ARCHEOLOGY The thirty painted wooden pieces would belong to a dynasty of priests

Thirty painted wooden sarcophagi, more than 3,000 years old and in excellent condition, were unveiled this Saturday after their discovery in Assasif in the Valley of the Kings near Luxor, in southern Egypt.

“This is the first discovery in Assasif by (an Egyptian team) of archaeologists, curators, and workers,” said the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa Waziri at a press conference in Luxor. The sarcophagi were discovered last week in Assasif, a necropolis on the west bank of the Nile, and photos leaked even before the official announcement, which was made on Saturday in front of Queen Hatshepsut’s temple.


Recent excavations have revealed hiding places for priests

The thirty painted wooden pieces – which served as coffins for men, women, and children – were found one meter underground, stacked one on top of the other in two rows. These sarcophagi would belong to an important family of priests.

Mostafa Waziri pointed out that excavations carried out by Westerners in the 19th century had focused on the tombs of kings, while recent Egyptian excavations have revealed a “hiding place for priests”. The thirty objects found date back to the XXIInd Dynasty, founded more than 3,000 years ago, in the 10th century BC.


A site without a human settlement

On a yellow background, red or green touches can be seen, as well as black lines. Hieroglyphs, various Egyptian deities, birds, snakes and lotus flowers are also represented.

“We just did some basic alterations on these coffins in very good condition. They are considered to be in good condition because there was no human “settlement” on the site, Salah Abdel-Galial, a local restorer from the Ministry of Antiquities, explained to AFP by showing one of the rooms.


Discoveries have slowed since 2011

According to Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany, important discoveries, such as the one presented on Saturday, had slowed after the 2011 popular revolt that ousted Hosni Mubarak from power. For several years, the Egyptian authorities have regularly announced archaeological discoveries, with the aim, among other things, of reviving tourism, which has been affected by political instability and attacks in the country since the 2011 revolution.

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