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Uncovering a Sarcophagus

April 22, 2019

 

      In April, a Ptolemaic-era sarcophagus was unearthed in Menoufiya Governate, north of Cairo, Egypt.

     The sarcophagus has been said to be in remarkably good condition, being six feet tall, two feet wide, and containing the mummified, albeit poorly preserved, remains of two people likely buried during the reign of the Ptolemies.

     The Ptolemies reigned from 350 BCE to 30 BCE, stretching from the time of Alexander the Great’s conquest to the fall of Egypt as a major Mediterranean power. The Ptolemies took power when Egypt, a conquered territory of Alexander’s, was assigned to general Ptolemy to rule in the case of Alexander the Great’s death.

     Despite being under the rule of the family of a Greek general, mummification, Egyptian polytheism, and other traditional and religious practices unearthed with the sarcophagus remain due to the Ptolemies integrating into many of the practices of their subjects.

     While the corpses have yet to be carbon dated, artifacts, including clay pots, amphoras, various amulets and religious artifacts, and bronze coins depicting Ptolemaic rulers were found with the mummies.

     While little is known about the corpses as far as socioeconomic status, jobs, and affiliation with one another, as the story continues to develop, it can be assumed that the corpses were of some significant economic standing. This is understood because the corpses were mummified, a costly procedure, which stands in sharp contrast to the frequent poverty of the common people during the reign of the Ptolemies.

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