First Public Display of 16-meter-long Papyrus Found in Saqqara Casket
The exciting discovery of a 16-meter-long (52.5 ft) ancient papyrus found in a sarcophagus in Egypt's Saqqara region has now been unveiled. A papyrus of this size and quality had not been discovered in over a century. The restored artifact that dates back to 50 BC and contains passages and images of the Egyptian Book of the Dead has now been put on display at the Egyptian Museum on Tahrir Square, Cairo for all to see. It really is an impressive document from Egypt’s deep past.
The Saqqara site where it was discovered, a vast necropolis of the ancient Egyptian capital Memphis, is a UNESCO World Heritage site that's home to pyramids, animal burials, and even ancient Christian monasteries.
At first, scientists believed the ancient scroll to be only 9 meters long (29.5 ft), but after a thorough restoration and translation process in the restoration laboratory of the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir, it was revealed to measure an astounding 16 meters (52.5 ft), reported the Egypt Independent.
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Mostafa Waziri, examining the extraordinary document. (Supreme Council of Antiquities)
The papyrus has been named the “Waziri Papyrus” after Mostafa Waziri, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, who made the exciting announcement. It contains texts from the Pharaonic Book of the Dead of its owner, Ahmose, and was found inside one of 250 caskets at the Saqqara site, noted Arkeonews.
Ahmose is mentioned a total of 260 times in the script, which is mostly black ink with some texts in red. The script contains 113 chapters from the Book of the Dead, as well as scenes of Ahmose worshipping Osiris, amongst many other images. The script would have been prepared by priests in anticipation of his death.
Some of the 250 mummy sarcophagi unearthed in Saqqara south of Cairo. The ancient papyrus was discovered within one of the caskets. (Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities)
Ancient Papyrus Contains Texts from Book of the Dead
The Pharaonic Book of the Dead is an ancient Egyptian funerary text which was written on papyrus scrolls and buried with the deceased in their tomb. The texts contain declarations, hymns, and spells that were intended to help the deceased navigate the treacherous journey to the afterlife. It also includes illustrations and vignettes that depict the journey of the soul through the underworld and the different gods and goddesses the deceased would encounter along the way.
The Book of the Dead is an important source of information on ancient Egyptian beliefs and practices related to death and the afterlife. It is considered an important document of ancient Egyptian culture and religion and continues to be studied by scholars and Egyptologists around the world.
The Waziri papyrus. (Supreme Council of Antiquities)
Papyrus Will Be Displayed at Opening of Grand Egyptian Museum
The date the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities chose to make the announcement of this incredible find was January 14th. This was in recognition of the annual Egyptian Archaeologists Day, due to the fact that this latest discovery is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the country's archaeologists.
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More images and text on the Waziri papyrus. (Supreme Council of Antiquities)
The papyrus is currently the centerpiece of the completed first phase of the renovation of the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square.
Ahmed Eissa, Egypt’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities stated at the opening of the newly renovated wing where it is currently housed, “Today we announce the completion of the first phase of the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square's renovation as we are delivering a message to the whole world that the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square is still developing”.
The newly-discovered papyrus containing the Book of the Dead spells will provide a deeper understanding of one of the world's most fascinating ancient cultures.
Eventually, the papyrus will be one of thousands of exciting artifacts that visitors will be able to view when the Grand Egyptian Museum opens later this year.
Top image: Part of the 16-meter-long document from Saqqara that includes illustrations and text from the Book of the Dead of Ahmose. Source: Supreme Council of Antiquities
By Joanna Gillan