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Archaeologists unearth the largest treasure trove of mummification materials in Egypt

By on March 9, 2022 0
Embalming pots with heads of people and animals found at Abu Sir, Egypt. (photo by Petr Kosarek, Czech Institute of Egyptology/Charles University, Prague; all images courtesy of the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities)

Few human traditions have the same enduring mystique as Egyptian funeral rites. For centuries, scholars have amassed evidence of intricate rituals and lavishly appointed chambers for those buried to live out their afterlife to the best of their abilities, but a recent discovery is about to eclipse them all. This month, Egyptian archaeologists announced finds from a site near Cairo that includes the largest ever-discovered hoard of embalming materials.

As reported by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, the discovery was made by a team of archaeologists from the Czech Institute of Egyptology at Charles University in Prague during the excavation of a deep burial shaft. in the ancient necropolis of Abu Sir. The burial shafts date to the 26th Dynasty of Ancient Egypt, the last to rule the country before the Persian conquest in 525 BCE, and materials found buried in layers in the 14-meter (~46-foot) shaft date back to about 2500 years old. . These include 370 large clay urns containing traces of embalming materials used by priests to treat bodies while they were mummified and buried, the ministry said. the National.

An assortment of canopic jars found at the bottom of the well.
The tree where the embalming vessels were found in Abu Sir.

Along with ashes from a fire that burned near the mummification site, researchers have identified remains of natron, a substance used to dry out corpses for burial, creating the classic preserved appearance of mummies. The find also included vessels with residues of resins, oils and myrrh as well as canopic jars. These jars are an important part of the mummification process and would have contained a set of four organs, each protected by one of the four sons of Horus: Hapy (lungs), Imsety (liver), Duamutef (stomach) and Qebehsenouf (intestinal ).

“What we found were empty canopies, which hadn’t been used yet,” Jiří Janák, a researcher at the Czech Institute of Egyptology, told Radio Prague International. “Interestingly, there were inscriptions on it, including the name of the owner. This is what allowed us to identify the person to whom this deposit belonged. According to hieroglyphs, the pots belonged to a man named Wahibre-Mery-Neith, son of Lady Irturu.

Embalming vessel in the shape of the hieroglyphic symbol for “heart”, used in an embalming ceremony.

“It is probably the largest complex and intact find of its kind from ancient Egypt,” said Mohamed Megahed, deputy head of the archaeological mission. Greek journalist.

Abu Sir means “House of Osiris”, the ancient Egyptian god of death and resurrection, and the necropolis became a major center for the burial of Egyptian royalty during the reign of King Userkaf’s Fifth Dynasty. The site is a major source of archaeological treasures in Egyptian history, but this new discovery is an exceptional find.

“Imagine an area of ​​about two square kilometers (about 1.2 miles),” archaeologist Veronika Dulíková told Radio Prague International. “We have an incredible dealership here with huge potential. We estimate that only about ten percent of the total area has been explored so far. Further excavations are planned during the year.