Egypt Discovers the Largest Mummy Workshop in Saqqara and the Most Beautiful Ancient Tomb

Ancient Egypt, one of the oldest and greatest civilizations in human history, is renowned for its magnificent architectural works, hieroglyphic writing system, and especially its unique burial rituals and mummification techniques. From the grand pyramids to the intricately carved royal tombs, each archaeological discovery from Egypt opens new chapters in our understanding of this culture.

The Saqqara region in Giza, Egyp
The Saqqara region in Giza, Egyp

Recently, a significant event has captured the attention of archaeologists and the public alike: Egypt has unearthed what is considered the most beautiful ancient tomb and the largest mummy workshop in Saqqara. This discovery is not only a breakthrough in the study of ancient Egyptian burial practices but also promises to bring fascinating insights into the history and culture of one of the most illustrious civilizations in human history.

The Journey of Discovering the Ancient Tomb and Mummy Workshop

The unearthing of the ancient tomb and the largest mummy workshop in Saqqara embarked on a challenging and thrilling journey that began in early 2023 under the leadership of Dr. Zahi Hawass and a team of archaeologists from the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt. Throughout the excavation process, the team faced numerous obstacles, ranging from the harsh desert climate to the preservation of ancient structures and artifacts.

The vast burial site at the ancient Egyptian
The vast burial site at the ancient Egyptian

Leveraging cutting-edge technology such as ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and 3D scanners, the archaeological team was able to pinpoint the exact location and structure of the tomb and mummy workshop without compromising the artifacts within. After months of meticulous research and excavation, the ancient tomb and mummy workshop gradually emerged before their eyes, transporting them back to ancient Egypt, where burial ceremonies were conducted with solemnity and mystique.

The Mummy Workshop – Keeper of Mummification Secrets

The recent archaeological excavation at Saqqara has unveiled two significant mummy workshops, one for humans and one for animals. These workshops provide a comprehensive insight into the mummification practices and beliefs of ancient Egypt.

Canopic jars, which were made to keep the organs removed during the process of mummification, are seen at the site of the Step Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara, 24km (15 miles) southwest of Cairo.
Canopic jars, which were made to keep the organs removed during the process of mummification, are seen at the site of the Step Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara, 24km (15 miles) southwest of Cairo.

Mummification workshops for humans

Amidst the arid sands of Saqqara, archaeologists have unearthed a site of immense historical significance—the human mummification workshop. Situated near a newly discovered ancient tomb, this workshop, constructed from mud bricks, offers a rare glimpse into the sophisticated mummification techniques of ancient Egypt.

As the excavation team meticulously brushed away layers of sand and debris, the structure of the workshop began to reveal itself. The exterior, rectangular in shape, featured a main entrance gate and multiple windows designed for ventilation. Adorned with vibrant murals, the walls depicted scenes of daily life and elaborate funeral rituals, capturing the essence of ancient Egyptian culture.

The head of Egypt\'s Supreme Council of Antiquities told reporters the embalming workshops, where humans and animals were mummified, \'date back to the 30th dynasty\' which reigned about 2,400 years ago.
The head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities told reporters the embalming workshops, where humans and animals were mummified, ‘date back to the 30th dynasty’ which reigned about 2,400 years ago.

Inside, the workshop was divided into distinct functional areas, each dedicated to a specific stage of the mummification process. The preparation area, where bodies were cleansed and internal organs removed, was equipped with a variety of metal and wooden tools. In the mummification area, stone embalming tables stood as silent witnesses to the meticulous process of preservation using natron, resin, and an array of herbs. The storage area held preserved bodies and burial goods, ready for their final journey to the tombs.

Canopic jars, which were made to keep the organs removed during the process of mummification, are seen at the site of the Step Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara, 24km (15 miles) southwest of Cairo.
Canopic jars, which were made to keep the organs removed during the process of mummification, are seen at the site of the Step Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara, 24km (15 miles) southwest of Cairo.

Among the artifacts discovered were an array of embalming tools—knives, scissors, hooks, and needles—each crafted with precision. Jars containing natron, resin, oils, and other herbs were found in abundance, alongside intricately decorated wooden coffins adorned with paintings and hieroglyphs. Jewelry, including necklaces, bracelets, rings, and amulets, as well as shabti statues and deity figures, highlighted the spiritual and artistic richness of the site.

This photo taken on May 27, 2023 shows clay pots used in mummification unearthed at the archaeological site in Saqqara necropolis, south of the capital Cairo, Egypt. Egypt announced on Saturday the discovery of two ancient embalming workshops for humans and animals along with two tombs and a collection of artifacts in Saqqara necropolis, south of the capital Cairo.
This photo taken on May 27, 2023 shows clay pots used in mummification unearthed at the archaeological site in Saqqara necropolis, south of the capital Cairo, Egypt. Egypt announced on Saturday the discovery of two ancient embalming workshops for humans and animals along with two tombs and a collection of artifacts in Saqqara necropolis, south of the capital Cairo.

