The Egyptian mission working in the Saqqara antiquities area next to the pyramid of King Teti, the first king of the Sixth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom, announced Saturday important archaeological discoveries dating back to the old and New Kingdoms.
The mission is headed by Dr. Zahi Hawass, who works in cooperation with the Ministry of Antiquities and Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
These discoveries 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.
Mostafa El-Feki, Director of the Bibliotheca Alexandria, said that the Zahi Hawass Center for Egyptology has been practicing its activities successfully since its establishment in 2018.
Today, El Feki expressed his happiness to participate in the ceremony announcing the archaeological discovery of the center, in Saqqara, which is a new breakthrough in the process of discovering Pharoahs antiquities in this region.
Hawass stressed that the mission had discovered the funerary temple of Queen Nearit, the mother of King Teti, part of which was already uncovered in the years prior.
The mission also found three mud-brick warehouses attached to the temple in the southeastern side - these stores were built to store temple provisions, offerings and tools that were used in the queen’s tomb.
Among the most important discoveries of the mission also at the site was the unveiling of 52 burial shafts, that reach to 10-12 meters deep, and inside these shafts hundreds of wooden coffins dating back to the New Kingdom were uncovered. This is the first time that coffins dating back 3,000 years have been found in the Saqqara region.
These coffins are wooden and anthropoid, and are many scenes of the gods that were worshiped during this period were represented on the surface of the coffins, in addition to various excerpts from the Book of the Dead that help the deceased to pass through the journey of the other world.
The mission also succeeded in discovering a cache of anthropoid wooden coffins. Inside this shaft, 50 coffins were found in good condition.
The mission found inside the wells large numbers of archaeological artifacts and large numbers of statues in the form of deities such as the god Osir and Ptah Sukur Uzir, in addition to a unique discovery, where the mission found a four-meter-length papyrus and one meter in width representing Chapter 17 of the Book of the Dead, on which the name of its owner is recorded, which is (Bu-Khaa-Af).
The same name was found recorded on four orchid statues; a wooden coffin was also found on the human body of the same person, and many beautiful shabty statues made of wood, stone and vines were found. It dates back to the era of the New Kingdom.
The discoveries found in the shaft are considered one of the most important findings uncovered in the Saqqara region.
The mission also found many wooden funerary masks as well as a shrine dedicated to god Anubis (Guardian of the Cemetery) and beautiful statues of Anubis, as well as many games that the deceased used to play in the other world, such as the game (Senet), which is similar to the modern chess, as well as the (Twenty) game with the name of the player recorded.
Many artifacts were found that represent birds such as geese, as well as a magnificent bronze ax, indicating that its owner was one of the army leaders during the New Kingdom.
The upper part of the stelae represents the deceased and his wife in an adoration gesture in front of god Osiris, while the lower part represents the deceased sitting and behind him his wife seated on a chair. Below the chair of the wife there is one of their daughters sitting on her legs and smelling the lotus flower, and above her head is the ointment flask.
In front of the man and his wife we see six of their daughters and sons, who were depicted in two registers, the upper one for seated daughters smelling the lotus flowers and above their heads are the ointment flasks, and the lower one for standing sons.
The mission also found impressive quantities of pottery dating back to the New Kingdom, including pottery that gives us evidence about the commercial relations between Egypt and Crete, Syria, Palestine.
This discovery confirmed the existence of many workshops that produced these coffins, which were bought by the locals, as well as mummification workshops.
The mission studied the mummy of a woman and determined that this woman suffered from a chronic disease known as "Mediterranean fever" or "swine fever", a disease that comes from direct contact with animals and leads to an abscess in the liver.
Dr. Sahar Selim, a professor of radiology at Qasr al-Aini, conducted studies on mummies using X-ray, and determined the causes of death and the age of the deceased on death, as well as studying a mummy for a young child.
Hawass confirmed that this discovery is considered the most important archaeological discovery during the current year and will make Saqqara, along with other discoveries, an important tourist and cultural destination. It will also rewrite the history of Saqqara during the New Kingdom, in addition to confirming the importance of the worship of King Teti during the 19th Dynasty of the New Kingdom.3
Ali Abu Dashish contributed to this report