For more than 2,500 years, tomb raiders missed out on what’s shaping up to be a major, newly-unearthed trove of long-buried Egyptian treasure. In a huge tease of what they’ve come across, Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities illuminated social media this week with news that archaeologists have discovered more than a dozen well-preserved, un-looted human sarcophagi at the ancient necropolis of Saqqara.
The massive burial ground for the ancient Lower Egyptian capital of Memphis, Saqqara yielded up its new treasure at an excavation site that focused on an old well. Digging led by the Ministry’s Dr. Khaled El-Enany “resulted in the detection of a deep well for burial with more than 13” human coffins, the agency said in a recent Facebook post. The vessels appear to have “been closed for more than 2,500 years, with a depth of about 11 meters, and closed wood coffins [were] found above each other.”
Not even Indiana Jones had stolen so much as a glimpse at the well-hidden vessels until this week. Descend into the depths with the Ministry’s first look below:
Teasing that the 13-coffin find appears to be “only the beginning” of what could lead to even more buried treasure, the Ministry said the brief video is only a preview of what’s to come as they ready a full-scale announcement. From the sound of things, the researchers appear to have hit on one of the most fully-intact sites of its kind.
“Preliminary studies indicate that these coffins are completely closed and haven't opened since they were buried inside the well and are not the only ones,” the Ministry said in its initial post, with “more likely to be found inside the sides of the well.”
Still to come is the revelation of who exactly is buried inside the wooden coffins, as well as what place of prominence in Egypt’s Old Kingdom — the same era that gave us the pyramids, and the era that appears to coincide with the coffins’ estimated age — must have occupied to warrant such a posthumous honor. “[T]hese questions will be answered within the next few days through the continuation of excavations,” the Ministry assured.
We’ve waited more than 2,500 years for those kind of answers, so we suppose it doesn’t hurt to wait just a little longer. As the excavation digs deeper, here’s hoping Dr. El-Enany and the team have seen enough of Raiders of the Lost Ark to keep their radar on high alert for traps.