(TMU) — A stunning discovery of 30 ancient wooden coffins has been made along the west bank of the Nile River near Luxor, according to Egyptian archaeologists. The find includes a number of mummies.
The colorful coffins decorated with ornate inscriptions and delicate paintings were discovered in the Asasif Necropolis and are considered the most important finds in over a century, reports the Independent.
The 3,000-year-old coffins remain in “a good condition of preservation, colors and complete inscriptions,” a statement said.
The coffins were for male and female priests and children, and date back to 1,000 B.C. during the rule of the 22nd pharaonic dynasty, said excavation team leader Mostafa Waziri.
Following years of foreign-led archaeological digs, the “distinctive group of 30 colored wooden coffins for men, women and children” is the first significant cache of coffins to be uncovered by an Egyptian mission.
Asasif Cachette: A collection of 30 coffins with mummies of priests and priestesses of Luxor’s deities uncovered. They are 3000 year-old. #Archaeology #Egyptology #Egypte #newspapers #mediaonline #Mummies #Luxor #historyofegypt @ZahiHawass pic.twitter.com/Qwt5ajVoM6
— Ministry of Antiquities-Arab Republic of Egypt (@AntiquitiesOf) October 20, 2019
In comments reported by CNN, Waziri said:
“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.”
The mummies include 23 adult males, five adult females and two children. Waziri said that their gender is distinguishable thanks to the shape of the mummies’ hands. The official added that ancient women were buried with their hands open while men’s hands were balled into fists.
Archaeologist Zahi Hawass noted that coffins belonging to children are an extremely rare occurrence, and the discovery of two is generating tremendous interest “worldwide.”
The coffins had been sealed, stacked atop one another and arranged in two rows standing roughly three feet below the sand. A priest had apparently collected the coffins and hid them away for fear that they would be looted.
The intricate carvings and designs depict Egyptian deities, hieroglyphics, and scenes from the Book fo the Dead that enabled souls to navigate the afterlife.
The inscriptions are outstanding due to the vivid colors that remain perfectly preserved despite being buried for thousands of years. Waziri said that ancient Egyptians used natural colors from stones, such as limestone, red oak, and turquoise, mixed with egg whites.
The coffins will now undergo a process of being restored before they are transferred to a showroom at the newly-constructed Grand Egyptian Museum, which is located next to the great pyramids of Giza, and will be opened next year.
Egypt has announced a series of major new finds in recent years as it struggles to revive its tourism sector, which once attracted travelers from across the world but has declined in recent years as the country has been awash in political and social instability following the 2011 uprising that toppled the U.S.-backed authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak.
Earlier this month, the country unveiled two archaeological discoveries in Luxor including an industrial zone in the West Valley of the city known as the Valley of the Monkeys.