An Egyptian sarcophagus that has laid peacefully for thousands of years has been discovered, emerging from beneath the sands in Cairo. Archaeologists are describing the event as a “dream discovery.”
Discovered by Ola El Aguizy, an emeritus professor of the faculty of archaeology at Cairo University, there is now more information to look into regarding those who ruled Egypt after Tutankhamun.
The granite sarcophagus is covered in inscriptions dedicated to Ptah-em-wia, King Ramses II’s head of treasury. Ramses II was Egypt’s mightiest pharaoh.
Last year, Al Aguizy uncovered Ptah-em-wia’s tomb, surface-level, now discovering his underground burial chamber with the sarcophagus.
In the tomb’s courtyard at the center, the professor’s team detected the top of an eight-meter-deep vertical shaft which suggested that there would be a passage to a burial chamber.
It took a week to remove the sand to get to the bottom of the shaft, using a bucket attached to a rope winch. After that, El Aguizy squeezed herself into the bucket and slowly descended down to the bottom.
The scene was captured by National Geographic, as they finalized the latest excavation season for a documentary series of eight parts: the Lost Treasures of Egypt, which will begin airing on October 2.
“The discovery of this sarcophagus in its original place in the burial shaft was very exciting because it is the sarcophagus of the owner of the tomb, which is not always the case. Sometimes the sarcophagus is for a different person of a later period, when the tomb was used in later periods. But this time it is not the case,” Al Aguizy told The Observer.
Ptah-em-wia, according to the professor, has hieroglyphs that indicate that he was very close to the king, and that he had “a very important role in the administration of that time”.
“Saqqara is one of the most important cemeteries, for both royals and non-royals, throughout the millennia of Egyptian history. This Egyptian team has added yet another important chapter to the history of the site,” said Peter De Manuelian, a professor of Egyptology at Harvard University. “I’m always pleased to see Egyptian archaeologists making these discoveries.
“There’s a long history of western archaeologists doing this work. So it’s great to see their own discoveries – and the fact that she’s a woman archaeologist, an Egyptian woman archaeologist, is even more welcome.”