Egypt unveils trove of ancient coffins excavated in Luxor

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Painted ancient coffins are seen at Al-Asasif necropolis, unveiled by Egyptian antiquities officials in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor on Saturday. (Reuters)
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Tourists look at painted ancient coffins at Al-Asasif necropolis, unveiled by Egyptian antiquities officials in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt October 19, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 20 October 2019

Egypt unveils trove of ancient coffins excavated in Luxor

  • Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, says the coffins were for men, women and children from the 22nd dynasty (945 B.C. 715 B.C.)

LUXOR: Egypt revealed on Saturday a rare trove of 30 ancient wooden coffins that have been well-preserved over millennia in the archaeologically rich Valley of the Kings in Luxor.
The Antiquities Ministry officially unveiled the discovery made at Asasif, a necropolis on the west bank of the Nile River, at a press conference against the backdrop of the Hatshepsut Temple.
“This is the first discovery in Asasif by dedicated Egyptian hands, comprised of archaeologists, conservationists and workers,” head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mostafa Al-Waziri, told reporters.
The 30 ornately decorated coffins of men, women and children were found only 3 feet underground, stacked in two rows. They are believed to belong to family members of high priests.
Waziri explained that excavations of the site in the 19th century had revealed royal tombs, but this latest discovery had yielded a collection of priests’ burials.
The sarcophagi date back to the 22nd Dynasty, founded around 3,000 years ago in the 10th century BC.
Despite their age, black, green, red and yellow paintings of snakes, birds, lotus flowers and hieroglyphics that cover the coffins are still clearly visible.
“We only did remedial first-aid on these well-preserved coffins. They are considered to be in great condition because there were hardly any settlements” around the site, local Antiquities Ministry restorer Saleh Abdel-Gelil told AFP.
According to Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany, discoveries of ancient Egyptian relics had slowed after the 2011 Arab Spring revolution that toppled long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak and plunged the country in political turmoil.

SPEEDREAD

Egypt has sought to promote its archaeological heritage and recent finds in a bid to revive its vital tourism sector, which has suffered due to political insecurity and terror attacks.

But several high-level officials, including President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, have in recent weeks affirmed Egypt’s stability following rare, small-scale protests in September that drew a heavy-handed response from security forces.
“Some people, we don’t have to mention names, don’t want us to have these discoveries ... that impress the world,” said Enany before throngs of tourists, referring to Egypt’s detractors.
“These discoveries are priceless for Egypt’s reputation,” he added.
Enany said the “important” Asasif collection will be moved to the recently opened Grand Egyptian Museum next year.
Egypt has sought to promote its archaeological heritage and recent finds in a bid to revive its vital tourism sector, which has suffered due to political insecurity and terror attacks.
However, critics point to archaeological sites and museums suffering from negligence and poor management.


Palestinian leaders ‘open to talks with Israel via Moscow’

Updated 03 June 2020

Palestinian leaders ‘open to talks with Israel via Moscow’

  • We trust President Putin to help stop annexation of parts of occupied West Bank, foreign minister says

AMMAN: Palestinian leaders would be open to a resumption of talks with Israel if they were brokered by Russia, Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad Al-Maliki said on Tuesday.

“We trust President Vladimir Putin and are sure that such a meeting would bear fruit, and succeed in getting us back to the talks, as well as stopping the Israeli plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank,” he said.

Al-Maliki said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had twice derailed Russian plans to hold discussions in Moscow. “Palestine is willing to have talks with Israel via video conferencing and under Russian auspices,” he said. “The Palestinian side will look into the idea if Russia felt it was feasible,” he said.

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Ofer Zalzberg, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, told Arab News that Moscow had been engaging separately with both the White House and Ramallah about stopping or postponing Israel’s controversial annexation plans, which Netanyahu has threatened to implement on July 1.

“The sticking point appears to be around whether Trump’s plan … has to be at the center of the discussions. It is not enough to agree on the channel of the talks, be it Russia or another one. The substance of the talks is important.”

Zalzberg said opponents of annexation were waiting for Palestinian leaders to propose their own peace plan and agenda for talks, and were frustrated that neither was forthcoming.

Efforts are also underway for Israel’s new defense and foreign ministers to meet key Arab leaders including King Abdullah of Jordan, to persuade them that annexation would damage the chances of peace.