Egypt displays 59 ancient coffins recently discovered near pyramids

Egypt displays 59 ancient coffins recently discovered near pyramids

CAIRO — Archaeologists displayed an amazing discovery of antiquities Saturday — 59 sealed sarcophagi recently unearthed near the ancient city of Memphis' famed necropolis.

The sarcophagi were discovered in a newly uncovered 36-foot deep well inside the famed Step Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara. They were buried more than 2,600 years ago.

The sarcophagi were made for priests, top officials and other elites from the Pharaonic Late Period (664-525 B.C.). Researchers also found 28 statuettes of Ptah-Soker, the main god of the Saqqara necropolis. A more than 13-inch tall bronze carved statuette of Nefertum, god of the lotus blossom, also was found. It is inlaid with precious stones and the name of its owner on the base, Priest Badi-Amun.

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“I consider this is the beginning of a big discovery,” said Khalid el-Anany, Egypt’s tourism and antiquities minister.

The first batch of coffins was discovered last month in near “perfect condition” because of a protective seal that preserved them, Reuters reported. The discovery will join 30 other sarcophagi that were discovered in October in Luxor. Archaeologists will continue to study their contents before they are displayed at the Grand Egyptian Museum, being built near the Giza Pyramids.

The Saqqara site has at least 11 pyramids and was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in the 1970s. It is part of the necropolis of Egypt’s ancient capital of Memphis, which includes the pyramids at Giza.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.