The discovery of the black sarcophagus in Alexandria (which was easy giving the Egyptian press stuck the veil of secrecy and almost of the resting places of Alexander the great) eclipsed a much more important scientific discovery of 35 mummies and unique silver mask 30 km from Cairo. The last time something similar scientists beheld almost forty years ago. And such a sensation. But let’s start with the black sarcophagus to put the three of them, though not rich people, but highly respected warriors. Otherwise I would not began to try.
The famous Egyptologist Victor Solkin keeps abreast of any in Russia, or being right there on excavations in Egypt.
So, the black sarcophagus was opened — there is water, the bones of three people…
They, apparently, military origin, — says Victor Solkin — the Ministry of antiquities of Egypt took the remains of all three men from the now famous “black sarcophagus”: they are on the basis of the archaeological warehouse in Alexandria. It turned out interesting detail: the two men have wounds on the turtles. The wounds of arrows. That is, they are warriors. And then the situation a little bit clearer. Although these soldiers were buried without the necessary items of Egyptian funerary equipment.
— So they — not the Egyptians?
— No. They could be, for example, Greeks. Or other peoples of antiquity. At the court of the Ptolemies served people from various corners of the Mediterranean. But these men died in some interesting situations, because they were killed with arrows, caught in the backs of their heads. That is, they were shot from behind.
— Isn’t it strange?
Before the end of these events we can reconstruct. But it is a fact that they were awarded a very honorable burial. Took the unused front malmousce the sarcophagus did, in fact, a mass grave, putting them back together. Similar cases in Egypt were. We have examples of much more ancient: in the 21st century BC is one of the kings, namely Amenhotep the Second, ascended the throne; but he was rising very hard, was a civil war, and all the warriors who were killed, but maintained Amenhotep, was awarded absolutely stunning collective tombs. So, the black sarcophagus is such a military honor. But the fact that there are no Egyptian amulets (at least minimal), seems to indicate that they were still foreigners.
— But the dear people at the time?
— Of course. The Egyptian army has traditionally played a huge role mercenaries. Usually it was the inhabitants of the Islands of the Mediterranean sea. And that’s killed them in the back. Maybe they were protecting the king, since the king awarded them the honor of being buried in the sarcophagus velimezisa. Soon we will get new details on the plot with a black coffin: they may relate to the age of these people, physique, possible diseases they suffered in life. Arrow what shape they were killed. Whose arrows. So we are waiting for information. But that’s not the main story, which is now shaking Egypt.
But the world’s press rages is “black sarcophagus.”
And that’s not right. It is only that, in the Saqqara necropolis (30 kilometers from Cairo) found a cache of 35 mummies.
And as they lay in such numbers?
Is a collective burial chamber in the catacombs at a great depth of 12 meters. And here already there when the mummies — all necessary items of burial inventory. Not only that: one of the mummies was found by a fantastic silver (with gold) mask with inlaid eyes. And I remind you that in ancient Egypt silver was always worth more than gold, because the gold and silver they drove caravans from Anatolia. This finding dates back to 7-6 centuries BC. And apparently, besides the fact that there was a stash of embalmed bodies, there is still… was the lab of the ancient embalmers. That is, it was there, in the depths of the artist works directly embalmed body. They also found incredible beauty of alabaster vessels for entrails, with the covers of heads of the spirits. Found painted, gilded moldings on the mummy.
— And most importantly — this amazing mask!..
Yeah. Now the foreign press, this discovery went like sensation, and if you compare it with a black sarcophagus in Alexandria, it is much more important. At Saqqara remained — and this is very important is the archaeological context that allows you to learn the names of the buried people, and their social status.
— And why the black sarcophagus was blown out of proportion in the press much more silver masks?
Because ancient Egypt is always associated with something mysterious and unusual. And here’s the info came first in some minor Egyptian media, which are trying to attract attention to himself, wrote about the “curse of the black sarcophagus.” To not having any reason to. But with this and a wave. The mystical nonsense that overshadowed everything. But now the silver mask is already gaining no less popular: because the last time the monuments of this artistic level was found in Egypt 38 years ago.
— There are two of the finds and the sarcophagus, and mask — it happened almost at the same time?
Yes. Only the sarcophagus was accidentally found by construction workers, and 35 mummies looking for professional scientists — a joint Egyptian-German mission. I remind you that only the length of the Saqqara necropolis from North to South seven kilometres. There, by the way, is the oldest step pyramid of Djoser. And many thousands of years there were buried the most different persons, from kings and ending with early Christian monks. So for science (and art history) discovery at Saqqara is much more informative and important than a black sarcophagus. Moreover, the silver mask is very interesting now and the General public.
— And how to lay these 35 mummies in the tomb?
— At this time in Egypt there existed a collective burial, collective tomb because it was easier to guard. This multi-tiered catacombs. From the vertical mines where the corridors diverge with burial chambers and in each chamber — two, three mummies. By the way, in a very good state of preservation (in contrast to the findings of Alexandria).
— What about now keep mummy?
— It is clear that these mummies will not get into some (relatively) the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. They will be specially preserved and conserved in the repository Saqqara. It is built with the help of France, a magnificent archaeological site. Or (what many do not know), the mummy’s leave to Cairo. And there is the famous hospital which is called Qasr El Aini (located in the center, near the Cairo Museum), and in the dungeons of the hospital are hundreds of thousands of mummified remains of ancient Egyptians.
— That is the whole nation in mummies.
Yes. The front exhibited only the Royal mummy. Or the mummies of some very major nobles. And all the others mainly come in Qasr El Aini. For them is a special climate control. The main threat for mummies is not temperature and humidity. Need a totally dry climate. Any moisture activates the mummy bacteria, fungi… the mummy can simply mildew and die. If the humidity is minimal, the mummy may be even as many centuries as it had been a couple of thousand years before us.
— And no plague for us mummy exude?
— No. There is a classic bacterial background. Initially, the ancient Egyptian mummification was based on the principle of removing water, that is, the body was dried with soda and salt, aromatic herbs. So it is, in fact, shrunken in effigy. But even if (due to moisture) of the bacterial background rises, there is still no deadly poisons.
Read the story: curse of the Pharaoh: what are some dangers of opening “the black sarcophagus”
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