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Egyptian Archeologists Uncover 30 Ancient Coffins With Mummies Intact

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Builders work at the construction site of the Grand Egyptian Museum, where the new coffin find will go on display.

Photo by Ahmed Gomaa/Xinhua/Alamy Live News

Builders work at the construction site of the Grand Egyptian Museum, where the new coffin find will go on display.

The largest discovery of its kind in more than a century will go on display to the public when the Grand Egyptian Museum opens in 2020.

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When the long-awaited Grand Egyptian Museum opens in 2020 near the Giza pyramids, all 5,000 objects from King Tut’s tomb will be on display in one place for the first time since Howard Carter discovered it in 1922.

Now, travelers can also look forward to seeing a much more recent discovery at the new museum, too. Earlier in October, a team of Egyptan archeologists found 30 “colored wooden human coffins, in a distinct state of conservation, colors, and inscriptions” in a cache at the Al-Asasif Cemetery in Luxor on the west bank of the Nile River, the Ministry of Antiquities said in a statement.

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“It is the first large human coffin cache ever discovered since the end of the 19th century,” the Egyptian minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany announced at a ceremony near Luxor on October 19 when the coffins were opened, Reuters reported.

The 30 sealed coffins revealed perfectly intact mummies of ancient Egyptians believed to be 3,000 years old. The mummies include the remains of men, women, and even two children—a very rare find—who are all believed to be priests. 

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The sealed coffins were discovered in two stacked rows just three feet below the sand, archaeologist Zahi Hawass told CNN. Inscribed with hieroglyphics and ancient Egyptian gods, the cache of coffins is unique because they were found intact and also retained their bright colors throughout the millennia, thanks to their burial spot hidden in the sand. Most coffins buried in tombs were either discovered by tomb raiders long ago or damaged by termites, Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general for Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, told NBC News.

After being unveiled at a ceremony in front of Hatshepsut Temple at the Valley of the Kings and briefly put on display for tourists, the coffins are set to undergo restoration. Once that work is complete, the ministry says the coffins and the mummies will go on display in a dedicated showroom at the Grand Egyptian Museum, which is slated to open near the Giza pyramids at the end of 2020, El-Enany told CNN.

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