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Cosmic Science

Egypt’s Saqqara site yields still more mummies

It’s only been a month since Egyptian archaeologists took the wraps off the discovery of scores of mummies at Saqqara — and now they’re adding to the site’s store of archaeological treasures.

Today the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced that about 100 coffins dating back as far as 2,600 years have been found inside a network of buried shafts at Saqqara, Egypt’s oldest-known pyramid site. And there’s still more to come.

The Saqqara necropolis. about 20 miles south of modern-day Cairo, has been under excavation for several seasons. This year, it was the focus of a Netflix documentary titled “Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb,” and the most recent finds will be covered next year in a Smithsonian Channel series called “Tomb Hunters.”

Last month’s revelations related to the discovery of 59 decorated coffins dating back to the 26th Dynasty, in the time frame from around 664 to 525 B.C.E. Today’s follow-up focused on coffins and artifacts from ancient Egypt’s Late Period (664 to 332 B.C.E.) as well as the Greek-influenced Ptolemaic dynasty (320 to 30 B.C.E.)

One of the coffins was opened to reveal a nearly perfectly preserved mummy within. An X-ray scan suggested that it was a male who was in his 40s when he died, with teeth in perfect condition.

Wooden statue
Remains of ancient paint are still visible on a wooden statue recovered from the Saqqara site. (Smithsonian Channel Photo / Caterina Turroni)

Mostafa Waziri, general director of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, told NBC News that the man must have been wealthy and might have had royal connections, based on the way the arms were crossed over his chest. “We still have a lot to reveal,” he said.

In addition to the coffins, 40 “impressive statues” were found at the site, the ministry said in a Facebook posting.

The artifacts will be moved to museums in Cairo, including the yet-to-be-opened Grand Egyptian Museum, for further analysis and display. Still more discoveries will be announced in Saqqara soon, said Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Anany.

Egyptian officials are turning up the spotlight on archaeological finds in hopes of whetting interest in tourism, which has been hard-hit due to political turmoil and the coronavirus pandemic.

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GeekWire

Amazon drone delivered to the Smithsonian

Amazon drone
An Amazon Prime Air drone is prepared for display at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. (Smithsonian Photo)

Amazon’s drone delivery service is still in its experimental phase, but it’s already destined to become a part of American history at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum.

An Amazon Prime Air hybrid drone is being prepared for display in the museum’s Thomas W. Haas We All Fly gallery when it opens in Washington, D.C., in 2021. The “We All Fly” exhibition will highlight general aviation themes such as sport flying, private airplanes and flying for business, humanitarian and utility purposes.

The drone will go on display alongside such aircraft as the Cessna 180, Gates Lear jet, Cirrus SR22 and the Oracle Challenger III aerobatic biplane.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

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GeekWire

Apollo 11 spaceship slated to stop by Seattle

Apollo 11 command module
The Apollo 11 command module, shown here at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., is due to go on a road trip in 2019. (Credit: Smithsonian Institution / NASM)

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum is laying the groundwork for a 50th-anniversary traveling exhibit featuring Apollo 11 space hardware, including the moon mission’s command module – and Seattle’s Museum of Flight could be a prime stop.

The 2019 road show is the Smithsonian’s preferred solution to an awkward problem: what to do with artifacts from the historic 1969 moon landing while a section of the museum in Washington, D.C., is being renovated.

Get the full story on GeekWire.