At least 40 limestone sarcophagi that held mummified burials were discovered in the cemetery. One of them is pictured here.

Mummified priests found in 2,300-year-old cemetery in Egypt’s West Nile River

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Mummified priests found in 2,300-year-old cemetery in Egypt’s West Nile River:

Archaeologists have found a 2,300-year-old underground cemetery that holds burials of the mummified remains of priests who worshipped the god Thoth.

One priest was discovered wearing an amulet that said “Happy New Year” in Egyptian hieroglyphics.

In ancient Egypt, priests presided over religious ceremonies and rituals dedicated to the god or goddes they worshipped.

Found at the ancient Egyptian site of Tuna el-Gebel, to the west of the Nile River, the cemetery contains numerous burial shafts, and archaeologist expect the excavation will take about five years to complete, said Egyptian antiquities minister Khaled El-Enany during a press conference.

“We found at least 40 sarcophagi,” in addition to a large amount of pottery, jewelry, ‘lucky charms’ [artifacts meant to bring good luck] and over 1,000 shabti figurines, El-Enany said.

Shabti figurines are often found in ancient Egyptian burial and were meant to do the work of the deceased in the afterlife, Egyptologists generally believe.

Though archaeologist doesn’t know the identities of all the deceased, they know at least some of the burials belong to priests who worshipped Thoth, the god who ancient Egyptians believed was the inventor of writing.

One mummy, thought to be a high priest of Thoth, was discovered with an inscription saying that his name is “Djehuty-Irdy-Es,” the antiquities ministry said in a statement. His mummy was decorated with a bronze collar in the shape of the Egyptian sky goddess Nut.

Numerous blue and red beads also decorated his mummy; inside the coffin, archaeologist also found 4 amulets, one of which was engraved with Egyptian hieroglyphics that translate to “Happy New Year.”

The date of the ancient Egyptian New Year varied, but around 2,300 years ago, it often took place in July, many scholars believes.

Archaeologist from Cairo University has been excavating the many cemeteries at Tuna el-Gebel for about 80 years.

In 2017, they found another cemetery at the site that contained a series of underground catacombs. Both the 2017 and 2018 excavations were led by Mostafa Waziri, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

 

Source: history101

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P. Natasha Covers Classical Archaeology news and has been with Histecho since 2017. She has a Master's degree in MA Archaeology from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting program. A California native, she also holds a Bachelor of science in molecular biology and a Master of Science in biology from the University of California, San Diego.

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