Gender and Age of “Black Sarcophagus” Skeletons Identified

The genders, ages and height of the three “Black Sarcophagus” skeletons found in Alexandria in July have been identified says the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, the team also finding gold chips from badges which are set to be identified.

Discovered in July, it was speculated that the remains were likely to have been soldiers or military officials, with initial studies of the remains showing significant head trauma to one of the skulls which was suggestive of arrow inflicted battle wounds.

“A Team of specialists extracted the remains from the flooded coffin and started to remove the dust and clay from the bones, gradually drying and then cleaning them. Specialists also documented, recorded, and took photos of the remains.” – Ayman Ashmawy, Chief of the Egyptian Antiquities Sector
The black sarcophagus

A team of researchers headed by Zeinab Hasheesh, director of the Department of the Skeleton Remains Studies at the Ministry of Antiquities have now revealed significant details surrounding the human remains, including their height, gender and ages.

Nadia Khadr, Chief of the Central Administration of Antiquities in Lower Egypt, says that the remains are of two men and a woman.

“The first skeleton was a woman aged between 20 and 25 years-old, and was between 160 and 164 cm. The second was a man aged between 30 and 35 years-old, measuring between 160 and 165.5 cm. The third skeleton was a man aged between 40 and 44 years-old. He had a strong body, with measurements of 179 and 184.5 cm” – Nadia Khadr, Chief of the Central Administration of Antiquities in Lower Egypt
Antiquities experts examine remains found inside the granite sarcophagus. Photo: Egyptian Antiquities Authority.

Despite initial speculation that one of the skeletons had died from an arrow wound to skull, the team now believe that the older male had lived with the wound for some considerable time and had undergone surgery. No relation between the trio has been established.

“[The skull with the hole likely shows] trepanation surgery where a burr hole is drilled or scraped into the human skull. This surgery is the oldest surgical intervention ever known since pre-history, but was rare in Egypt,” Hasheesh said in the press release. Few skulls with this surgery were found in Egypt among those found in Qasr Al-Eini Hospital museum and both skulls found in Maya and Merit’s tombs in Saqqara Necropolis.” – Nadia Khadr, Chief of the Central Administration of Antiquities in Lower Egypt
Antiquities experts examine remains found inside the granite sarcophagus. Photo: gyptian Antiquities Authority

The so-called “black sarcophagus” is a 27 tonne, 9ft by 5ft structure that was untouched since its original burial, the largest sarcophagus to ever be found in such a condition. The sarcophagus was located sixteen feet underground and the findings have been dated to the Ptolemaic dynasty, the last dynasty of ancient Egypt who ruled from 305 BC to 30 BC during the Hellenistic period.

The gold panels found inside a granite sarcophagus. Photo: gyptian Antiquities Authority

Referencing the social media hysteria of doom and gloom should the sarcophagus be opened, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa Waziri said in July that the mummies unfortunately were not in the condition that might have been hoped.

“We’ve opened it and, thank God, the world has not fallen into darkness… We found the bones of three people, in what looks like a family burial… Unfortunately, the mummies inside were not in the best condition and only the bones remain.” – Mostafa Waziri, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities
Closer view of the contents of the sarcophagus

The red water inside the tomb was likely caused when well or sewer water mixed with the remains, coming from a nearby building and entering into the sarcophagus through a small crack.

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