Scientists identify ‘mummy juice’ in Egyptian sarcophagus

Scientists identify ‘mummy juice’ in Egyptian sarcophagus

Scientists identify ‘mummy juice’ in Egyptian sarcophagus

In Alexandria, Egypt, there was an opening of a mysterious, black granite sarcophagus that dates back to the time when Alexander the Great invaded the city, in 332 B.C.

This 2,000-year-old black, granite sarcophagus was found in Alexandria, Egypt. Inside, archaeologists found a mix of sewage and skeletons.

At the time the discovery was announced earlier this month, there was speculation that the massive coffin held the remains of Alexander and that the opening of the sealed and foreboding box would trigger a curse. It doesn’t seem to be true… unless it causes some kind of torment.

In the sarcophagus archeologists found, along with the sewage, the remnants of three skeletons. These may be the soldiers, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities said in a statement issued in Arabic.

Images posted by the Ministry reveal that sarcophagus which was full of liquid sewage, which must have seeped in at some point. The studies of the remains of the skeleton is ongoing, but the results show that one of the person found in the sarcophagus was suffered by an arrow, the ministry said in the report.

No inscriptions or artworks on the outside or inside the sarcophagus have been found. The researchers have said that it is unclear artifacts, if any, were buried in the skeletons. A man’s alabaster head was found near the sarcophagus when it was discovered.

Archaeologists with Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities prepare to open the black granite sarcophagus. 

The sarcophagus, which is nearly 9 feet long, 5 feet wide and 6 feet tall (2.7 by 1.5 by 1.8 meters) — the largest found in Alexandria — was discovered with a thick layer of mortar covering much of it, Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, said in a statement released by Egypt’s antiquities ministry. The mortar led Waziri to suggest that the sarcophagus was never opened after it was buried in Alexandria. It’s uncertain if that suggestion is accurate.

The sarcophagus was discovered by archaeologists from the Ministry of Antiquities who were inspecting an area of land in the Sidi Gaber district of Alexandria before construction took place. Researchers opened the sarcophagus at the site where it was discovered.

The opening of the sarcophagus creates a series of new mysteries for Egyptologists to tackle: Who were these three people? When exactly did they live? What killed them? Why were they buried in such a giant sarcophagus? What were they buried with (if anything)? And how did so much liquid sewage get into the sarcophagus?

Three skeletons and liquid sewage were found inside the black sarcophagus from Alexandria, Egypt.

After the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C., a line of pharaohs descended from one of Alexander’s generals ruled Egypt for centuries. Once the last pharaoh, Cleopatra VII, killed herself in 30 B.C., the Roman Empire took over Egypt. These pharaohs were involved in numerous wars and conflicts, and it’s possible the three individuals found in the sarcophagus were killed in one of these squirmishes. One of the skeletons shows signs of an arrow injury, suggesting the three may have died in battle. The exact age of the skeletons is unclear.

Why three skeletons, which may be those of soldiers, were buried in a sarcophagus so massive — Waziri said it may be the largest ever found in Alexandria — is also unknown. In ancient Egypt, it was not uncommon for a sarcophagus to be reused, the bodies of its former occupants removed and new occupants put inside. Whether that occurred with this sarcophagus is unknown.  

It’s also unclear what artifacts, if any, were buried with the skeletons. Any objects placed in the sarcophagus could have been destroyed by the sewage or may be found later, when the object is studied in more detail. After the sarcophagus was opened, it was transferred to Alexandria National Museum for conservation and further study.

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