Egyptian sarcophagus opened live on TV

Credit: Wikimedia Commons / NotFromUtrecht

An ancient Egyptian sarcophagus was opened live on television during a special two hour broadcast on the Discovery Channel on Sunday 7 April.  This live opening was presented by Chris Jacobs and the explorer Josh Gates, during the Expedition Unknown programme.

Generally ancient Egyptian sarcophagus’ are opened in the utmost secrecy so as to not stir up too much attention or interest.  However in the last few years Egypt has struggled to attract tourists who used to flock to the country in their millions.  What better way to reverse this effect by an exceptional event like this?  In collaboration with Egypt’s antiquities ministry a team of researchers were allowed to open a sarcophagus live on television, while of course keeping the exact location of the opening a secret.  Viewers had the chance to discover what was inside this ancient 3,000 year old tomb at the same time as archaeologists.  This will have certainly delighted fans of Egyptian archaeology!

Mysterious limestone sarcophagus

Researchers moved around  a network of underground chambers and tunnels that had been recently discovered containing 40 mummies believed to be noble elite. They discovered artifacts like statues, amulets and jars used to store organs.  In one of these recently analysed chambers, was a “mysterious limestone sarcophagus“.  According to the Discovery Channel the “identity of the mummy inside has been a mystery for 3,000 years” until Sunday night.

It took several members of the team to open the sarcophagus.  However inside they discovered the remains of linen wrapped mummy surrounded by treasure some of which was gold.  According to the researchers it looks like a royal burial.  The explorer, Josh Gates said that he believed the mummy to be a high priest of Thoth.  Thoth was the ancient Egyptian god of wisdom and magic and dates back to Ancient Egypt’s 26th dynasty who ruled until 525 BC.

Presenter of the programme, Josh Gates in front of the Great sphinx of Gizeh in Egypt. Credits : Discovery Channel

A revival of interest in Ancient Egypt

This live broadcast of the opening of a sarcophagus will perhaps spark a renewed interest in Ancient Egyptian archaeology.  In the past Egypt had a thriving tourist industry with people from around the world flocking to the country to see the ancient artifacts of the Egyptians.  In the wake of political unrest tourist numbers have dropped with 8.3 million visitors in 2017 in comparison to 14.7 million in 2010.

However there seems to be a renewed interest in Egyptian archaeology and in March a extensive exhibition about the pharaoh Tutankhamum opened in Paris. King Tut: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh will be open until 23 September in the Grande Halle de la Villette and then is expected to tour the world.


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