Another important discovery was made Wednesday after Egypt’s top archeologist unearthed a shaft tomb that held the remains of 30 ancient dwellers.
Early this Wednesday morning, Dr. Zahi Hawass, head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), opened a limestone sarcophagus sealed by the pharaohs for 2600 years. This sarcophagus was found inside a burial chamber, cut 11 meters under the ground.
This ancient chamber contained another 30 mummies, wooden coffins and limestone sarcophagi. The lid of the sealed limestone sarcophagus was found broken from the metal. Hawass noticed that the ancient Egyptians had broken the lid when they brought it down into the chamber. They had then restored it with mortar.
Hawass said that the moment of opening this sealed sarcophagus is an important event, especially “because we are looking into the unknown – we do not know what we will find inside,” he said. It took half an hour for the workmen to move the first part of the lid. When Hawass looked inside the sarcophagus, he found a completely preserved mummy in the most beautiful condition, dated to the 26th Dynasty (ca. 500 BC). He believes that inside this mummy there could be golden amulets. He hinted that in the same period the number of amulets could reach 100, most of them in gold. He also indicated that he had opened another wooden sarcophagus and found another preserved mummy inside. But the expedition did not open another coffin made of wood because the lid was not well-preserved and is in need of restoration. Also found inside the chamber were four complete mummies, fronted by the mummy of a dog. It could be believed that the owner of this dog had asked that his faithful companion be mummified and buried along with him, so that he could accompany his master to the afterlife. The team also found the coffin of a small child.
The head of the SCA believes that this is another important discovery for this Egyptian expedition led by him and his assistant, Abdel Hakim Karara. It could be the most important discovery at Saqqara because of the thirty mummies found inside one room, which could prove that Saqqara is still a virgin site – only 30 percent of the monuments have been found and 70 percent are still buried beneath the ground, he contends. This burial chamber was discovered west of the Step Pyramid, the oldest stone pyramid ever found in Egypt.
This completely new cemetery and burial chamber were found next to the Old Kingdom tomb of Sennedjem who was a priest. Dr. Hawass believes that the mummy found inside the limestone sarcophagus could be that of a nobleman. Sennedjem’s mastaba found on Monday is in the Gisz El Mudir area of Saqqara, lying SW of the 3rd Dynasty Step Pyramid complex of King Djoser.
Saqqara is Egypt’s most famous sprawling necropolis and burial site of the rulers of ancient Memphis. Yearly, thousands of tourists visit the site after visiting the pyramids at Giza.