|Journalists gather around an ancient sarcophagus more than 2500 years old, discovered in a vast necropolis in Saqqara, Giza, Egypt. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)|
Recently a proverbial treasure trove of mummies have been unearthed in Saqqara, Giza, Egypt revealing more than 100 ancient coffins, including 40 gilded statues. Fortunately, the Egyptian government seems to have control of the rare archeological cache.
In a well organized press briefing earlier this week, Mostafa Waziri, the secretary-general of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities speaks about an ancient sarcophagus more than 2500 years old discovered in a vast necropolis located south of Cairo.
|Egyptian antiquities officials last month announced the discovery of at least 100 ancient coffins, some with mummies inside, and around 40 gilded statues south of Cairo. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty).|
It appears fortunate that the discovery site appeared to be a looter free zone, according to media reports last week. That reality buys time for professional archeologists to exam these virtual time capsules. Current X-ray visualizing is aiding in separating the mummies from the empty coffins. Doing the early math 2,500 years ago puts Egypt at 500 BC or the Late Period just before Alexander’s Conquest (Circa 664-332 B.C.).
According to History.com, for almost 30 centuries—from its unification around 3100 B.C. to its conquest by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C.—ancient Egypt was the preeminent civilization in the Mediterranean world. From the great pyramids of the Old Kingdom through the military conquests of the New Kingdom, Egypt’s majesty has long entranced archaeologists and historians and created a vibrant field of study all its own: Egyptology.
The main sources of information about ancient Egypt are the many monuments, objects and artifacts that have been recovered from archaeological sites, covered with hieroglyphs that have only recently been deciphered.
The picture that emerges is of a culture with few equals in the beauty of its art, the accomplishment of its architecture or the richness of its religious traditions. The era that describes Egypt when many of the newly discovered coffins were sealed begins in the eighth century B.C.
Nubian pharaohs beginning with Shabako, ruler of the Nubian kingdom of Kush, established their own dynasty–the 25th–at Thebes. Under Kushite rule, Egypt clashed with the growing Assyrian empire. In 671 B.C., the Assyrian ruler Esarhaddon drove the Kushite king Taharka out of Memphis and destroyed the city; he then appointed his own rulers out of local governors and officials loyal to the Assyrians.
One of them, Necho of Sais, ruled briefly as the first king of the 26th dynasty before being killed by the Kushite leader Tanuatamun, in a final, unsuccessful grab for power.
Beginning with Necho’s son, Psammetichus, the Saite dynasty ruled a reunified Egypt for less than two centuries. In 525 B.C., Cambyses, king of Persia, defeated Psammetichus III, the last Saite king, at the Battle of Pelusium, and Egypt became part of the Persian Empire.
|Darius I (above at work) consolidated what he created as the Persian Empire. Under Darius I, he conquered Egypt and it wasn’t until Darius III lost it all to Alexander the Great in 332 BC.|
|Again, working with estimates, the newly discovered coffins were probably sealed during the Persian rule. When Persian ruler Darius (522-485 B.C.) led the country largely under the same terms as native Egyptian kings: Darius supported Egypt’s religious cults and undertook the building and restoration of its temples. This most likely kept the tradition of mummification burials by the well to do.|
The tyrannical rule of Xerxes (486-465 B.C.) sparked increased uprisings under him and his successors. One of these rebellions triumphed in 404 B.C., beginning one last period of Egyptian independence under native rulers (dynasties 28-30). In the mid-fourth century B.C., the Persians again attacked Egypt, reviving their empire under Ataxerxes III in 343 B.C.
|Alexander Mosaic (c. 100 BC), ancient Roman floor mosaic from the House of the Faun in Pompeii, Italy, showing Alexander (before he was Great) fighting king Darius III of Persia in the Battle of Issus.|
Barely a decade later, in 332 B.C., Alexander the Great of Macedonia defeated the armies of the Persian Empire and conquered Egypt. After Alexander’s death, Egypt was ruled by a line of Macedonian kings, beginning with Alexander’s general Ptolemy and continuing with his descendants.
|Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt by Michelangelo, 1535|
The last ruler of Ptolemaic Egypt–the legendary Cleopatra surrendered Egypt to the armies of Octavian (later Augustus) in 31 B.C. Six centuries of Roman rule followed, during which Christianity became the official religion of Rome and the Roman Empire’s provinces (including Egypt).
The conquest of Egypt by the Arabs in the seventh century A.D. converted Egypt and its ancient culture to Islam, which holds true towards its modern incarnation.
HISTORY.COM LIST OF EGYPTIAN DYNASTIES. Click here.
|CULTURAL ASPECTS OF THE WORLD IN 500 BC. Then population 100,000,00. (85% Asia Europe Africa) and 15% MesoAmerica.|