A recent discovery by archaeologists in Egypt has unveiled a collection of tombs ranging from approximately 1,800 to 4,800 years ago. The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities revealed that some of these tombs contained vibrant mummy masks and a childlike statue depicting the god of silence.
Nozomu Kawai, the director of the Institute for the Study of Ancient Civilizations and Cultural Resources at Kanazawa University in Japan, led the excavations and suggested that the colorful mummy masks likely date back to the Roman period (29 B.C. to A.D. 641). Among the findings was a small statue portraying Harpocrates, a Greek god associated with silence, riding a goose, symbolizing the triumph of the Divine Child over an evil spirit, as explained by Kawai.
Additionally, the archaeologists uncovered a stela, a carved stone slab, with inscriptions identifying it as belonging to a man named “Heroides,” according to Kawai.
The initial discoveries at the site in northern Saqqara, including the tomb of a woman named Demetria and her pet, were made in 2019. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the excavation had to be temporarily halted. Upon the team’s return in 2023, they unearthed more tombs and artifacts.
The excavation site, situated on the eastern escarpment of the North Saqqara plateau, revealed tombs dating back to the Second Dynasty, approximately 4,800 years ago. The findings also included tombs from the 18th Dynasty (circa 1550 to 1295 B.C.), the Late Period (circa 712 to 332 B.C.), and artifacts from Ptolemaic and Roman times.
Among the notable discoveries was an Egyptian alabaster plate dating to the Second Dynasty, found within one of the oldest tombs, accompanied by a crouching burial inside a wooden box coffin damaged by termites. Another tomb from the 18th Dynasty contained a mummy within a coffin, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.
Saqqara, known for its extensive necropolises, has been a rich source of tombs spanning different dynasties of ancient Egypt. Experts, including Aidan Dodson, an Egyptology professor at the University of Bristol in the U.K., have expressed the need for more information before providing in-depth insights into these recent archaeological finds. Other Egyptologists share similar sentiments.