A black granite sarcophagus, found in Egypt earlier this month in Sidi Gaber district in Alexandria, has now been opened by a scientific archaeological committee. The sarcophagus had been discovered intact and sealed, so a mystery covered its content, with rumour spreading rapidly. Now, experts have opened it and found in it the skeletons of three individuals and sewage water.

Dr. Mostafa Waziri, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities who was also head of the committee, made the announcement that the sarcophagus contained three skeletons, probably of warriors, and was filled with sewage water from a sewage trench that leaked nearby.

The odour of the liquid within the sarcophagus was unbearable, so initially the lid was lifted by just 5cm and Egyptian military engineers were summoned at the scene to help with opening the lid entirely.

The mummies have not been preserved, so only the bones remain from the burial, but archaeologists think it was a family burial. All three individuals were probably military officers or warriors, according to specialist Shaaban Abdelmoneim, as a wound from an arrow has been found on one of the skulls.

The skeletons will be transfered to the stores of the National Museum of Alexandria to be subjected to restoration and studies.

The sarcophagus will be also removed from the site after carrying out the first aid restoration to Mustafa Kamel Antiquities stores in cooperation with the Northern Military Region (Engineering Authority).

The item is the largest of its kind ever found intact, since it is almost two metres high and three metres long. It weighs about 27 tonnes and preliminary dating points to the early Ptolemaic period. Further studies will hopefully help archaeologists identify the sarcophagus’ exact dating and how the individuals buried within did.