Egyptian mummies found in Kyiv Cathedral

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A truly historical discovery. Two Egyptian mummies along with elaborately decorated sarcophagi were found in Kyiv’s Pechersk Lavra. The artifacts spent several decades in a museum depository and were discovered by archaeologists earlier this year during an audit.

Masked faces, eyes sparkling with fascination. Journalists, historians and government officials have gathered in the halls of Kyiv-Pechersk Museum Complex, all eyes on the four wooden, cloth-covered boxes. History spanning thousands of years hides here. The Egyptian artifacts date as far back as the 11th century before Common Era. The first box contains a rare mummified 161-centimetre crocodile.

Mykola Tarasenko, Doctor of Historical Sciences

This mummy comes from the Temple of Horus and Sobek at Kom Ombo. Crocodiles were considered to be sacred to Sobek. I know only of 2 or 3 crocodiles this big in Italy. And there’s one in the British museum.

Nearby — the lid of another sarcophagus — almost 3 thousand years old — also covered in white cloth. Inside, lies a woman named Menat who was a singer in the temple of Amon in Egypt.

Mykola Tarasenko, Doctor of Historical Sciences

We don’t know yet where the bottom part of the sarcophagus is. Maybe it did not survive or is in one of the world’s museums. We’ll look for it.

And this is the lid of the man’s sarcophagus. The chin has an orifice where an artificial beard is secured. Historians are yet to figure out the identity of the man in the sarcophagus. They are sure, however, that he was an elite. His type of burial was customary in the 11th through 10th centuries BCE in Thebes, the capital of ancient Egypt.

And, here is the most intriguing find. This woman’s hands are positioned as is common only in male burials. According to historians, her head was accidentally severed from her body during frequent transportations. The sarcophagus has numerous inscriptions dedicated to gods of different pantheons.

Yevhen Nyschuk, Minister of Culture of Ukraine

For Ukraine, these kinds of findings are a testament to the fact that relics of other world civilizations are stored on our territory. This gives the possibility for a whole school of egyptology to develop. The finds will be exhibited to a wide audience. Soon we’ll organize either on this complex’s territory, or in another museum, a special hall designed with all the conditions in mind to preserve these artifacts.

The last time these items were exhibited in Kyiv was in the 1950s and 1970s. The Egyptian artifacts back then were used in atheist propaganda. The mummies came to Kyiv in the second half of the nineteenth century. At first they were stored in private collections but finally came to rest here in Kyiv’s Pechersk Lavra.

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