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Coffins Found in Egypt Likely Belong to Thousand-Year Cult

King Teti's rule began in 2323 BC; the remains date to a much later period
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2021 1:01 PM CST

(Newser) – A decade of archaeological work at a site near Egypt's Pyramid of Teti has paid off. Leading Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass on Sunday announced that the temple of Queen Neit—wife of King Teti, whose rule began in 2323 BC—has been uncovered. The AP reports burial shafts measuring as deep as 40 feet and containing at least 50 wooden coffins were also found nearby. But the remains contained within date to the later New Kingdom period of 1550BC to 1186BC, with Live Science reporting that they likely belonged to members of a Teti-worshipping cult that persisted for more than a thousand years and desired to be buried near the pharaoh.

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The discoveries occurred at the famed Saqqara necropolis south of Cairo, and CNN reports that the find confirms the site functioned as a burial site during the New Kingdom period and not just during the much later Late Period, which ran from 525BC to 332BC. But another item discovered in the burial shafts is arguably just as intriguing: a 13-foot-long papyrus that holds Chapter 17 of the Book of the Dead, "a collection of spells aimed at directing the dead through the underworld," per the AP. The name Pwkhaef was found on the papyrus, indicating that was the person who owned it; that name also appears on one of the wooden coffins. Live Science reports that other copies of Chapter 17 take a Q&A format; whether this copy does so as well hasn't been revealed. (Read more discoveries stories.)

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