A routine dig in Luxor, Egypt has resulted in the discovery of a sarcophagus – with a mummy inside and intact. The team of Egyptian and Spanish archeologists that led the excavation were working on a tomb when they unearthed an elaborately painted and well preserved sarcophagus carved with a human face. It is believed to be 3,600 years old.
According to Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, the burial took place in 1600 BC during the reign of the Pharaonic 17th Dynasty. The country’s Antiquities Minister, Mohamed Ibrahim, added that the mummy used to be a government official based on the titles etched in the 6 ½-foot sarcophagus. In addition, the ornate design and detailed inscriptions may signify that the official held a high position. Archeologists have yet to determine the precise identity of the mummy.
Sarcophagi are common burial vessels used by Ancient Egyptians to protect their dead royals. They were carved and decorated according to the physical attributes of the deceased so that they can be distinguished from one another. Alabaster and limestone are common materials used to make sarcophagi in Ancient Egypt. Other ancient cultures like the Greeks and Romans made use of sarcophagi to commemorate their dead.
The same Spanish-Egyptian team conducted another dig at the Draa Abul-Naga necropolis also in Luxor, and discovered two additional burials. However, both sarcophagi were empty. Al-Ahram, the country’s state-run newspaper, says that the tombs may have been robbed in ancient times.
Egyptian prosecution has been addressing the problem of smuggling and damaging ancient relics by charging both local and foreign thieves. Three German nationals have recently been brought to criminal court for conspiring with six Egyptians in smuggling antiquities. The Germans pretended to be researchers to gain easier access to the stolen relics. They have since fled back to Germany although Egyptian authorities plan to work with the German government in order to recover the pieces.
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