With tales of doom and disaster proven (surprisingly) to be false and no rampaging return for Imhotep, perhaps it’s finally safe to take a look inside the infamous black sarcophagus recently unearthed in Egypt, a 27 tonne, 9ft by 5ft structure that has remained untouched since its original burial, the largest sarcophagus to ever be found in this condition and location.
First discovered earlier this month by construction workers in Alexandria, the sarcophagus was located sixteen feet underground and the findings have been dated to the Ptolemaic dynasty, the last dynasty of ancient Egypt who ruled from 305 BC to 30 BC during the Hellenistic period.
Amongst other relics at the site was a worn alabaster head of a male, the speculation being that the bust is potentially one of the occupants of the sarcophagus. A team of archeologists was swiftly assembled by Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities and, belaying fears of fungus, bacteria and Sutekh’s gift of death, opened the sarcophagus this past Thursday.
Initially setback by the foul smell after opening the lid a mere two inches, a smell so pungent that it forced the team from the site entirely, the sarcophagus was eventually opened with the assistance of Egyptian military engineers. Three sets of remains were found to be inside the case and were likely to have been soldiers or military officials, with initial studies of the remains showing significant head trauma to one of the skulls which was suggestive of arrow inflicted battle wounds.
Speaking to the BBC, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa Waziri said that the mummies unfortunately were not in the condition that might have been hoped:
“We’ve opened it and, thank God, the world has not fallen into darkness… We found the bones of three people, in what looks like a family burial… Unfortunately, the mummies inside were not in the best condition and only the bones remain.”
The red liquid which had social media in a frenzy was found to neither be “mummy juice” nor mercury as some feared, rather the liquid was just what it smelled like when the sarcophagus was opened – sewer water.
Perhaps those enthused by drinking the stuff might now like to think again!
The sewage, coming from a nearby building, had unfortunately leaked into the sarcophagus through a small crack and caused significant disintegration to the skeletons.
The find is the latest in a notable year in Egyptology with a network of tombs discovered in Minya, south of Cairo, which archaeologists believe to be untouched, alongside the exciting discovery in April of a Greco-Roman temple at Al-Salam in the Western Desert.
Michael East is a writer with a wide variety of eclectic tastes including politics, history, archaeology, professional wrestling and British science-fiction. A former Students' Union President and newspaper editor, he has studied at a variety of institutions and graduated in both history and politics.
He is interested in truth, justice and the unAmerican way. Named as TIME Person of the Year in 2006 and 2011, he is known variously as a rake, a libertine and as the King in the North... if to nobody else but himself.