Continuing excavations at the ancient Egyptian necropolis of Saqqara have unearthed from burial wells 100 intact wooden coffins, dating back more than 2,000 years. The new discoveries follow on from the find of 59 painted coffins in the same location, announced in October. Now the newly excavated coffins have been removed, further work will be done to explore the shafts behind them.
As well as the coffins, which date to the Late Period (525-332 BC) and Ptolemaic Dynasty (323-30 BC), Egyptian archaeologists found shabtis, amulets, four gilded funerary masks, 40 statues of Ptah Sokar, a prominent god of Saqqara (some with gilded parts), and two wooden statues of a person named Phnomus.
During the event announcing the discovery, archaeologists opened a coffin and carried out an X-ray of the mummy within. According to Mostafa Waziri, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, the X-ray showed that the mummified man was in general good health during his lifetime, between 165cm and 175cm tall, and between 40 and 45 years of age when he died.
The 59 coffins announced in October were transferred to the Grand Egyptian Museum, while the most recent discoveries will be divided between the Grand Egyptian Museum, the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation, the New Administrative Capital Museum, and the Egyptian Museum of Tahrir.
Saqqara is home to many burials, including the Step Pyramid of Djoser. The particular part of the site where these coffins were found is the ‘cemetery of senior statesmen’. In this area, cats, birds, and other animals have been discovered, as has the tomb of a 5th Dynasty priest named Wahtye, which has recently gained renewed attention as the subject of the Netflix documentary Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb.