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Archaeologists opened the SARCOPHAGI
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Top photo credit: Courtesy of Ministry of Antiquities–Arab Republic of Egypt

Egypt is a country that is known for its history and historical artifacts, and the country has certainly not disappointed lately.

Archaeologists opened the SARCOPHAGI last month of 30 recently uncovered ancient wooden coffins.

Turns out, the mummies were perfectly preserved! The coffins are covered with colorful inscriptions and engravings that are in excellent condition.

The coffins are believed to be about 3,000 years old and were found where Thebes—the royal capital of ancient Egypt—once stood.

The coffins weren’t the only neat find in the area. Archaeologists also found ancient workshops and a pottery kiln nearby, and they expect to find more ancient treasures as they continue searching!

On top of the recent discovery of the new coffins, Egypt has also been in the news because of King Tut’s coffin.

King Tutankhamun’s tomb was first discovered nearly 100 years ago. The tomb is 3,300 years old and its discovery still stands as one of the most legendary archaeological finds ever.

While the tomb was discovered in 1922, the outermost coffin had never been removed from the tomb before now.

There are three coffins that fit inside of each other and once held King Tut’s mummy. The outermost coffin, measuring 7-feet, 3-inches long and made of wood, is now being restored by experts. It was badly damaged with cracks and missing parts, and experts believe it will take about eight months to repair.

da Vinci Design Bridges Past to Present

Can you imagine sketching something that would be studied 500 years later? Yes, 500 years!

Leonardo da Vinci probably didn’t think that would be the case for his drawings, but that is exactly what happened. Recent MIT graduate student Karly Bast worked with a professor and an undergraduate student to build a scale model of a bridge designed by da Vinci in 1502 A.D.

This model shows 126 stone block shapes that work! That year, Leonardo da Vinci came up with a unique idea for a Sultan who wanted to connect two neighboring cities. The famed inventor described his bridge idea in a letter to the Sultan and sketched it in his own notebook.

However, even Leonardo da Vinci wasn’t always successful—he didn’t get the job and the bridge was never built. The MIT team was curious if the bridge would have worked, so they looked at the available documents, the materials that were used in construction back then, and the geological conditions of the proposed bridge site. 

The bridge would have been the longest span in the world at the time. Leonardo da Vinci’s design was dramatically different than anything else in use at the time and would have crossed the 900-plus foot span with a single enormous arch.

“It’s incredibly AMBITIOUS,” Bast said to MIT News. “It was about 10 times longer than typical bridges of that time.”

Because da Vinci provided no details about how he would actually construct the bridge, the team factored in all of the details of the time period and determined that the bridge would have been made of stone without any fasteners or mortar. 

To prove their theory, the team built a scale model that was 32 inches long. Their bridge was conducted of individual blocks made on a 3D printer. The model is composed of 126 blocks and each block took about six hours to print, which means the blocks took about 726 hours just to print!

The team assembled the blocks and found that da Vinci’s idea was solid.

“It’s the power of geometry” that makes it work,”  Bast said. “This is a strong concept. It was well thought out.” 

One of the reasons they’re working so hard on the restoration is that the coffin will soon be on display in a new museum. The Grand Egyptian Museum will open in 2020, overlooking the Pyramids of Giza. The 75,000-square-foot building will be the largest museum in the world dedicated to one civilization. It will feature more than 5,000 artifacts found in King Tut’s tomb. It will certainly be something to see!

Edition: 
Phoenix
Issue: 
November 2019