Archaeologists in Gaza, Egypt, have discovered hundreds of tombs in interconnected underground tunnels containing 300 mummies, in addition to a pyramid commemorating a previously unknown queen.
The science and other stuff to know
The new discoveries, made at Saqqara archeological site near Giza, Egypt, are believed to be from the New Kingdom period, dating between 1550 and 1070 B.C. Alongside pyramids, archaeologists discovered “300 beautiful coffins” containing well-preserved mummies in surprisingly good condition.
Along with the coffins and mummies, archeologists also unearthed plenty of artifacts, including ceramic amulets and papyrus documents. Many of these finds relate to King Teti (Tutankhamun) who was the founder of the Sixth Dynasty of ancient Egypt, according to the researchers.
The team also noted that the tombs are located in close proximity to King Tut’s tomb. This is likely because he was worshipped as a god (between the 11th and 6th century B.C.) over 1,000 years after his death in 2181 B.C.
“Teti was worshipped as a god in the New Kingdom period. So people wanted to be buried near him,” Zahi Hawass, an Egyptologist who is working on the dig, said in a statement to NBC News. “The coffins have individual faces, each one unique, distinguishing between men and women. They are all decorated with scenes from the Book of the Dead (an ancient Egypt funerary text). Each coffin also has the name of the deceased.”
Additionally, archaeologists found a pyramid identifying a previously unknown Egyptian queen.
“We have since discovered that her name was Neith and she had never before been known from the historical record,” Hawass said. “It is amazing to literally rewrite what we know of history, adding a new queen to our records.”
The well-preserved nature of the mummies suggests that in the New Kingdom, ancient Egyptians had mastered the mummification process. That includes the evolution of coffins, as some coffins had two lids and another had a mask of a woman made of solid gold.
The coffins and antiquities unearthed at the site will be displayed in the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza, Hawass said. Archaeologists will study the mummies to determine their ages at death, diseases they might have carried, and what killed them.