In a necropolis south of Cairo, close to the Pyramids of Giza, Archaeologists discovered a mummy workshop that dates back more than 2500 years.
The newest discovery was announced at a news conference on Saturday. The precise location is the Saqqara Necropolis in Memphis (the capital of Ancient Egypt), south of the Unas Pyramid. The discovery was of a mummification workshop, a shaft, and was used as a communal burial place.
The site was last excavated more than 100 years ago, and the discovery is from the Saite-Persian period (from 664 to 404 BC). This particular discovery holds immense importance in understanding the mummification process, as within the workshop and shaft uncovered, an embalmer’s cachette was found. The cachette includes a large collection of pottery vessels, bowls and measuring cups. This trove uncovered is said to be able to reveal more information about the oils used in the mummification process, which dates back to the 26th dynasty.
Ramadan Hussein, who was awarded a prestigious grant from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) for the conservation, documentation and publication of the Saite-Persian tombs in Saqqara worth about 412,000 Euros, leads the project. When talking about the importance of this discovery, Ramadan said that “We are in front of a gold mine of information about the chemical composition of these oils,”
Other precious artifacts found, which are to be displayed in the under-construction Grand Egyptian Museum, are fragments of mummy cartonnages, canopic cylindrical jars as well as marl clay and faience cups. The most notable artifact found though, is a gilded silver mask, which was found on the face of a mummy in a damaged wooden coffin. The mask is the first to be discovered since 1939, and is speculated to have belonged to an ancient priest.
Hussein also speaking of the mask mentioned that, “the finding of this mask could be called a sensation,” he went on to add that the mask was hugely significant since “very few masks of precious metals have been preserved to the present day because the tombs of most Ancient Egyptian dignitaries were looted in ancient times.”
Within the shaft uncovered, there lies a burial chamber carved into bedrock along with several mummies, wooden coffins and sarcophagi. While speaking to the press regarding the discovery, Minister of Antiquities Khaled al-Anani said that “It’s only the beginning,” adding that the discovery was the first of many. We will have to wait and see what other exciting discoveries await us.