Archaeology breakthrough as huge ancient Egyptian cache found – including 250 mummies

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During excavations at an ancient necropolis in Saqqara, researchers have unearthed a collection of 250 complete mummies in painted wooden sarcophagi, along with more than 100 bronze statues of ancient Egyptian gods. According to Egypt’s antiquities ministry, many of these artefacts are around 2,500 years ago, dating back to Egypt’s Late Period. The objects were discovered at Saqqara’s “Cemetery of Ancient Animals,” also known as a Bubasteion, a temple complex dedicated to the Egyptian goddess Bast or Bastet.

The Bubasteion was later renamed by officials in 2019, following the discovery of other types of animals and statues of other Egyptian gods at the site.

The director of the excavations, Mohammed Al Saidi, told CBS News: “Today’s discovery confirms that the temple wasn’t exclusively for cats, but for other Egyptian deities too.

“We found two beautiful wooden statues with golden faces of the deities Isis and Neftis, named the protectors of the coffin.

“They were in a seated position [by one coffin], one of them by the head of the coffin and the other by the feet, in a position called ‘the mourners’ or ‘weepers’ for the deceased.”

“They were in a seated position [by one coffin], one of them by the head of the coffin and the other by the feet, in a position called ‘the mourners’ or ‘weepers’ for the deceased.”

The necropolis is located approximately 25 kilometres from the south of Cairo, near the edge of a desert plateau.

Since 2018, Egyptian archaeologists have been extensively digging at this ancient burial site.

According to the Egyptian antiquities ministry, this is the “discovery of the first and largest cache of bronze statues in the Bubastien necropolis”

Dr Mustafa Waziri, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities and head of the mission noted that the discovered treasure trove included 150 bronze statues of various sizes for a number of ancient Egyptian deities, including Anubis, Amun Min, Osiris, Isis, Nefertum, Bastet, and Hathor.

The researchers also found a collection of bronze vessels related to the rituals of the goddess Isis.

Dr Waziri also added that the team unearthed a new collection of 250 wooden coffins that dated back to about 500BC.

These coffins were found closed and contained mummies which were “in good condition of preservation”, in addition to a collection of amulets and wooden statues, some of which had gilded faces.

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Dr Waziri also noted that after excavating one of the discovered burial wells, the researchers found a well-preserved sarcophagus that could contain chapters from the Book of the Dead.

The Book of the Dead is a loose collection of texts written by priests across a period of a 1,000 years.

The book consists of a number of magic spells that were intended to help a dead person’s journey through the Duat, or underworld, and into the afterlife.

The sarcophagus will soon be transferred to the restoration laboratories of the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir for sterilization, hydration, study and knowledge of the texts it contains.

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