Egypt opens sarcophagus of 3000-year-old mummy

Kane Khanh | Archeaology
October 19, 2023

Luxor: Egyptian authorities on Saturday unveiled a well-preserved mummy of a woman inside a previously unopened coffin in Luxor in southern Egypt, dating back to more than 3000 years.

The sarcophagus was one of two found this month by a French-led mission in the northern area of El-Asasef, a necropolis on the western bank of the Nile.

Egyptian archaeologists examine the cover of an intact sarcophagus, inside Tomb TT33 in Luxor, 700 kilometres south of Cairo.CREDIT:RPA
The first one had been opened earlier and examined by Egyptian antiquities officials.

“One sarcophagus was rishi-style, which dates back to the 17th dynasty, while the other sarcophagus was from the 18th dynasty,” Minister of Antiquities Khaled Al Anani said.

“The two tombs were present with their mummies inside.”

The 18th dynasty dates back to the 13th century BC, a period noted for some of the best-known pharaohs, including Tutankhamun and Ramses II.

It was the first known time that authorities had opened a previously unopened sarcophagus before international media.

Earlier in the day, authorities also revealed in the same area the tomb of the overseer of the mummification shrine, who was identified as Thaw-Irkhet-if.

The tomb contained five coloured masks and about 1000 Shabti statuettes – the miniature figurines of servants to serve the dead in the afterlife.

Three-hundred cubic meters of rubble were removed over five months to uncover the tomb, which contained coloured ceiling paintings depicting the owner and his family.

The tomb, which also contains mummies, skeletons and skulls, dates back to the middle-kingdom almost 4000 years ago, but was reused during the late period.

Ancient Egyptians mummified humans to preserve their bodies for the afterlife, while animal mummies were used as religious offerings.

The tomb was found by an archaeological mission affiliated with the University of Strasbourg.

Once the ancient capital of Egypt, Luxor contains the largest and best-preserved temples from the time of the pharaohs.

The nearby Valley of the Kings is famous as the site of the tomb of Tutankhamun, discovered in 1922.

Egypt has revealed more than a dozen ancient discoveries since the beginning of this year.

The country hopes these discoveries will brighten its image abroad and revive interest among travellers who once flocked to its iconic pharaonic temples and pyramids but who have shunned the country since its 2011 political uprising.