Archaeologists unearth 27 coffins buried 2,500 years ago in Egyptian tomb

A handout picture released by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities on September 20, 2020, shows one of fourteen 2500 year-old coffins discovered in a burial shaft at the desert necropolis of Saqqara south of the capital. (AFP)
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Updated 23 September 2020

Archaeologists unearth 27 coffins buried 2,500 years ago in Egyptian tomb

  • Egyptian antiquities officials believe the discovery to be the largest of its kind in the region

CAIRO: Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered 27 coffins that were buried more than 2,500 years ago in a pharaonic cemetery.

The sarcophagi were found at the Saqqara site in the governorate of Giza, south of the Egyptian capital, Cairo.

Egyptian antiquities officials believe the discovery to be the largest of its kind in the region. Saqqara was an active burial ground for more than 3,000 years and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Initial studies indicate that the coffins and shrouds inside have remained tightly sealed since burial, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities.

The discovery was part of an Egyptian dig in the Saqqara area which unearthed an 11-meter-deep well containing colorfully painted wooden coffins stacked on top of each other along with other smaller artefacts.

Khaled Al-Anani, the Egyptian minister of antiquities, postponed announcing the discovery until he could visit the site himself, where he thanked teams for working in difficult conditions.

Ahmed Abdel Aziz, a professor of pharaonic archeology at a private university, said: “This new discovery is not the first in the Saqqara archaeological area. Archaeological discoveries have increased over the past years which draw attention to this region.

“This prompted many archaeological missions from many countries to work in this region, trying to probe the depths of this region and the treasures hidden inside it.”

Al-Anani said the increase in archaeological discoveries and the number of projects recently implemented by the Ministry of Antiquities were down to political will and exceptional support from the Egyptian government.

He pointed out the importance of resuming the work of 300 archaeological missions from 25 countries after a hiatus of a number of years, including some working in Egypt for the first time such as the joint Egyptian Chinese archaeological mission.

There were about 50 Egyptian missions working at sites in governorates throughout the country and Al-Anani praised their efforts in helping to unearth more evidence of ancient Egyptian civilization.

Mustafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Egyptian Antiquities, said that Saqqara was one of the most promising historical areas when it came to archaeological discoveries, adding that he planned to continue working in the area with his mission members to uncover more secrets and treasures of the past.

He noted that new finds during the current excavation season would have a positive impact on tourism in Egypt at locations such as Giza, Saqqara, Luxor, and Aswan.

Mohamed Abdel Hamid, vice president of the Egyptian Association for Tourism and Archaeological Development, said that the discovery was a testament to the architectural development of the area that could be seen in King Djoser’s collection. The pharaoh was found in a step pyramid which was the first tomb in Egypt to be built using stones.

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Turkey blasts ‘unauthorized’ German search of Libya-bound ship

Updated 23 November 2020

Turkey blasts ‘unauthorized’ German search of Libya-bound ship

  • The Turkish foreign ministry said Germany’s Hamburg frigate stopped and searched the Roseline A commercial vessel without permission off the coast of Greece’s Peloponnesus peninsula
  • Footage filmed by the vessel’s crew and aired on Turkish television showed a quarrel between crew members and armed German soldiers who landed on the ship from a helicopter

ISTANBUL: Turkey accused the German navy on Monday of conducting an “unauthorized” search on a Turkish-flagged cargo vessel in a bid to enforce a United Nations arms embargo on Libya.
But the European Union’s Operation Irini — tasked with halting arms shipments to the strife-torn north African country — said it had made a “good faith” effort to get Turkey’s consent for the inspection and aborted it as soon as Ankara made its objections clear.
The Turkish foreign ministry said Germany’s Hamburg frigate stopped and searched the Roseline A commercial vessel without permission on Sunday evening off the coast of Greece’s Peloponnesus peninsula.
Footage filmed by the vessel’s crew and aired repeatedly on Turkish television showed a quarrel between crew members and armed German soldiers who landed on the ship from a helicopter.
The Turkish foreign ministry said the vessel was carrying paint and humanitarian supplies headed to the Libyan port of Misrata.
“This intervention was carried out with the consent of neither our country as the flag state nor the ship’s captain,” the Turkish ministry said.
“I am strongly condemning this unlawful intervention,” Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay added.
Ankara on Monday summoned the EU and Italian ambassadors as well as the German embassy’s charge d’affaires to the foreign ministry, conveying a diplomatic note protesting the “unauthorized” inspection, the foreign ministry said.
The action was “against international law,” the ministry said in the note, adding that Turkey reserved its right to compensation.
But both the operation’s European command and officials in Berlin said Turkey raised its objections only after the German soldiers had boarded the vessel.
“Everything went exactly according to protocol,” a German foreign ministry spokeswoman said.
Operation Irini said in statement that it had “made good faith efforts to seek (Turkey’s) consent.”
“When (Turkey) made it clear that it denied the permission to inspect the vessel, Operation Irini suspended the activities during which no evidence of illicit material was found,” it said.
Operation Irini’s official website says the mission reserves the right to board ships without permission when conducting so-called “friendly approaches.”
Libya has endured almost a decade of violence since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
Turkey backs the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in western Libya and views the EU mission as biased in favor of the eastern command — backed by the United Arab Emirates as well as Russia and France.
The warring sides agreed a cease-fire deal last month that paves the way for national elections on December 24.
But the process remains fragile and four EU powers involved in efforts to end the conflict issued a joint statement Monday threatening sanctions against “all Libyan and international parties” standing in the way of peace.
Operation Irini said the aborted inspection of the Turkish vessel was the fifth since the mission was officially launched on March 31.
Turkey last sparred with EU powers over inspections when a French frigate under NATO command sought in June to search a Tanzanian-flagged cargo ship.
Paris then complained that one of its ships was subjected to radar targeting by Turkish frigates while trying to inspect the cargo.
Ankara denied the charge.