Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced on Saturday a new batch of major discoveries in the Saqqara Necropolis archaeological site.
The new discoveries date back to the New Kingdom, a statement by the ministry read.
Renowned Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, who is the head of the Egyptian archaeological mission operating at the Saqqara Necropolis, said discoveries made recently will make Saqqara an important tourist and cultural destination.
The discoveries will also rewrite the history of Saqqara during the New Kingdom and assert the importance of the worship of King Teti during the 19th Dynasty of the New Kingdom, Hawass was quoted as saying in the statement.
Last November, in a major discovery, a collection of 100 intact 26th Dynasty coffins were unearthed in the necropolis, in addition to golden funerary masks and a collection of 40 wooden statues of Saqqara goddess Ptah Soker.
The Saqqara Necropolis is located next to the Pyramid of King Teti, the first king of the Sixth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom.
The new discoveries “will rewrite the history of this region, especially during the 18th and 19th dynasties of the New Kingdom, during which King Teti was worshiped, and the citizens at that time were buried around his pyramid,” added the statement.
The mission discovered the funerary temple of Queen Nearit, the wife of King Teti, a part of which was uncovered earlier, the statement said. The mission also discovered the layout of the temple in which the queen’s tomb was being revived.
The mission also found in the temple three mud-brick warehouses attached to the temple in the southeastern side. The stores were built to store temple provisions, offerings and tools that were used in the queen’s tomb.
Among the most important discoveries of the mission at the site was the unveiling of 52 burial shafts, 10-12 meters deep, containing hundreds of wooden coffins dating back to the New Kingdom.
This is the first time that coffins dating back 3,000 years have been found in the Saqqara region.
Painted on the surface of the anthropoid coffins are scenes of the gods that were worshiped during that period, in addition to various excerpts from the Book of the Dead that help the deceased cross to the other world.
The discovery confirmed that Saqqara was not used for burial during the Late Period only, but also during the New Kingdom.
The mission also succeeded in discovering a cache of anthropoid wooden coffins. Inside the shaft, 50 coffins were found in a good condition.
The mission uncovered a luxurious mud-brick shrine dating back to the New Kingdom, lying 24m below the ground level without hitting the burial chamber yet.
The open court of the shaft was paved with well-polished and shiny limestone slabs. This is the first time a shaft this deep was unearthed. Hawass believes the shaft was not looted and will be fully disclosed.
The discovery confirms the existence of many workshops that produced these coffins, which were bought by the locals, as well as mummification workshops.
Inside the shafts, the mission discovered large numbers of archaeological artefacts and statues that represent deities, such as the god Osiris and Ptah-Soker-Osiris.
Among the unique discoveries, was a papyrus, 4m long and 1m wide, representing Chapter 17 from the Book of the Dead. The name of its owner (Pw-Kha-Ef) is recorded on it, the statement added.
The same name was found on four ushabti statues and a wooden anthropoid coffin.
Many beautiful ushabti figurines made of wood, stone, and faience dating back to the New Kingdom were also unearthed.
The mission uncovered many wooden funerary masks as well as a shrine dedicated to the god Anubis (Guardian of the Cemetery), and beautiful statues of Anubis.
It also discovered many games that the deceased used to play in the other world, such as the game (Senet), which is similar to the modern chess, as well as the (Twenty) game with the name of the player recorded.
Many artefacts shaped like birds, such as geese, were found as well as a magnificent bronze ax, indicating that its owner was one of the army leaders during the New Kingdom.
A wonderful well-preserved limestone stelae was found in one of the excavated shafts. It belonges to a man named Kha-Ptah and his wife Mwt-em-wia.
The upper part of the stelae represents the deceased and his wife in an adoration gesture in front of god Osiris, while the lower part represents the deceased sitting and behind him his wife seated on a chair.
Below the chair of the wife there is one of their daughters sitting on her legs and smelling the lotus flower, and above her head is the ointment flask.
In front of the man and his wife we see six of their daughters and sons, who were depicted in two registers, the upper one for seated daughters smelling the lotus flowers and above their heads are the ointment flasks, and the lower one for standing sons.
One of the daughters is named Nefertary, named after the beloved wife of king Ramses II, who built her a marvellous tomb at the Valley of the Queens and a temple at Abu Simbel.
One of the sons is named Kha-em-waset after one of the sons of King Ramses II, and he is known to have been a wise man. He was also known as the first Egyptologist who used to restore the antiquities of his ancestors.
As for the titles of the owner of the stela, he was the overseer of the king’s military chariot, which indicates his prestigious position during the 19th Dynasty.
The mission also found impressive quantities of pottery dating back to the New Kingdom, including pottery that gives us evidence about the commercial relations between Egypt and Crete, Syria, Palestine, the statement added.
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