Archaeologists in Egypt discover ancient mummification workshop
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Archaeologists in Egypt discover ancient mummification workshop

Alongside a trove of artifacts, archaeologists find an embalmer’s cachette they believe will reveal more about the oils used in mummification 2,500 years ago

  • A recently discovered gilded mummy mask is displayed after it was found in a disturbed context of the hall way of a burial chamber dating back some 2,500 years at an ancient necropolis near Egypt's famed pyramids in Saqqara, Giza, Saturday, July 14, 2018. (AP/Amr Nabil)
    A recently discovered gilded mummy mask is displayed after it was found in a disturbed context of the hall way of a burial chamber dating back some 2,500 years at an ancient necropolis near Egypt's famed pyramids in Saqqara, Giza, Saturday, July 14, 2018. (AP/Amr Nabil)
  • Reporters film recently discovered gilded mummy mask found in a disturbed context of the hall way of a burial chamber dating back some 2,500 years at an ancient necropolis near Egypt's famed pyramids in Saqqara, Giza, Saturday, July 14, 2018. (AP/Amr Nabil)
    Reporters film recently discovered gilded mummy mask found in a disturbed context of the hall way of a burial chamber dating back some 2,500 years at an ancient necropolis near Egypt's famed pyramids in Saqqara, Giza, Saturday, July 14, 2018. (AP/Amr Nabil)
  • A photographer films a gilded silver mummy mask found on the face of the mummy of the second priest of Mut, as it is displayed during a press conference in front of the step pyramid of Saqqara, in Giza, Saturday, July 14, 2018. (AP/Amr Nabil)
    A photographer films a gilded silver mummy mask found on the face of the mummy of the second priest of Mut, as it is displayed during a press conference in front of the step pyramid of Saqqara, in Giza, Saturday, July 14, 2018. (AP/Amr Nabil)
  • Recently discovered mummies are seen at a mummification workshop dating back some 2,500 years at an ancient necropolis near Egypt's famed pyramids in Saqqara, Giza, Saturday, July 14, 2018. (AP/Amr Nabil)
    Recently discovered mummies are seen at a mummification workshop dating back some 2,500 years at an ancient necropolis near Egypt's famed pyramids in Saqqara, Giza, Saturday, July 14, 2018. (AP/Amr Nabil)
  • Reporters film recently discovered gilded mummy mask found in a disturbed context of the hall way of a burial chamber dating back some 2,500 years at an ancient necropolis near Egypt's famed pyramids in Saqqara, Giza, Saturday, July 14, 2018. (AP/Amr Nabil)
    Reporters film recently discovered gilded mummy mask found in a disturbed context of the hall way of a burial chamber dating back some 2,500 years at an ancient necropolis near Egypt's famed pyramids in Saqqara, Giza, Saturday, July 14, 2018. (AP/Amr Nabil)
  • A photographer films a gilded silver mummy mask found on the face of the mummy of the second priest of Mut, as it is displayed during a press conference in front of the step pyramid of Saqqara, in Giza, Saturday, July 14, 2018. (AP/Amr Nabil)
    A photographer films a gilded silver mummy mask found on the face of the mummy of the second priest of Mut, as it is displayed during a press conference in front of the step pyramid of Saqqara, in Giza, Saturday, July 14, 2018. (AP/Amr Nabil)

CAIRO — Archaeologists in Egypt stumbled upon a new discovery dating back to more than 2,500 years ago near Egypt’s famed pyramids at an ancient necropolis south of Cairo.

The discovery, which includes a mummification workshop and a shaft, used as a communal burial place, is located at the vast Saqqara necropolis, which is part of the Memphis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Memphis, the first capital of ancient Egypt, and its large necropolis are home to a wide range of temples and tombs as well as the three pyramids of Giza.

The latest find, announced at a press conference Saturday, belongs to the Saite-Persian Period, from 664-404 BC The site, which lies south of Unas pyramid, was last excavated more than 100 years ago, in 1900.

Among the artifacts found were a gilded silver mummy mask, fragments of mummy cartonnages, canopic cylindrical jars and marl clay and faience cups. Many of them will be displayed in the under-construction Grand Egyptian Museum, the first phase of which is expected to be inaugurated later this year.

Down the 30-meter-deep shaft lie several mummies, wooden coffins, and sarcophagi. The shaft is comprised of burial chambers carved into the bedrock lining the sides of two hallways.

In the mummification workshop, an embalmer’s cachette was found that archaeologists believe will reveal more about the oils used in the mummification process in the 26th Dynasty.

“We are in front of a goldmine of information about the chemical composition of these oils,” archaeologist Ramadan Hussein said at the press conference.

“It’s only the beginning,” added Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani. He told reporters that the sites will likely yield more discoveries after further excavation.

Egypt has gone at great lengths to revive its vital tourism industry, still reeling from the political turmoil that followed a 2011 popular uprising. It hopes such discoveries, along with the inauguration of the museum at the Giza plateau, will help encourage more tourists to visit.

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