GIZA, Egypt — A century after the discovery of tutankhamun The tomb made headlines around the world, in the sweltering desert heat outside Cairo a small team is still making new finds in ancient Egypt.
Digging layer by layer at Giza’s Saqqara site, moving earth one bucket at a time, archaeologists have found a giant trove of ancient coffins and mummies, along with ceramic amulets believed to have been used in burial rituals and thick papyrus documents.
Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s former minister of state for antiquities, told NBC News on Wednesday that the site contained countless other artifacts related to another pharaoh, King Tetiand his followers who worshiped him as a god for 1000 years after his death.
The remains of King Tutankhamun’s closest generals and advisers were also at the site, which is about 20 miles south of the North African nation’s capital, he said.
“I really think this year and next, this site will be the most important site in Egypt,” Hawass said, referring to a network of underground rooms hidden 65 feet below Egypt’s oldest pyramids.
“I always say that we found so far that only 30% of our monuments are still there, 70% are buried underground,” he said.
The discovery of so many new coffins in the region could be because “Teti was worshiped as a god in the New Kingdom, and everyone wanted to be buried next to him,” Hawass said, adding that his team had found nearly 300 coffins in the region. vicinity of the pyramid of him this year, most in good condition.
It is believed that he ruled for approximately 12 years between 2300 and 2181 BC. C., Teti was the first king of the Sixth Dynasty of ancient Egypt.
Although Teti’s sarcophagus is 4,300 years old, people continued to be buried near it for more than 1,000 years afterward because they wanted its protection, Hawass said.
After the mummies are exhumed from the site, archaeologists X-ray them to determine their age at death, what illnesses they might have had in their lifetime, and what might have killed them. The teams then carry out a careful conservation process and begin recording and archiving the newly discovered antiquities.
Hawass said the coffins and antiquities found at the site will likely go on display at the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza, which is scheduled to open next year, though the project has stalled numerous times due to political instability and a lack of funding. government funding, according to the museum’s website.
Numerous artifacts associated with Tutankhamun will also be on display there, though the boy king’s famous death mask and sarcophagus are still on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, in the interest of preserving tourism, Hawass said.
TutankhamunThe tomb of was discovered in 1922 nearly 400 miles south of the site at Giza in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, by British archaeologist Howard Carter.
It is believed that he became pharaoh when he was 8 or 9 years old, around 1334 BC. C., Tutankhamun ruled until his death 10 years later, and it is believed that he suffered from numerous diseases and disabilities, including flat feet, circulatory problems and malaria.
Undisturbed by grave robbers, the tomb was almost completely intact when discovered by Carter. “Inside, he discovered that there were four large shrines and he pulled them out with ropes,” Hawass said.
“And under the shrines, he found the golden coffins, three coffins,” he said, adding that among the 5,000 artifacts found in the burial chambers was a golden dagger to protect Tutankhamun in the afterlife, an ornate throne engraved with the story of love from his mother and father, and containers of beer and wine.
“In ancient Egypt, gold was like dust,” said Hawass, who was unable to quantify how much this inheritance valid for modern Egyptians.
“As an archaeologist, if they gave me all the money from the United States and England, I would say no,” he said. “This heritage belongs to everyone.”
Kelly Cobiella and Laura Saravia reported from Giza. Leila Sackur reported from London.
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