Painted Egypt Coffins Unearthed

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April 27, 2009—Archaeologists in Egypt have found 53 rock tombs containing preserved mummies and vibrantly painted coffins dating back as far as 4,000 years.

© 2009 National Geographic (AP)

Unedited Transcript

Archaeologists in Egypt say they have discovered an ancient necropolis containing dozens of preserved mummies dating back as far as 4-thousand years in the oasis of Fayoum, south of Cairo.

Fifty-three tombs have been discovered cut into rock at a site southeast of the Illahun pyramids, containing colored wooden coffins.

SOUNDBITE (English) Abdel-Rahman El-Ayedi, Supervisor of Antiquities for Middle Egypt: "The importance of this discovery (is) that it will show the funeral, the development of the funeral architecture within this period of time. At the same time it will give us a clear idea of the burial customs of ancient Egyptians during this time. The tombs are very architectural in design, some of them are very simple in design, they consist of a shaft and a single burial chamber, and others are comprised (of) more than a burial chamber."

SOUNDBITE (English) Abdel-Rahman El-Ayedi, Supervisor of Antiquities for Middle Egypt: "Inside the tomb we found a lot of objects representing the funeral deposit or funeral gods, hundreds of pottery vessels and jars, alabaster jars, amulets, statues, wooden statues, (inaudible). The prevailing idea within Egyptologists, (is) that this site has been established by Senusret the Second, the 4th King of the 12th Dynasty."

The mummies were wrapped in linen, and the coffins were painted in several colors, including turquoise, terracotta and gold.

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