Opening the Sarcophagus

There was a news story the other day, they have decided it is vitally pressing to go ahead and open the black sarcophagus I blogged about the other day.  I’m shocked by this.  There is a reason Egyptian Archaeology has slowed dramatically over the years ans it isn’t that we’ve uncovered everything… it’s because sometimes we get terribly excited about cats and dogs.

Some years I ago, I believe five or so, we found a tomb in an area where no tomb had ever been found before.  It was very exciting to Egyptologists.  After all, we stumbled upon it so it probably hadn’t been raided by grave robbers.  Oh the riches that could be inside.  There was some hype because what they expected was a rich tomb of nobility.  We got cats and dogs.

To be more accurate, inside was hundreds of thousands of mummified cats and dogs along with some other animals.  The center piece appeared to be a mummified bull (they aren’t just sacred in Hinduism).  The discovery was still incredibly magnificent and important, but there wasn’t a lot of gold entombed with the animals and there was some debate about what to do with the animals.

And archaeology keeps doing that to us.  Especially in Egypt.  It isn’t the first time a tomb that held nothing but mummified animals was found.  There was a shrine to Anubis found in one of the cities that was filled with mummified dogs.  Makes sense really: protector of the Ka during it’s journey to the other side and he’s a jackal headed deity, so mummifying Fido-Amun upon it’s death and putting it in the shrine to Anubis must be a good thing.  Plus, pharaohs and vizers and other nobility get their own mummification and tombs and most people probably liked their dogs better, even in Ancient Egypt…

But politics is still politics even 4,000 years ago, the difference was you couldn’t say you thought your dog was smarter or more attractive or more capable of being a leader than Pharaoh.  In many instances, these thoughts about their dogs being smarter were probably correct.  Pharaohs tended to be a little inbred.

This means over the next few months, opening a coffin from 4,000 years ago requires precautions, they’ll open the strange sarcophagus and reveal what’s inside.  It might be a body to match the bust that was inside the tomb (it is possibly more of a pit than a tomb like we think about with Tut or any of the other Valley of the King burials), but it might also be dogs or cats or an Apis Bull or a crocodile.  Or it might contain unused mummy wrappings, because we’ve found those in a few sarcophagi over the years in places where mummies were made.

Should be interesting.


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