Archaeologists Uncover 30 Ancient Coffins of Egyptian Priest Mummies
Sat, April 10, 2021

Archaeologists Uncover 30 Ancient Coffins of Egyptian Priest Mummies

In Egypt, the archeological discoveries seemingly never end. Every year, we encounter stories about new discoveries of mummies or ancient tombs in the country / Photo by: Openfinal via Shutterstock

 

In Egypt, the archeological discoveries seemingly never end. Every year, we encounter stories about new discoveries of mummies or ancient tombs in the country. Ancient Egypt, one of history’s greatest civilizations, maybe long gone but evidence of its existence is very much everywhere. Since the major discoveries such as the lavish tomb of King Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings and the Rosetta Stone were made, they have opened the doors for our further understanding of Ancient Egypt’s mysteries. 

The preserved mummies of ancient Egyptians remain the most fascinating discovery in the country. They still cause a widespread fascination for scholars, experts, and the public who visit Egyptology collections in public museums. According to History, the leading destination for entertaining hit series and cinematic drama events, the Egyptian mummification process aims to preserve as much skin as possible. The process was a lot easier in Egypt because it had an arid climate. 

The mummification process for royalty and the wealthy often included washing the body, removing all organs except the heart and placing them in jars, packing the body and organs in salt to remove moisture, embalming the body with resins and essential oils such as myrrh, cassia, juniper oil, and cedar oil, and wrapping the embalmed corpse in several layers of linen. While it was shown that mummification can be conducted in all ancient Egyptians, the process wasn’t elaborate for the poor. 

For the most part, the dead bodies of poor ancient Egyptians were simply filled with juniper oil to dissolve their organs before burial. Meanwhile, the mummies of pharaohs and other important figures during that time were buried in tombs filled with vehicles, tools, food, wine, perfume, and household items. Some pharaohs were even buried with pets and servants.

Why Did Ancient Egyptians Care So Much About Mummification?

The ancient Egyptians mummified their dead because they believed that the physical body would be important in the next life. Mummification during the Old Kingdom of Egypt had become a standard practice in handling the deceased and mortuary rituals. The tradition was also attributed to the central belief in a life after death and the possibility of the resurrection of the dead. 

According to the Ancient History Encyclopedia, an organization that publishes and maintains articles, images, videos, podcasts, and interactive educational tools related to ancient history, the tradition and rituals on mummification were largely derived from the cult of Osiris that had already become a popular god. 

“The cult of Osiris began to exert influence on the mortuary rituals and the ideals of contemplating death as a "gateway into eternity." This deity, having assumed the cultic powers and rituals of other gods of the necropolis, or cemetery sites, offered human beings salvation, resurrection, and eternal bliss,” Egyptologist Margaret Bunson said. 

Also, ancient Egyptians believed that the mummified body was the home for the soul or spirit. Thus, if the body was destroyed, the spirit might be lost. Unfortunately, many of the Egyptian mummies have been destroyed over the past thousands of years. Some were ground into a powder to make magical potions, some were burned for fuel, and some were destroyed by treasure hunters.

The ancient Egyptians mummified their dead because they believed that the physical body would be important in the next life / Photo by: Andrea Izzotti via Shutterstock

 

3,000-Year-Old Egyptian Mummies Were Found

Last October, archaeologists uncovered 30 pristine wood coffins dating back 3,000 years in Luxor at El-Assasif cemetery. The coffins contained perfectly intact mummies, which archaeologists considered one of the biggest and most important discoveries of the past few years. The Antiquities Ministry stated that the coffins have colorful paintings and full inscriptions. The coffins, which are still closed "as the ancient Egyptians left them,” were stacked in two rows, less than three feet underground.

According to Live Science, a science news website that features groundbreaking developments in science, space, technology, health, the environment, our culture, and history, the mummies were established to be ancient Egyptian priests. They consisted of 23 adult males, five adult females, and two children from Ancient Egypt. Khaled al-Anani, Egypt's Minister of Antiquities, stated that the coffins were "exceptionally painted and preserved.” 

Also, the experts stated that this is the first cache of coffins to be discovered by an Egyptian mission after long years of foreign-led archeological digs. "The last one was in 1891, [led by] foreigners, 1881, [also] foreigners. But...2019 is an Egyptian discovery. This is an indescribable feeling, I swear to God,” Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said. 

According to CNN, an American news-based pay television channel owned by AT&T's WarnerMedia, the genders of the mummies were identified by the shape of the hands on the coffin, although the mummies were found completely wrapped in cloth. Coffins that were carved with hands balled into fists were males, while those carved with the hands open meant they were females. 

Another fascinating thing about the coffins is that they have intricate carvings and designs. Some of these include a series of spells that enabled the soul to navigate the afterlife, hieroglyphics and scenes from the Book of the Dead, and Egyptian deities. Even the names of the dead were also carved onto some of the coffins. 

This discovery would help expand the existing information we have about the ancient Egyptians and their culture around life and death. This also shows how these people respected the dead regardless of gender or age. “This is unprecedented. Up until now, everything we knew about the (Luxor region) came from the tombs themselves, but this new discovery will allow us to shed a light on the tools and techniques used to produce the royal coffins and the furniture placed in the tombs,” excavation leader Zahi Hawass said.