EGYPT-ARCHAEOLOGY

What Was in That Egyptian Sarcophagus?

Intrepid archeologists open the 2,000-year old relic to reveal...

Construction workers digging a foundation in Alexandria, Egypt, earlier this summer uncovered a mysterious bit of history. Buried 16 feet below the ground was an ancient tomb holding a black granite sarcophagus measuring approximately 6 feet high by 9 feet long by 5 feet wide and weighing in at some 33 tons. Though it is unmarked, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities have dated it back to the Ptolemaic period, circa 323 B.C. Soon after officials announced the discovery, speculation began swirling that the sarcophagus could be cursed, with many invoking the fantastical "curse of the pharaohs," which supposedly plagues any who dare disturb an ancient Egyptian mummy. Archaeologists took their chances and opened the tomb on July 19. Here, a glimpse of what they found.

THE FINDINGS -/AFP/Getty Images THE FINDINGS Inside, they discovered three sets of human remains. One skeleton bears an arrow wound, leading scientists to speculate that the remains may be those of ancient warriors. And that red liquid? According to Mostafa Waziry, the head of Egypt's Supreme Council for Antiquities, it's sewage water, which leaked in from a crack on the sarcophagus' side, causing the mummies to decompose. ALABASTER BUST -/AFP/Getty Images ALABASTER BUST Alongside the sarcophagus, archaeologists also discovered an alabaster head, which at the time had been believed to represent the tomb's inhabitant. With three sets of remains uncovered, however, the mystery of the bust only seems to have deepened.

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WHAT NEXT? -/AFP/Getty Images WHAT NEXT? The three skulls will now be analyzed to determine their ages and causes of death. And that ancient curse? Well, so far so good. "The sarcophagus has been opened, but we have not been hit by a curse," Waziry wryly told The Guardian.



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