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New digs in Dahshur

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Four anthropoid wooden coffins, three wooden canopic jars, and four washabti boxes have been unearthed inside an unidentified burial shaft located in the northern area of the Ramesside tomb of Ta in t

Four anthropoid wooden coffins, three wooden canopic jars, and four washabti boxes have been unearthed inside an unidentified burial shaft located in the northern area of the Ramesside tomb of Ta in the Dahshur Necropolis, south of Giza plateau. Egypt’s minister of culture Farouk Hosni announced that the discovery was made by a Japanese mission from the Institute of Egyptology at the Waseda University.

Dr. Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), said that although these coffins are empty now, due to looting by antiquity tomb raiders, their original features remain intact.

Hawass added that preliminary study of these coffins trace them back to the Ramesside era or the Late Period. The coffins are divided into two sets, teach consisting of multiple coffins covered in black resin and decorated with yellow inscriptions. The two sets belong to two less known ancient Egyptians namely Tutpashu and Iriseraa.

Dr. Sakuji Yoshemura, head of the Japanese mission, said that the first set bears the images of its owner and various ancient Egyptian gods, while the other is less elaborate and simple. The names of both persons are written on the canopic jars and washabti boxes, which contain at least 38 partly broken wooden statuettes.

Yoshimura pointed out that all objects have been removed from the pit to the site galleries for immediate restoration.

Japan’s Waseda University mission has uncovered a number of tombs, coffins, burials, and statues since beginning excavation in this area 15 years ago. Some of these objects may currently be seen on tour in Japan, in a special exhibition celebrating Waseda University’s 40th year of archaeological work in Egypt.

Dahshur lies at the southernmost tip of Memphis necropolis which stretches over 30 kilometers north to south from the ancient sites of Abu Rawash, Giza to Zawiyet el Aryan, Abusir, Sakkara and South Sakkara. Memphis was formed at the end of Dynasty zero or beginning of the First Dynasty. It was the capital of Egypt at least, since the early Second Dynasty to the Eighth Dynasty.

About a few years ago, antiquities tomb raiders were caught red-handed by the authorities, leading them to ancient remains never thought to have existed in the area. The grave robbers launched their dig one summer night but were apprehended by police. Unaware of their excavation, they helped authorities uncover the first necropolis ever found dedicated to “royal family” dentists belonging to King E Emery of the First Dynasty.

Tomb robbery is rife in the area around Memphis necropolis, which Hawass said has yielded only a mere 30 percent of the entire ancient archeological treasures still buried. Fortunately (unfortunately), those who pillage the ancient tombs only take with them valuable, pricey treasures and leave behind tomb casings, sarcophagus, coffins, mummies and remains because they cannot sell such items on the black market.