A cache of ancient burial shafts containing hundreds of wooden coffins dating back to the New Kingdom are among a new batch of major discoveries found at Egypt’s Saqqara archaeological site.
Coffins, funerary masks and a funeral temple were discovered during an archeological mission at Saqqara, a vast necropolis about 32 kilometers (20 miles) south of Cairo, which experts claim will “rewrite” the history of the region.
Experts on Saturday announced they had discovered the funeral temple of Queen Nearit – wife of King Teti, the first king of the sixth dynasty of the old kingdom – state news Al-Ahram reported, quoting the Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.
Three mud-brick warehouses – built to store provisions, offerings and tools used in the queen’s tomb – were also discovered attached to the temple.
Some 52 burial shafts, which were between 10-12 meters deep and contained hundreds of wooden coffins dating back to the New Kingdom period, were also discovered. The discovery marks the first time that coffins dating back 3,000 years have been found in the Saqqara region, Al-Ahram said.
Scenes of gods worshiped during the period and excerpts from the Book of the Dead, believed to help the dead to pass into the other world, were found painted on the surface of the coffins, with experts noting that this latest find at the ancient site confirms that Saqqara was used as a burial site during the New Kingdom period – between the 16th and the 11th century BC – and not just during the Late Period.
A cache of 50 anthropoid wooden coffins, in good condition, was also discovered by archeologists, along with wooden funerary masks, a shrine dedicated to the god Anubis, bird shaped artifacts and a bronze axe.
The latest discoveries will rewrite the history of Saqqara during the New Kingdom and assert the importance of the worship of King Teti during the 19th Dynasty of the New Kingdom, Zahi Hawass, the head of the Egyptian archaeological mission said, according to the news site.
The new finds “will rewrite the history of this region, especially during the 18th and 19th dynasties of the New Kingdom, during which King Teti was worshiped, and the citizens at that time were buried around his pyramid,” the statement added.