Live Television Opening of an Egyptian High Priest’s Tomb Certainly Did Not Disappoint
On Sunday night, in an unprecedented live event, the sarcophagus of a 2,500-year-old Ancient Egyptian high priest was opened by intrepid Discovery Channel adventurer, television personality, and author Josh Gates and the enigmatic egyptologist Dr. Zahi Hawass. And it all happened on live TV.
World’s First Live TV Sarcophagus Reveal
Expedition Unknown: Egypt Live aired on April 7 at 8 p.m. ET on Discovery and this televised event was the first time that an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus had been and broadcast live. Josh Gates and Chris Jacobs joined egyptologist Dr. Zahi Hawass and Mostafa Waziri, the secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities in what was the next step in an effort by Egypt to promote extraordinary archaeological finds, attempting to revive tourism after the 2011 uprising against former president Hosni Mubarak.
One of the 50 recently discovered mummies belonging to the Ptolemaic era (323-30 BC) found at the Tuna El-Gebel site in Minya. (Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities)
The High Priests Tomb
The tomb was discovered in the 1920s about 165 miles south of Cairo at the archaeological site of Al-Ghorifa. An antiquities inspector discovered the sarcophagus of a high priest which led to a necropolis of large chambers, tunnels and tombs. According to the press release by Discovery the mummy was found alongside a “mysterious wax head,” which specialists believe might be an exact cast of the priest.” Discovery also said that the features were so detailed “he could have easily been picked out on the street.”
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A wax head was the first item to be found in the sarcophagus. (© Discovery Inc.)
The two hour live program brought viewers through the burial site to the inner chambers of the priest’s tomb where two other mummies were found; one inside the ‘Family Tomb’ where the team found jars that had been used to store a mummy’s organs.
The other mummy had inscriptions on its sarcophagus revealing the person was once a singer in the temple of Thoth, the Ancient Egyptian lunar god with the head of a baboon or ibis, who was associated with writing and knowledge. The high priest’s sarcophagus was decorated with gold banding and artifacts, as he was a “Great of the Five Priest of Thoth”.
The buried priest, possibly a high priest of Thoth, was found with a massive gold cross laid over the body. (© Discovery Inc.)
The Ongoing Incredible Adventures of Dr Hawass and Josh Gates
A Smithsonian article refers to Zahi Hawass as, “A regal combination of showman and scholar, he ruled a netherworld of tombs and temples, investigating age-old mysteries - the burial place of Antony and Cleopatra, the cause of death of Tutankhamen - for rapt television audiences.” In “Chasing Mummies: The Amazing Adventures of Zahi Hawass,” the History Channel a reality television series followed the intrepid archaeologist and his trainees on adventures.
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Dr Hawass examining a tomb in the Valley of the Golden Mummies. (Guardians.net)
Besides the dramatic world of television, Dr. Hawass has made a number of major discoveries including the Tombs of the Pyramid Builders at Giza and the Valley of the Golden Mummies at Bahariya Oasis. He also discovered two Old Kingdom pyramids, one near the Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza, and one belonging to a queen of King Teti at Saqqara. So what better a partner than Josh Gates who had already filmed in the infamous ‘cursed’ tomb of King Tut?
One of the mummies found in the so-called Valley of the Golden Mummies. (Bensozia)
For five years Josh hosted and co-executive produced the hit Syfy Channel series, Destination Truth, investigating age-old mysteries, cryptozoology and paranormal events and now he is the host and executive producer of the new Travel Channel series, Expedition Unknown. Traveling to some of the world’s most remote corners the series swings around Josh’s humor and passion for exploration.
According to an article in Newsweek when asked about the opening of the ancient coffin Josh Gates told reporters it was:
“An amazing experience… There aren’t many people who can say they’ve gone down into unexplored ancient tombs, especially with a living legend like Dr. Hawass.”
And Leslie Greif, executive producer of Expedition Unknown said in a statement “We’re thrilled to be part of these two epic events here in Egypt.”
Image: Live opening of sarcophagus revealed a perfectly preserved mummy with gold cross. Source: © Discovery Channel / Youtube Screenshot)
By Ashley Cowie