Egypt displays trove of newly discovered ancient artifacts


CAIRO — Egypt on Monday displayed a trove of ancient artifacts dating back 2,500 years that the country’s antiquities authorities said were recently unearthed at the famed necropolis of Saqqara near Cairo.

The artifacts were showcased at a makeshift exhibit at the feet of the Step Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara, 15 miles southwest of the Egyptian capital.

According to Mostafa Waziri, head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, the find includes 250 painted sarcophagi with well-preserved mummies inside, as well as 150 bronze statues of ancient deities and bronze vessels used in rituals of Isis, the goddess of fertility in ancient Egyptian mythology, all from the Late Period, about 500 B.C.

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A headless bronze statue of Imhotep.Amr Nabil / AP

A headless bronze statue of Imhotep, the chief architect of Pharaoh Djoser who ruled ancient Egypt between 2630 B.C. and 2611 B.C was also displayed.

The artifacts will be transferred for a permanent exhibit at the new Grand Egyptian Museum, a mega project still under construction near the famed Giza Pyramids, just outside Cairo.

The Saqqara site is part of a sprawling necropolis at Egypt’s ancient capital of Memphis that includes the Giza Pyramids and the smaller pyramids at Abu Sir, Dahshur and Abu Ruwaysh. The ruins of Memphis were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1970s.

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Visitors look at the painted coffins on display at the feet of the Step Pyramid.Amr Nabil / AP

Egypt has been heavily promoting recent archaeological finds, hoping to attract more tourists to the country. Its tourist sector, a major source of foreign currency, suffered from years of political turmoil and violence following the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

The sector has recently started to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, only to be hit again by the effects of Russia’s war on Ukraine. Along with Russia, Ukraine is a major source of tourists visiting Egypt.