Embalming workshops were recently discovered at Saqqara. Four showcases displayed a group of cosmetic and mummification instruments, wooden statues of nobles, and wooden painted funerary objects and statues of the necropolis deity Soker. (photos: AFP)
The Saqqara Necropolis was buzzing with people earlier this week, all of them having flocked to the Bubastian Cemetery to witness the announcement of new discoveries.
The site was like an open-air museum with a collection of the newly discovered artefacts on display from two embalming workshops, one for humans and the other for animals, recently discovered at Saqqara.
There was embalming equipment found in the workshops, along with an anthropoid painted coffin of a nobleman from the Third Intermediate Period laid out and a seated statue of New Kingdom priest Men Kheber Re. Four showcases displayed a group of cosmetic and mummification instruments, wooden statues of nobles, and wooden painted funerary objects and statues of the Necropolis deity Soker.
“These are the two biggest mummification workshops for humans and animals ever found at the Saqqara Necropolis, and they include the beds on which the bodies of the deceased were washed and mummified,” said Mustafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA).
Instruments used by the ancient Egyptians to remove the internal organs and the canopic jars used to preserve them were also unearthed.
Waziri said that an Egyptian archaeological mission had also unearthed two of the most beautiful tombs ever found in the necropolis. The first belongs to a Fifth-Dynasty high priest called Ne Hesut Ba and is a mastaba structure (a flat-roofed structure) with a painted stone façade.
The names of the deceased and his wife are inscribed on the facade, along with hieroglyphic texts depicting their various titles. The walls of the tomb depict scenes of daily life, cultivation, hunting and offerings.
The second tomb belongs to the 18th-Dynasty priest Men Kheber Re. It is a rock-cut tomb with a decorated door and lintel bearing the names of the deceased and his wife and is decorated with scenes showing the deceased in different positions before offering tables.
The interior of the tomb contained a one-metre alabaster statue of the tomb’s owner. The statue portrays the deceased wearing a long robe and a wig and holding a lotus flower in one hand. It is adorned with hieroglyphic text written in blue.
Among the other finds was a collection of wooden statues depicting a man named Nesu Henu and his wife from the Fifth Dynasty.
Since 2018, the Egyptian archaeological mission in Saqqara has stumbled upon several treasures, among the most important of which have been the tomb of the Fifth-Dynasty priest Wahti, a large collection of sacred animals, and more than 160 anthropoid painted coffins that won the top 10 discovery in 2020 in the US Archeology Magazine.
* A version of this article appears in print in the 1 June, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly