If you’re still waiting for a glass of sarcophagus sewer water from the big black mysterious marble coffin opened in Alexandria, Egypt, recently, keep holding your breath (a smart thing to do around that vile liquid anyway). On the other hand, if you were hoping for confirmation of your theory that the soaked skeletons swimming in said sarcophagus sewage were not soldiers but something else, you were right about at least one of them. And fear not, water waiters -- no one has poured the sewer water back into the sewer … yet.
When the mysterious stone sarcophagus was opened recently, three skeletons were found, along with the water indicating that this coffin had been unsealed before. According to an announcement by Dr. Mostafa Waziri, Secretary- General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, all of the contents were turned over to Dr. Zeinab Hasheesh, Director of the Department of the Skeleton Remains Studies at the Ministry of Antiquities. The analysis of the skeletons was performed by Dr. Nadia Kheider, Head of the Central Department of Antiquities of Lower Egypt (Those Egyptians are serious about their antiquities!)
According to Dr. Kheider, pelvic size showed that one skeleton belonged to a woman between the age of 20 to 25 years old, with a height around 160 to 164 cm (around 5 foot 4 inches). The second one belonged to a man between the age of 35 to 39 years old, with a height ranging between 160 to 165.5 cm while the third skeleton was a man between the age of 40 and 44 years old and its height was between 179 to 184.5 cm (almost 6 foot). It’s doubtful that the woman was a soldier, so the original theory that the three skeletons were in the military is now questionable.
Anther interesting find by the researchers was a hole in one skull that the owner appeared to have lived with for a while, indicating it was probably the result of trepanation surgery, where a hole is bored or chipped to relieve pressure, drain fluid or just poke around. While trepanation was common elsewhere, it was not in Egypt. Even more interesting was the presence of gold flakes or sheets inside the bones. There was no speculation in the report how this happened. Finally, the remains were found stacked on top of each other, indicating the sarcophagus had been opened multiple times.
One poor unnamed researcher was tasked with studying the infamous sewage water which over 20,000 people had petitioned to drink. They may change their minds when they find out it was a mix of water, decomposed human remains and decomposed burial wrappings. Just to be sure (or perhaps as punishment for some work infraction), the researcher will be conducting further tests on the sewage water. DNA tests will also be done on the bones to determine if they were related.
Who were the people in the mysterious black sarcophagus? What was wrong with the person who had their skull drilled? Why was there gold in the bones? Why was such a large sarcophagus in an elaborate tomb used so many different times? The research will continue.
It’s a good thing Egypt has so many antiquities experts.