Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered a ‘huge cache’ of vividly painted wooden coffins near the ancient city of Luxor which ‘may have belonged to high priests’, in the ancient town of West Thebes.
The seemingly well-preserved sarcophagi were discovered “as the ancient Egyptians left them,” said an official press statement highlighting their intact engravings and surviving coloration.
Experts claimed that the coffins may date back to the third intermediate period which began with the death of Pharaoh Ramesses XI in 1070 BC, which would make the coffins nearly 3,000 years old.
The Egyptian government made the announcement but has not yet revealed details of the discovery, instead releasing a series of photos which show the Egyptian Minister of Antiquities, Khaled el-Anan inspecting the findings.
Senior lecturer in Egyptology at the University of Liverpool, Dr Roland Enmarch, said that the coffins were more common place during that time period, due to the fact that many Egyptians had given up on the more traditional burial tombs.
‘In the past similar coffins have been found in the area and date from around the third intermediate period which in B.C terms is 1070 B.C to 650 B.C. We can tell this from the type of décor on the coffins’.
He added: ‘The decoration of the coffins says a lot, as if you didn’t have a tomb your coffin would be well decorated, in earlier periods you would have obviously had a tomb.’
Pictures released by the Egyptian government show the coffins were dusty but well preserved and Dr Enmarch, said this was partly due to the favourable climate in Egypt.
‘If something stays dry then as long as the chemicals are stable – it can stay like this for thousands of years. They would sometimes use wax as varnish or tree resin, this is why on some coffins they can glisten. They have suffered a lot and there was a lot of dust on them.
‘During that time people lived in east and west of the Nile in modern day Luxor lived and worked nearby – most worked on east side of the river – west is land of the dead so many wanted to be buried there.’