DISCOVERED: 20 Sealed Ancient Egyptian Coffins Near Luxor In Egypt

By | May 4, 2020

test article image
(Ministry of Antiquities-Arab Republic of Egypt)

The heyday of the Egyptian archaeological dig may have come and gone, but the desert still holds secrets from the past. In 2019, one of the most surprising discoveries of 21st century occurred when researchers dug up more than 20 sealed coffins containing the remarkably well-preserved remains of people from 3,000 years ago. These untouched coffins aren’t just cool to look at—they give us insight into the burial practices and preservation techniques of the ancient Egyptians. None of the coffins that were discovered belonged to a pharaoh or anyone super wealthy, which makes the care put into these ancient caskets all the more interesting.

A Huge Discovery

In October 2019, researchers in Luxor announced that a "huge cache" of 30 coffins were discovered in a necropolis on the Nile River's West Bank called Al-Assasif. The site was once Thebes, the capital of ancient Egypt, but today, it's essentially deserted. The haul comprised 23 adult men, five adult women, and two children, all in spectacular condition. While they weren't royalty, the people buried at the site were nobles and officials from the 22nd Dynasty, an era that spanned 945–720 B.C. The announcement didn't state whether the coffins were single burials or if they were nested together, a funereal practice saved for wealthy families.

test article image

Staggering Condition

It's a testament to the engineering abilities of the ancient Egyptians that these wooden coffins were in such good shape. Aside from the understandable wear and tear that comes from being buried for thousands of years, researchers found that they were in excellent condition. Each coffin was decorated in shades of red, green, white, and black, with paintings and inscriptions on each box. While that is somewhat common for ancient burial containers, the fact that they were perfectly sealed shocked archaeologists when they made the discovery. The remains of the people inside were preserved about as well as possible without modern medical techniques.