 Mummification workshops for animals

Accompanying the Human Mummification Workshop, the newly discovered ancient tomb at Saqqara also harbors a unique archaeological site—the animal mummification workshop. This site further reveals the complex beliefs of the ancient Egyptians regarding the afterlife, where their loyal companions were honored and buried with special rituals.

A newly discovered small mummified animal is displayed at the Saqqara Necropolis.
A newly discovered small mummified animal is displayed at the Saqqara Necropolis.

The animal mummification workshop is smaller in scale compared to the human mummification workshop, reflecting the distinction in importance within the burial belief system. However, the workshop still comprises all the necessary functional areas for the mummification process, including preparation, mummification, and storage areas. Each area has its own distinct features, reflecting the specific steps in the animal mummification rituals.

A view of the embalming workshop site for animals at the newly discovered site where two embalming workshops for humans and animals along with two tombs and a collection of artefacts were found, near Egypt\'s Saqqara necropolis, in Giza, Egyp
A view of the embalming workshop site for animals at the newly discovered site where two embalming workshops for humans and animals along with two tombs and a collection of artefacts were found, near Egypt’s Saqqara necropolis, in Giza, Egyp

What sets the animal mummification workshop apart are the unique artifacts that bear cultural and religious significance. Alongside familiar mummification tools such as knives, scissors, hooks, and needles, the workshop also contains distinctive items such as:

Animal Masks: Exquisitely crafted from wood or clay, these masks mimic the heads of various animals like cats, dogs, and falcons. These masks are not only aesthetically valuable but also reflect the belief in the spirits of animals after death.

Sculptures of Animal Protector Deities: Notable among these are the sculptures of Bastet, the cat-headed goddess revered as the protector of cats, and Anubis, the jackal-headed god who guided the souls of the dead. The presence of these sculptures underscores the important role of these deities in protecting and guiding animal souls in the afterlife.

Animal Coffins: Made from wood or stone and sometimes decorated with paintings and hieroglyphs, these coffins serve to protect the mummified animal bodies and demonstrate the reverence for these loyal companions.

Two Ancient Tombs

The Saqqara excavations also led to the unearthing of two small 4,400 and 3,400-year-old tombs nearby, belonging to two priests, Ne Hesut Ba of the Old Kingdom’s fifth dynasty and Men Kheber of the late kingdom’s 18th dynasty respectively.

A view of a sarcophagus face found at the newly discovered site where two embalming workshops for humans and animals along with two tombs and a collection of artefacts were also found, near Egypt\'s Saqqara necropolis, in Giza, Egyp
A view of a sarcophagus face found at the newly discovered site where two embalming workshops for humans and animals along with two tombs and a collection of artefacts were also found, near Egypt’s Saqqara necropolis, in Giza, Egyp

Tomb of Ne Hesut Ba (4,400 Years Old)

The 4,400-year-old tomb of Ne Hesut Ba, a priest from the Old Kingdom’s Fifth Dynasty, is a modest rectangular structure adorned with intricate wall carvings. These carvings depict Ne Hesut Ba performing religious rituals and daily activities, providing a glimpse into the life of a high-ranking official of the time. Hieroglyphic inscriptions offer detailed information about his titles and roles within the religious hierarchy, along with prayers and offerings meant to ensure his safe passage to the afterlife. Artifacts discovered in the tomb include various pottery pieces, personal tools, ceremonial objects, amulets, and figurines, all intended to aid Ne Hesut Ba in his journey beyond death.

Mostafa Waziri, the secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, looks at a colored mummy coffin during an archaeological discovery press conference in Saqqara necropolis, south of the capital Cairo, Egypt
Mostafa Waziri, the secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, looks at a colored mummy coffin during an archaeological discovery press conference in Saqqara necropolis, south of the capital Cairo, Egypt

Tomb of Men Kheber (3,400 Years Old)

The 3,400-year-old tomb of Men Kheber, a priest from the Late Kingdom’s 18th Dynasty, is a slightly larger and more elaborate structure, featuring an antechamber and a main burial chamber. The tomb’s walls are decorated with vivid paintings that illustrate religious ceremonies, offerings to the gods, and scenes from Men Kheber’s life. Extensive hieroglyphic texts describe his titles, duties, and the spells needed for his journey to the afterlife. The artifacts found in the tomb include exquisite pieces of jewelry, protective amulets, shabti figures, and canopic jars used for storing internal organs, all of which highlight the priest’s high status and the elaborate burial practices of the period

The discovery of an ancient tomb and mummy workshop at Saqqara is not only of great significance to Egyptian archeology but also makes an important contribution to clarifying the history, culture, beliefs and mummification techniques of Egypt ancient Egyptians. The information and artifacts obtained from this excavation will provide the basis for many new research and discoveries in the future, opening new doors to the understanding of one of the greatest civilizations of humanity.

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