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Ancient Egypt

Ancient Sarcophagus Discovered

Edited from BBC News, 17 February 2000

Archaeologists in the year 2000 announced the discovery of the symbolic tomb of the ancient Egyptian god, Osiris, buried deep underneath one of the Giza pyramids.

According to Egyptian archaeologist, Zahi Hawass, the discovery of the granite sarcophagus became possible after water levels inside the pyramids sank. The sarcophagus was estimated to date from 500 BC, during the Late Period's 27th Persian Dynasty. It was surrounded by the remains of four pillars which had been built in the shape of a hieroglyphic 'House of Osiris'.

Ruler of the underworld

Osiris, father of Horus, was one of the most important gods of ancient Egypt. According to mythology he was murdered by his wicked brother Seth (otherwise known as Seti or Sutekh). He was buried by Isis, his sister-wife, and brought back to life as the judge of the dead and ruler of the underworld. His appearance was of a mummified man wearing a white cone-like headdress with feathers.

The Greek historian, Herodotus, mentioned the existence of this tomb in his description of Egypt in the middle of the fifth century BC, but it had never been possible until now to access it due to the high water levels.

Deep underground

After the sediment and water were cleared from the shaft which was located between the Sphinx and the Pyramid of Chefren (Khafre), archaeologists found three underground levels, with the submerged Osiris sarcophagus at the lowest, about thirty metres below the surface.

Zahi Hawas had been waiting for quite some time to be able to access the shaft. His chance finally came when the water went down about a year ago. Many people already believed that there were tunnels connecting to the Sphinx and another leading to the Great Pyramid, but only when the researchers sent a young boy into a tunnel in the west wall did they find this exciting discovery.

The excavation also unearthed 3,000 year-old bones and pottery found in the underground water.



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