Egypt unveils previously unopened sarcophagus containing female mummy

Reuters

Egyptian authorities Saturday unveiled a well-preserved mummy of a woman inside a previously unopened coffin in southern Egypt dating back more than 3,000 years.

The sarcophagus, an ancient coffin, was one of two found earlier this month by a French-led mission in the northern area of El-Asasef, a necropolis on the west bank of the Nile. The first one had been opened earlier and examined by Egyptian antiquities officials.

“One sarcophagus was “rishi”-style, which dates back to the 17th Dynasty, while the other sarcophagus was from the 18th Dynasty,” Minister of Antiquities Khaled al-Anani said. “The two tombs were present with their mummies inside.”

The 18th Dynasty dates back to the 13th century B.C., a period noted for some of the most well known pharaohs, including Tutankhamen and Ramses II.

It was the first known time that authorities had opened a previously unopened sarcophagus before international media.

Earlier in the day, authorities also revealed in the same area the tomb of the overseer of the mummification shrine identified as Thaw-Irkhet-if.

The tomb contained five colored masks and some 1,000 Ushabti statutes — the miniature figurine of servants to serve the dead in the afterlife.

Over a period of five months a large amount of rubble was removed to uncover the tomb, which contained colored ceiling paintings depicting the owner and his family.

The tomb, which also contained mummies, skeletons and skulls, dates back to the Middle Kingdom almost 4,000 years ago, but was reused during the late period.

Ancient Egyptians mummified humans to preserve their bodies for the afterlife, while animal mummies were used as religious offerings.

Egypt has revealed over a dozen ancient discoveries since the beginning of the year.

The country hopes these discoveries will brighten its image abroad and revive interest among travelers who once flocked to its iconic pharaonic temples and pyramids but who have shunned the country since its 2011 political uprising.