Two Mummification Workshops Discovered at Saqqara

More incredible finds from Saqqara

mummification workshop

Mummified remains uncovered at Saqqara along with the mummification workshops. Courtesy Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

Egyptian excavations at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Saqqara, south of Cairo, have revealed two of the most complete mummification workshops ever discovered. Announced by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, the two workshops date to Egypt’s 30th Dynasty (c. 380–343 BCE) and served the Egyptian capital of Memphis. The team also announced the discovery of two large tombs, one from the Old Kingdom period (c. 2663–2181 BCE) and the other from the New Kingdom period (c. 1570–1070 BCE).

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Mummification in Egypt

The two mummification workshops are some of the newest discoveries at the archaeologically rich Saqqara necropolis, which includes funerary temples, tombs, and countless mummified remains. One of the recently uncovered workshops was used for human mummification, while the other was used for animals, a popular practice in ancient Egypt.

The human mummification workshop was divided into several small rooms with two stone beds upon which the deceased were placed. The roughly 6-foot-long, inclined beds ended in gutters to help drain and collect fluids. The rooms were filled with canopic jars, wrapping linens, resins for treating the body, and organ removal utensils.

Similarly, the animal mummification workshop contained limestone beds along with a large amount of pottery and bronze tools. The excavations also revealed several animal burials within the workshop itself, indicate that the workshop was used for the mummification of animals sacred to the cat goddess Bastet.


Statue of Men Khaber Ra from Saqqara. Courtesy Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

In addition to the mummification workshops, the team uncovered two large tombs. The first—described as “one of [Saqqara’s] most beautiful tombs” by Mostafa Waziri, Secretary-General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities—dates to the Old Kingdom period, specifically the Fifth Dynasty (c. 25th–24th centuries BCE). It belonged to a man named Ne Hesut Ba, who was the head scribe and priest of the gods Horus and Maat. The tomb was a rectangular mastaba, with a facade that contained offering scenes and hieroglyphic texts with the names and titles of the owner of the tomb and his wife. The tomb’s interior was similarly decorated with depictions of daily life, including agricultural and fishing scenes.

The second tomb belonged to a priest named Men Khaber Ra, who served the Canaanite-inspired goddess Qadesh during the 18th Dynasty (c. 16th–13th centuries BCE). The tomb was carved into a rocky outcrop with a limestone extension. The walls of the tomb were plastered with scenes of the owner with his wife and son sitting before an offering table. A niche built into the northern side of the tomb included a 3-foot-tall alabaster statue of Men Khaber Ra with four cartouches on his chest and shoulders mentioning pharaohs Thutmose III (c. 1481–1425 BCE) and Thutmose IV (c. 1401–1397 BCE).

Since large-scale excavations began at Saqqara in 2018, the site has continued to provide incredible finds from across the span of Egyptian history. According to Egypt’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Ahmed Issa, the incredible finds from Saqqara will serve as a major boost to the country’s tourism sector, making it a preeminent global tourist destination. “I assure you that Egypt, especially the archaeological site of Saqqara, has not yet revealed all its secrets and there are many more to come,” said Issa. All of the finds from Saqqara are expected to be brought to the Grand Egyptian Museum. The artifacts will be studied, preserved, and curated for future display.


Read more in Bible History Daily:

Hundreds of Egyptian Sarcophagi Uncovered in the Saqqara Tombs

Complete Book of the Dead Discovered at Saqqara


All-Access members, read more in the BAS Library:

Pharaoh’s Man, ‘Abdiel: The Vizier with a Semitic Name

Exodus Evidence: An Egyptologist Looks at Biblical History

Moses’ Egyptian Name

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