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A 2500-year-old coffin discovered in a burial shaft in the desert near the Saqqara necropolis in Egypt. The image was released September 19, 2020 by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities.

The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities/Handout via Reuters


  • Archaeologists found 27 new sarcophagi in an ancient city of the dead beneath Saqqara, Egypt.
  • The wooden coffins are perfectly sealed — they’ve remained undisturbed for 2,500 years since the bodies inside were mummified.
  • Last year, Egyptologists discovered a trove of mummified lion cubs, crocodiles, and cobras in Saqqara.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

More than two millennia ago, 27 Egyptians were laid to rest in Saqqara, an ancient city of the dead. Their organs were removed, and their bodies wrapped in linens. Priests placed them inside wooden boxes adorned with hieroglyphics.

The mummies stayed buried in those sarcophagi for 2,500 years — until their recent discovery by Egyptian archaeologists. 

The finding is one of Egypt’s largest in over a century.

It happened in two parts: In early September, Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced more than a dozen coffins had been found in a burial shaft under the ancient city of Saqqara. Then two weeks later, the shaft yielded a second set of sarcophagi.

“Initial studies indicate that these coffins are completely closed and haven’t been opened since they were buried,” the ministry said in a Facebook post on Sunday. 

The photos below show how archaeologists found the sarcophagi,and other mummies buried beneath Saqqara.

Business financial make money capital trading He was right: On Sunday, the ministry announced that archaeologists had found 14 more sarcophagi.

business  financial  make money  capital  trading saqqara sarcophagi

A sarcophagus discovered in Saqqara, Egypt.

Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities Egypt


That brought the total to 27.

In a statement on Facebook, Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities noted that this finding is “the largest number of coffins with one burial” discovered since a group of 30 coffins were unearthed at Al-Assasif cemetery in Luxor last year.

Business financial make money capital trading Despite being buried for 2,500 years, the sarcophagi have retained most of their original paint and hieroglyphics. The coffins have been sealed since their burial.

business  financial  make money  capital  trading saqqara sarcophagi

Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, looks at a 2,500-year-old coffin discovered in a burial shaft near Saqqara necropolis. The image was released September 19, 2020.

The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities/Handout via Reuters


The ministry has not yet opened them.

Business financial make money capital trading The identities of the people inside the sarcophagi “have not been determined,” the ministry said on Sunday, but suggested the question “will be answered over the next few days” as excavations continue.

business  financial  make money  capital  trading saqqara sarcophagi

Multiple coffins discovered in a burial shaft in the desert near the Saqqara necropolis in Egypt .

The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities/Handout via Reuters


The coffins were found stacked on top of each other in the shaft.

Business financial make money capital trading The archaeologists also uncovered various artifacts in the burial shaft, including small statues and figurines.

business  financial  make money  capital  trading saqqara sarcophagi

Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, looks at a statue found in one of the 2,500-year-old coffins discovered in a burial shaft in the desert near Saqqara necropolis.

The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities/Handout via Reuters


They also uncovered a wooden obelisk just over a foot tall that’s adorned with paintings of Egyptian gods and goddesses, CNN reported.

Business financial make money capital trading The ancient Egyptians buried their dead in Saqqara — which is 20 miles south of Cairo in the Western Desert — for some 3,000 years.

business  financial  make money  capital  trading People enter the Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara outside Cairo.

People enter the Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara outside Cairo.

Oliver Weiken/Picture Alliance / Getty


Saqqara was the necropolis, or city of the dead, for the ancient capital of Memphis. Its name likely derives from Sokar, the Memphite god of the dead.

Business financial make money capital trading Saqqara is home to one of Egypt’s oldest pyramids: the Step Pyramid of Djoser, which was built about 4,600 years ago.

business  financial  make money  capital  trading The pyramid was built in 2650 BC for King Djoser, third dynasty, the site of Saqquarah. The site was discovered in 1926 by French architect Jean Philippe Lauer.

The Step Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara.

Michel Baret/Gamma-Rapho / Getty


The architect Imhotep built the pyramid to house the remains of King Djoser, an ancient Egyptian pharaoh from the Third Dynasty.

It was the first building ever made of stone, and it paved the way for other pyramids, including the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Business financial make money capital trading The necropolis is replete with mummies.

business  financial  make money  capital  trading A journalist tours inside the step pyramid of Djoser in Egypt's Saqqara necropolis, south of the capital Cairo, on March 5, 2020.

A journalist tours inside the step pyramid of Djoser in Egypt’s Saqqara necropolis, south of the capital Cairo, on March 5, 2020.

Mohamed el-Shahed / AFP / Getty


The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced in 2018 that archaeologists had discovered a 4,400-year-old tomb in Saqqara. It belonged to a royal purification priest who served during the reign of King Nefer-Ir-Ka-Re.

Business financial make money capital trading Researchers also unearthed a huge cache of animal mummies there in November 2019.

business  financial  make money  capital  trading GettyImages lion cub mummy

A feline mummy displayed after the announcement of a new discovery in the Saqqara necropolis, November 23, 2019

Khaled Desouki/AFP via Getty


They found two rare mummified lion cubs, as well as mummified birds, crocodiles, cats, cobras, and an enormous mummified scarab beetle.

Business financial make money capital trading The mummified lion cubs are about 2,600 years old.

business  financial  make money  capital  trading GettyImages 1184126809 mummy cat

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A mummy of a cat displayed after the announcement of a new discovery in the Saqqara necropolis, November 23, 2019.

Khaled DesoukiI/AFP via Getty


The cubs were only eight months old when they were mummified. Other mummified wildcats were found alongside the two lions. 

Business financial make money capital trading “This is the first time [a] complete mummy of a lion or lion cub” has been found in Egypt, Mostafa Waziri, the secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, said in a press conference.

business  financial  make money  capital  trading GettyImages 1184126829 mummy cat

The head of cat statue displayed after the announcement of a new discovery in the Saqqara necropolis, November 23, 2019.

Khaled DesoukiI/AFP via Getty


Ancient Egyptians mummified and buried millions of animals, often treating creatures like hawks, cats, and crocodiles with the same reverence that they would a human corpse.

The Egyptians believed animals were reincarnations of gods, so they honored them by mummifying the creatures and worshipping these animals in temples. Mummified animals could also serve as offerings to those gods.

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