The largest Egyptian sarcophagus discovered so far in the Valley of the Kings has been identified, according to archaeologists working to reassemble the giant box.
The sarcophagus was reduced to fragments over 3,000 years ago, but archaeologists were still able to discover that it once belonged to Merneptah, reports Discovery News.
Merneptah was an Egyptian pharaoh who lives about 3,200 years ago. He was a warrior king who was possibly best known for his defeat of the Libyans and the “Sea Peoples” during a massive battle.
Along with this war, he also waged one against a group he called “Israel,” along with several others in the Levant. His account is the first known mention of the Israelites. When Merneptah died, he was entombed in a series of four sarcophagi nestled inside each other like a set of Russian dolls.
The largest Egyptian sarcophagus is the outer casing of Mermeptah’s final resting place. It measures a massive 13 feet long, seven feet wide, and is over eight feet tall. The behemoth’s lid is still intact and was initially incredibly colorful, notes NBC News.
Project director Edwin Brock, a research associate at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, stated, “This is as far as I know the largest of any of the royal sarcophagi.” It is likely that the four sarcophagi were nested together with the pharaoh’s body inside before they were brought into the tomb.
It was also probably brought in with a pulley system, as archaeologists discovered holed in the entrance shaft of the tomb. Brock stated:
“I always like to wonder about the conversation that might have taken place between the tomb builders and the people from the quarry. This study has shown a lot of interesting little human aspects about ancient Egypt [that] perhaps makes them look less godlike.”
Brock has been working on the largest Egyptian sarcophagus since the 1980s. He began by reconstructing Merneptah’s tomb from fragments that were “piled up in no particular order” in a side chamber. His efforts helped to launch a full reconstruction project that helped identify the sarcophagus as Merneptah’s final resting place.
[Image from ShutterStock]