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.


Major roads reopened in Lebanon after 2-day closure

Updated 14 November 2019

Major roads reopened in Lebanon after 2-day closure

  • The roads linking Beirut with the country’s south and north were opened shortly before noon Thursday
  • Thousands of people attended the funeral of a 38-year-old father who was shot dead by a soldier at a protest Tuesday night

BEIRUT: Lebanese troops reopened major roads around Lebanon Thursday after a two-day closure triggered by a TV interview with President Michel Aoun in which he called on protesters to go home.
The roads linking Beirut with the country’s south and north were opened shortly before noon Thursday, as well as others around the country.
Protesters have been holding demonstrations since Oct. 17 demanding an end to widespread corruption and mismanagement by the political class that has ruled the country for three decades.
Aoun said Thursday that the demands of protesters are being followed adding that “they will be among the top priorities of the government that we are working on forming in the near future.”
Aoun expressed hopes in comments released by his office that a new Cabinet “will be formed in the coming days” after removing obstacles that have been delaying the formation.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned his government on Oct. 29, meeting a key demand of the protesters. Since then there have been disagreements over the new Cabinet as Hariri insists it should be made up of technocrats who will concentrate on solving Lebanon’s worst economic and financial crisis in decades while other politicians, including Aoun, want it to be a mixture of technocrats and politicians.
“Dealing with the developments should be based on national interests that need cooperation from all sides to achieve pursued goals,” Aoun said.
Caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil tweeted that the priority is to form a “salvation government” and prevent anyone from taking the country into a confrontation. Bassil is Aoun’s son-in-law and close aide.
The opening of the roads came a day after protesters started building a wall inside a tunnel on the highway linking Beirut with north Lebanon leading to an outcry by the public who saw it as a reminder of the 1975-90 civil war.
In the town of Jal Al-Dib, just north of Beirut, troops pushed away protesters from the highway and removed barriers that had been blocking the road since Tuesday night.
In the town of Choueifat south of Beirut, thousands of people attended the funeral of a 38-year-old father who was shot dead by a soldier at a protest Tuesday night. Alaa Abou Fakher’s death marked the first such fatality since the economically driven demonstrations against the government engulfed the country last month.
That protest was ignited by comments made by Aoun in a televised interview, in which he said there could be further delays before a new government is formed.
Abou Fakher’s coffin was carried through the streets of Choueifat as women dressed in black threw rice on it from balconies in a traditional Lebanese gesture.
Bank employees announced they will continue with their strike on Friday for the fourth day amid concerns for their safety as some of them have been subjected to insults by bank clients who were not allowed to withdraw as much as they wanted from their accounts. The country’s lenders are imposing varying capital controls that differ from bank to bank, fueling the turmoil.