A view of pottery fragments at Saqqara region in Giza, Egypt on May 27, 2023. Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Ahmed Issa announces that new artifacts are discovered dating back to the Ptolemaic Dynasty and the Thirtieth Dynasty of Egypt in Saqqara region. Workshops used for mummification of humans and animals, tombs, statues, and pottery fragments were found during excavations in the region. (Photo by Fareed Kotb/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
A view of pottery fragments recently discovered at Saqqara in Giza, Egypt on May 27, 2023. (Photo by Fareed Kotb/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

According to Sabri Farag, head of the Saqqara archaeological site, the tombs were for Ne Hesut Ba, a top official from the Old Kingdom of the fifth dynasty of ancient Egypt, and Men Kheber, a priest from the New Kingdom’s 18th dynasty.

Reuters reported that officials said the walls of Ne Hesut Ba’s tomb had inscriptions of cultivation, hunting, and other daily activities, while Men Kheber’s tomb was engraved with “scenes showing the deceased in different positions”.

The archaeological discovery was made after a year-long excavation near the sanctuary of the goddess Bastet, which is home to the catacombs of mummified cats in Saqqara, some 19 miles south of Cairo, according to Reuters. The sanctuary is the same location where hundreds of mummified animals and statues were discovered in 2019.

The National Museum of Antiquities has been excavating at Saqqara since 1975, but the area has been an especially rich source of high-profile discoveries recently. In 2022, Egyptian archaeologists uncovered five painted tombs, the tomb of an ancient dignitary, and a sarcophagus belonging to King Ramses II’s treasurer. Earlier this year, they found an intact 52-foot-long papyrus from 50 BCE, a 3,200-year-old necropolis for the elite, and the oldest known mummy in the country.

Many of these items will be displayed at The Grand Egyptian Museum, a 5.2 million square foot state-of-the-art facility near the Giza Pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo, is scheduled to open later this year after construction is completed. It will house all of the treasures discovered in King Tutankhamun’s tomb, as well as 100,000 antique artifacts.


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