For the sixth consecutive year, the Egyptian archaeological mission has succeeded in uncovering:
The largest and most complete workshops for mummification, both human and animal, are from the 30th Dynasty and the Ptolemaic period.
Mr. Ahmed Issa: The Ministry is committed to developing museums and archaeological sites in Egypt while preserving their identity and distinctive character, which contributes to improving the services provided to visitors and providing them with a unique tourist experience.
The Minister of Tourism and Antiquities opened the press conference by delivering a welcoming speech, expressing his happiness to be present in the Saqqara archaeological site, which is considered one of the most important parts of the registered UNESCO World Heritage-listed necropolis of Memphis. It also serves as an open-air museum that showcases a significant aspect of ancient Egyptian history, hosting the oldest stone structure in human history, the Step Pyramid of Djoser, as well as numerous pyramids of kings and queens.
He highlighted the ongoing efforts of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, represented by the Supreme Council of Antiquities, to improve and enhance the quality of tourism services provided in Saqqara through partnerships with the private sector. The aim is to offer both Egyptians and foreigners a distinguished tourism experience. This aligns with the key objectives of the National Tourism Development Strategy in Egypt, which aims to achieve rapid annual growth of 25% to 30% in the tourism industry. This involves facilitating greater access to Egyptian tourist destinations, doubling the number of airline seats to Egypt in cooperation with the Ministry of Civil Aviation, encouraging and improving the investment climate, and enhancing the tourist experience at Egyptian destinations.
The minister emphasized the ministry's role as an organizer, supervisor, and manager of public spending programs in developing museums and archaeological sites in Egypt while preserving their identity and distinctive character. This contributes to improving the services provided to visitors and offering them a unique tourism experience.
The Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities: I am proud of the mission's success in finding these remarkable discoveries in Saqqara for the sixth consecutive year.
It is worth mentioning that the Egyptian archaeological mission began its work at the site of the Bubasteion in 2018. They succeeded in uncovering a unique tomb of a priest from the Fifth Dynasty named "Wahaty," in addition to seven rock-cut tombs, three of which belong to the modern state and four to the ancient state, along with a funerary facade from the ancient state.
In 2019, a sanctuary for sacred animals was discovered, containing over a thousand faience figurines, dozens of wooden cat statues, cat mummies, wooden statues, and mummies of various animals.
The mission also achieved success in 2020 by uncovering over 100 sealed wooden coffins from the Late Period inside burial shafts, 40 statues of the deity Sekhmet in the Sakkara necropolis, with gilded parts, and 20 wooden boxes dedicated to the god Horus. This discovery was classified as one of the top ten archaeological discoveries of 2020 and received great attention according to the American magazine Archaeology.
During the previous excavation season, the mission managed to discover the first and largest cache of bronze statues at the Bubasteion in Sakkara, containing 150 ancient Egyptian bronze statues, in addition to 250 closed-colored wooden coffins containing mummies.
The mission is scheduled to continue its work at the site during the upcoming excavation seasons in an attempt to uncover more secrets and mysteries of this area.
In a global press conference, Mr. Ahmed Issa, the Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, announced a new archaeological discovery in the Saqqara archaeological area. The Egyptian archaeological mission, headed by Dr. Mustafa Waziri, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, succeeded in finding, for the first time, the largest and most complete workshops for mummification, one for humans and the other for animals, in addition to two tombs and a number of artifacts. This took place during the completion of the excavation works of the mission at the cemetery of the Sacred Animals (Bubasteion) in the Saqqara archaeological area, for the sixth consecutive year.
The ceremony announcing the discovery was attended by Major General Ahmed Rashid, the Governor of Giza, Dr. Mustafa Waziri, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, 47 ambassadors from foreign countries in Cairo and their spouses, directors of foreign institutes in Cairo, as well as several officials from the ministry, the Supreme Council of Antiquities, and over 200 news agencies, Egyptian, Arab, and international newspapers.
Mr. Ahmed Issa extends his greetings and gratitude to the members of the Egyptian archaeological mission and the mission's leader, as well as to all the staff of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, for the great effort they exert in uncovering such important discoveries. He also acknowledges their role in preserving Egyptian antiquities, which he witnessed himself last month during his visit to the excavation site in Saqqara. He inspected the excavation and restoration works and met with the team that succeeded in making this discovery and other significant archaeological findings, which made headlines in local and international media and contributed to the promotion of tourism in Egypt, especially cultural tourism. He notes that there are many tourists around the world who have a great passion for ancient Egyptian civilization, as confirmed by the results of a recent marketing study, where tourists seeking to explore culture and antiquities were among the most interested in visiting Egyptian tourist destinations.
He adds that Saqqara and Egypt will not cease to reveal their secrets, as there are many upcoming archaeological discoveries. Dr. Mustafa Waziri, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities and the mission's leader explains that the discovered workshops date back to the late 30th Dynasty and the beginning of the Ptolemaic period. He further reveals that the mission also uncovered two tombs from the Old and Middle Kingdoms, as well as a number of artifacts. He emphasizes that the mission has made many important archaeological discoveries since its inception at the site in 2018, expressing his pride in the success of the dedicated Egyptian team of archaeologists and restorers from the Supreme Council of Antiquities for the sixth consecutive year with this important discovery.
