Mummies buried more than 2,500 years ago with their brains removed have been found. Archaeologists in Egypt have announced the discovery of 59 well-preserved and sealed wooden coffins. The team opened one of the ornately decorated sarcophagi in front of journalists on Saturday. The mummified remains inside were wrapped in burial cloth which was covered in brightly coloured hieroglyphic inscriptions. The mummies had their brains removed with iron hooks through their noses after the organ was liquefied with a mixture of chemicals.
It is thought Ancient Egyptians removed the brains because they decomposed first and were of little use in the afterlife, according to their understanding of the body. They believed that the brain was the centre of emotion and the heart the centre of intelligence. The large haul of mummies was unearthed south of Cairo in the sprawling burial ground of Saqqara, the necropolis of the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis.
“We are very happy about this discovery,” said Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Aljazeera reported. The discovery of the first coffin was announced three weeks ago. In the time since dozens more have been discovered in shafts that reach up to 12m underground.
“I have witnessed the opening of one of the coffins … the mummy seems as if it was mummified yesterday,” Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani said. In recent years excavations at Saqqara have unveiled mummified snakes, birds and scarab beetles. All the coffins discovered in September and this month are due to be taken to the soon-to-be-opened Grand Egyptian Museum on the Giza Plateau. The museum will host thousands of artefacts, spanning multiple eras of Egypt’s history, from the pre-dynastic to the Greco-Roman period.