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Mysterious Sealed Sarcophagus Found in Egypt—What's Inside?

Ancient Egyptian sarcophagus from the Ptolemaic period (Credit: Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities)
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    Mysterious Sealed Sarcophagus Found in Egypt—What's Inside?

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      Lesley Kennedy

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      Mysterious Sealed Sarcophagus Found in Egypt—What's Inside?

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      July 19, 2018

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      A+E Networks

A more than 2,000-year-old sarcophagus has been discovered in Alexandria, Egypt, but what—or who—is inside is still unknown.

The black granite tomb, the biggest of its size found in the city and dating back to the Ptolemaic period, measures about 9-feet long by 5-feet wide and is 6-feet tall, according to a statement from Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Dr. Ayman Ashmawy, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Sector, says the sarcophagus, found buried more than 16 feet underground, appears to have never been opened since it was first sealed, as a layer of mortar between the lid and the body of the sarcophagus remains intact, according to the statement. A carved alabaster man’s head, likely depicting the tomb’s owner, was also excavated.

This alabaster carving of a man’s head, uncovered with the ancient black sarcophagus, is believed to depict its owner. (Credit: Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities)

The relic was found during new construction in the city. Property owners are required by Egyptian law to excavate before they undertake any building project.

According to Smithsonian, significant archeological finds in Alexandria are scarce, as the large city (population: 5 million) has been built up over ancient ruins for millennia. However, recent digs have brought to light several important discoveries. In 2004, archaeologists uncovered the long-lost site of the University of Alexandria, hub of ancient learning and culture that was alma mater to the Greek mathematicians Archimedes and Euclid, among others. And in 1994, Alexandria’s harbor yielded the submerged remains of its famed Pharos lighthouse, the first known lighthouse and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Other 2018 ancient Egyptian finds include a 4,400-year-old tomb discovered in February near Cairo close to the pyramids at Giza; a large necropolis was also unearthed in February in Minya in the Nile Valley; and a rare marble head of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius was unearthed by archaeologists in April in Aswan.

So, to whom does the tomb belong? And what artifacts are buried inside? The antiquities council may use scans or X-rays to see what’s inside without damaging the rare, unopened tomb.

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