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- Experts say black granite sarcophagus found in Alexandria measures 8.6 ft long
- It was buried 5m deep during Ptolemaic period, which lasted from 332-30 BCE
- Archaeologists also found alabaster head, likely representing the tomb’s owner
Egyptian archaeologists have discovered what’s thought to be the largest granite sarcophagus ever found in Alexandria, measuring nearly nine feet long.
The massive stone casket was buried more than 16 feet beneath the surface alongside a huge alabaster head – likely belonging to the man who owned the tomb.
Experts say the ancient coffin has remained untouched since its burial thousands of years ago during the Ptolemaic period.
Researchers working under the Supreme Council of Antiquities discovered the ancient tomb during an excavation in the Sidi Gaber district of Alexandria.
The team was inspecting a resident’s land ahead of digs planned for the foundation of his building at Al-Karmili Street when they stumbled upon the remarkable Ptolemaic burial 5 meters deep.
The Ptolemaic period lasted roughly 300 years, from 332-30 BCE, making this particular site more than 2,000 years old.
According to the archaeologists who led the dig, the black granite sarcophagus stands at 185 centimeters tall (6 feet), 265cm long (8.6 ft), and 165 cm wide (5.4 ft).
A layer of mortar identified between the lid and body of the stone coffin indicates it has not been opened since it was sealed off, says Dr. Ayman Ashmawy, Head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Sector.
Just who is buried inside, however – and the identity of the man in the alabaster carving – remains a mystery.
Back in May, the Antiquities Ministry announced the discovery of yet another Ptolemaic find.
The team unearthed the ruins of a huge Roman bath at the San El-Hagar archaeological site.
Alongside the 52-foot-long red brick structure, archaeologists also found pottery vessels, terracotta statues, bronze tools, a chunk of engraved stone, and a statue of a ram.
The most remarkable artifact, however, is among the smallest.
A gold coin depicting the face of King Ptolemy III, a 3rd century BCE ruler said to be an ancestor of Cleopatra, was also discovered at the site.
WHAT IS EGYPT’S VALLEY OF THE KINGS?
The Valley of the Kings in upper Egypt is one of the country’s main tourist attractions, situated next to the Giza pyramid complex.
The majority of the pharaohs of the 18th to 20th dynasties, who ruled from 1550 to 1069 BC, rested in the tombs which were cut into the local rock.
The royal tombs are decorated with scenes from Egyptian mythology and give clues as to the beliefs and funerary rituals of the period.
Almost all of the tombs were opened and looted centuries ago, but the sites still give an idea of the opulence and power of the Pharaohs.
The most famous pharaoh at the site is Tutankhamun, whose tomb was discovered in 1922.
Preserved to this day, in the tomb are original decorations of sacred imagery from, among others, the Book of Gates or the Book of Caverns.
These are among the most important funeral texts found on the walls of ancient Egyptian tombs.
According to the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, the coin was made during the reign of King Ptolemy IV, in memory of his father.
It measures 2.6 centimeters across, and weighs roughly 28 grams. On the side opposite the portrait, letters translating to ‘Land of Prosperity’ were engraved, along with the name of the king.
The huge red brick building was likely part of a Greco-Roman era bath, says Dr. Ayman Ashmawy, Head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities.
It is roughly 16 meters long and 3.5 meters wide.
As work continues at the archaeological site, the researchers hope to uncover more details about the building and its function many centuries ago.
Excavations over the last few years have unearthed countless remarkable artifacts from ancient Egypt, which the country hopes will spur tourism to the area.