He elaborates that the discovered human mummification workshop is a rectangular brick building divided into several chambers containing two mummification beds. The dimensions of the bed are approximately two meters in length, one meter in width, and 50 centimeters in height. It consists of several stone blocks covered with a layer of plaster and has sloping sides ending with a drain. Inside the workshop, a large number of pottery vessels were discovered, including vessels resembling the canopic jars, which were found in all the chambers and were likely used in the embalming process. Additionally, some tools, weathering vessels, a significant amount of linen, and black resin used in mummification were found, indicating that mummification procedures were carried out on humans in that workshop.
As for the animal mummification workshop, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities stated that it is a rectangular building made of mud bricks with a central entrance and a limestone floor inside. It is divided into several rooms and halls. Inside, a large number of pottery vessels and various animal burials of different shapes and sizes were found, along with some tools related to animal mummification, such as linen and bronze instruments.
The workshop contains five limestone beds, which are recessed in the floor and relatively different from the beds found in the human mummification workshop. The study of the archaeological finds discovered in this workshop indicates that it was likely used for mummifying sacred animals associated with the goddess Bastet.
Mr. Sabri Farag, the General Director of the Saqqara Antiquities Area and the supervisor of the excavations, mentioned that the mission also succeeded in uncovering two tombs. The first belongs to a person named "Ni-Hes-Ba," who was an official during the Old Kingdom's Fifth Dynasty (around 2400 BCE) and held various religious and administrative titles, including the Chief of the Southern Ten, Director of the Scribes, and Priest of the gods Horus and Ma'at, as well as being responsible for the legal aspects of the canal and channel construction. The second tomb belongs to a person named "Menkheper" from the New Kingdom's Eighteenth Dynasty (1400 BCE), who held the title of Priest of the goddess Qadesh, a foreign deity of Canaanite origin from the region of Syria, worshipped in the city of Qadesh and later adopted in Egypt during the Eighteenth Dynasty. The deity was associated with fertility and the ruler of the stars.
Dr. Mohamed Youssef, the director of the area, described the tomb of "Ni-Hes-Ba" as a rectangular mastaba, with the entrance to the burial chamber located in the southeastern corner. The entrance is adorned with carved stone facades on both sides depicting scenes of the tomb's owner and his wife, "Taba-Em-Nefert." The facade is topped with hieroglyphic inscriptions bearing the name and titles of the tomb's owner and his wife, and below that, scenes of offering bearers. The entrance leads to a hall with its walls adorned with scenes of daily life, forests, agriculture, and fishing. In the middle of the west wall of the hall, there is a false door with funerary scenes on its sides, as well as lists of offerings and animal sacrifices, and scenes of a musical performance.
As for the layout of the tomb of "Menkheper," Professor Mohamed El-Saiedy, the mission director, indicated that it is a rock-cut tomb, mostly carved into the rock cliff, with a partially built section made of limestone. It consists of a gateway built from limestone, comprising two shoulders and engraved lintels bearing the names and titles of the tomb's owner, "Menkheper," his wife, and his son. Following the gateway is a square-shaped hall with remnants of plaster on its walls, depicting scenes of the tomb's owner and his wife sitting in front of an offering table.
The mission discovered a niche in the northern part of the western wall, approximately 130 cm high, 70 cm deep, and 50 cm wide. Inside the niche, a large alabaster statue was found, measuring about one meter in height. The statue depicts the tomb's owner sitting on a chair, wearing a wig and holding a lotus flower in his left hand against his chest. His right hand is extended on his right thigh, and he wears a long robe that extends to his legs. There are four royal cartouches engraved on his chest and shoulders, reading: Taharqa III and IV.
The professor added that there are three vertical lines of blue-colored hieroglyphic inscriptions on the statue's body, bearing the name and titles of the tomb's owner. They also found a limestone funerary stela with inscriptions and parts of a shroud bearing the name of the tomb's owner.
The mission managed to uncover several archaeological finds, including a collection of stone statues belonging to a person named "Ni-su-Hanu" and his wife, wooden and stone statues of a person named "Shepses Ka" from the Fifth Dynasty, a stone statue of his wife, two wooden statues of a lady named "Shepseska," a wooden coffin in the shape of a human figure from the end of the New Kingdom and the beginning of the Third Intermediate Period, a collection of offering tables, false doors, amulets made of faience and stones, ushabti figurines, parts of a shroud, bronze pieces, jewelry, clay seals, a collection of pottery vessels and tools used in the mummification workshop, a collection of pottery vessels containing ancient Egyptian cheese (goat cheese) from 600 BCE, and wooden statues of the deity Ptah-Sokar-Osiris and colored wooden naos figurines.
At the end of his speech, Mr. Ahmed Issa extended his greetings and gratitude to the members of the Egyptian archaeological mission, the mission's head, and all the employees of the Supreme Council of Antiquities for their significant efforts in making such important discoveries. He personally witnessed their role in preserving Egyptian antiquities during his visit to the excavation site in Saqqara last month. He witnessed their excavation and restoration work and met with the team that succeeded in making this discovery and other important archaeological findings that made headlines in local and international media. These discoveries have contributed to promoting tourism in Egypt, especially cultural tourism. He acknowledged that there are many tourists around the world who have a great passion for ancient Egyptian civilization, as confirmed by the results of a recent marketing study. The segment of tourists seeking to explore culture and antiquities is among the most interested in visiting Egyptian tourist destinations.
He added that Saqqara and Egypt will not cease to reveal their secrets, as there are many upcoming archaeological discoveries.
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