Earlier this week, many wondered if it was such a great idea to lift open the lid of a giant 9-foot-long sarcophagus recently uncovered in Alexandria, Egypt. Was it cursed? What could be inside such a large coffin?
Did we really want to know?
One Ministry of Antiquities official, Ayman Ashmaway, had an idea: “We are hoping this tomb may belong to one of the high dignitaries of the period,” he said last week, adding that a carved alabaster head, discovered with the tomb, was “likely that of a nobleman in Alexandria.” Some even thought it could be the tomb of Alexander the Great himself.
The sarcophagus, it should be said, is truly massive. It is, according to the Daily Express, the “largest ever sarcophagus found in Alexandria,” measuring 6 feet tall and almost 9 feet long. It’s also made of black granite, weighing in at about 30 tons.
Historians dated the find to around the Ptolemaic period (anywhere from 305 BC to 30 BC). We’re talking over 2,000 years old. In fact, its unique size and appearance is what led so many to question the importance of this ancient coffin. And worry.
Would opening the tomb unleash an ancient Egyptian curse, dooming the planet to an era of pain and misfortune? Would a 9-foot-tall mummy arise from the grave and turn into a giant sand face or something?
Well, I can say this much: Now that they’ve cracked it open, experts and spectators alike are equal parts disappointed and intrigued.
“We’ve opened it and, thank God, the world has not fallen into darkness.” – Mostafa Waziri
Inside the sarcophagus, archaeologists found no jewelry or riches, but three skeletons, each submerged in what’s been described as disgusting “sewer water.” Nothing else.
A dignitary this was not.
The liquid’s odor was so terrible, in fact, that the archaeologists had to momentarily retreat (Maybe this is the real curse, if any — Ancient Egyptian aspiration pneumonia).
Another Ministry of Antiquities official, Shaban Abd Monem, stated that “preliminary examination suggests the skeletons belong to three army officers.” One of the skulls also has signs of an “injury of an arrow.”
Many online commenters, however, remain curious. Some believe there’s more to the story that we’re missing, that this particular burial is quite unlike others found in the past. Why was the coffin so large? Why three buried together? And no mummification? Perhaps, some think, this was a kind of terrible punishment. We’ll have to wait and see what conclusions the experts draw.
At any rate, the sarcophagus and all three skeletons are now en route to the Alexandria National Museum for further study.