Thirty sarcophagi painted in wood over 3,000 years old and in excellent condition were unveiled on Saturday after their discovery at Assasif in the Valley of the Kings near Luxor, in the south of Egypt. "This is the first discovery in Assasif by an Egyptian team of archaeologists, conservatives and workers," Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa Waziri told a press conference in Luxor.
The sarcophagi were discovered last week at Assasif, a necropolis on the west bank of the Nile, and pictures leaked even before the official announcement, which was made Saturday in front of the temple of Queen Hatshepsut.
The thirty pieces of painted wood, which served as coffins for men, women and children, were found one meter underground, stacked one above the other in two rows. These sarcophagi belong to an important family of priests.
Discoveries that revive tourism
Mostafa Waziri pointed out that nineteenth-century excavations by Westerners focused on the tombs of kings, while recent Egyptian excavations revealed a "hiding place for priests". The thirty found objects date from the 22nd Dynasty, founded more than 3,000 years ago, in the tenth century BC.
On a yellow background, there are red or green keys, as well as black lines. Hieroglyphs, various Egyptian deities, birds, snakes or lotus flowers, are also represented. "We just did a few basic repairs on these coffins in very good condition. They are considered in good condition because there was no human settlement on the site, told AFP Salah Abdel-Galial, a local restaurateur of the Ministry of Antiquities, showing one of the pieces.
According to the Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany, important discoveries, such as the one presented on Saturday, slowed down after the 2011 popular uprising that drove Hosni Mubarak out of power.
For several years, the Egyptian authorities have regularly announced archaeological discoveries, with the aim, among other things, of boosting tourism, undermined by political instability and attacks in the country since the 2011 revolution.
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