Put it back! This is not the year.
If there is one thing we do not need this year, it is the consequences of cracking open a few millennia-old mummy coffins from Egypt. But it has already happened and took place in front of a live audience as well. Archeologists unsealed the first of 59 sealed sarcophagi last week as dozens of people crowded around wielding cameras. Global News reported that the ancient coffin contained bodies of Egyptian priests of the past who were buried some 2,500 years ago. Despite being amidst a deadly pandemic, many of the onlookers did not have masks as they waited in close quarters to get a look at as well as a whiff of the long-buried priest’s remains.
عثرت البعثة الأثرية المصرية بالغريفة على تمائم وجعارين داخل بئر للدفن به تابوت الكاهن جحوتي إم حتب من الاسرة 26— Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (@TourismandAntiq) October 12, 2020
The 🇪🇬 archaeological mission in Al-Ghuraifa discovered-inside a burial shaft amulets & scarabs in Jehuty Imhotep’s coffin, the chief priest from the 26th dynasty pic.twitter.com/3IsKiNBydV
These sarcophagi were discovered at a sprawling burial ground in Saqqara, the necropolis located near the ancient Egyptian city of Memphis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Archeologists found the 59 wooden coffins in well-preserved conditions. The coffin that was opened at the gathering hosted by Egypt's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities contained the mummified remains wrapped in burial cloth that bore hieroglyphic inscriptions in bright colors, reported Al-Jazeera. “We are very happy about this discovery,” said Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.
There is also a high possibility there may be an unknown number of additional coffins still buried at the site which is located near the 4,700-year-old pyramid of Djoser, according to Khaled al-Anani, the Tourism, and Antiquities Minister. “I have witnessed the opening of one of the coffins … the mummy seems as if it was mummified yesterday,” he stated. In addition to human remains, excavation at the site has also unearthed troves of artifacts as well as mummified snakes, birds, scarab beetles, and other animals as well. They could have belonged to the Late Period of ancient Egypt, from about the sixth or seventh century BC.
The sarcophagi were in such excellent condition that they still had the original paintings on them. They were found stacked over each other in several burial wells that were in shafts at depths of up to 12 meters (40 feet.) "The reveal is not finished yet; we have found layers of coffins which will be announced later," the ministry later stated. The coffins will be transferred to the new Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza for display, reported CNET. The museum is expected to open in 2021. As fascinating as it is to look history in the eyes, the unearthing and unboxing of an ancient sarcophagus was criticized on social media.
Watch as archaeologists in Egypt opened an ancient mummy coffin that was sealed more than 2,500 years ago, in front of a live audience. pic.twitter.com/gsAz4NBQYM— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) October 6, 2020
One Twitter user wrote: Can you imagine if people from a foreign land tried to come to America dig up George Washington or Thomas Jefferson’s grave, and put their bodies on display in their museums? There would be outrage like we’ve never seen before. This has never, and will never sit right with me. Others were concerned about the "mummy's curse" that could join the rest of the disasters that have been taking over 2020. An Egyptologist helped put these concerns to rest as she clarified by tweeting, Let's talk about the "curse" aspect. This is largely orientalism and fetishization of ancient Egyptian beliefs/practices. *Yes* there were curses but NOT in the "oh my god we're all going to die or be eaten by the mummy" sense. That is called HOLLYWOOD.
*The Egyptologist has entered the chat room* Sit down a spell, y'all. I need to talk about this viral video, and give you some context. Been working in Egypt for 20+ years+ I know the people involved in this discovery. Thread (or in this case Mummy Linen). Spoiler: NO CURSE 1/? https://t.co/hy0QTAiE7S— Scary Parcak 👻🎃 (@indyfromspace) October 5, 2020