History

Egypt reopens vast underground necropolis

Egyptian officials have reopened the Serapeum of Saqqara, a vast underground necropolis south of Cairo dedicated to the bulls of Apis, after 11 years and complete renovation of the historic site.

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An archaeologist with the Supreme Council of Antiquities attends the re-opening of the "Serapeum," the burial place of the sacred Apis bulls which has been closed for many years, at the Saqqara archaeological site, 19 miles south of Cairo. 

AP Photo/Thomas Hartwell

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Egyptian guards wait to greet guests arriving at the entrance to the site. Saqqara is a vast, ancient burial ground in Egypt, serving as the necropolis for the Ancient Egyptian capital, Memphis. Saqqara was discovered by Auguste Mariette in the 1850s and was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979.

AP Photo/Thomas Hartwell

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The Serapeum, whose origin dates back to around 1400 BC, was discovered in 1851 by French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette, founder of the first department of Egyptian antiquities.

AP Photo/Thomas Hartwell

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Egyptian guards greet visitors at the entrance to the Serapeum. 

AP Photo/Thomas Hartwell

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A sarcophagus, one of 24 ancient burial caskets, was on display during the re-opening of the the Saqqara archaeological site.

AP Photo/Thomas Hartwell

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Mohammed Abd al-Sitar, 28, an archaeologist with the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities points out a hieroglyph on a sarcophagus.

AP Photo/Thomas Hartwell

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The site, which was closed temporarily in 2001 because of water seepage and earth movements, holds huge subterranean galleries in which are contained the large tombs of some 30 sacred bulls, accompanied by steles bearing inscriptions providing information on the reigns under which the animals lived. 

AP Photo/Thomas Hartwell

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Mohammed Ibrahim, the secretary of state for antiquities, told AFP that Egypt was working to open to the public other pharaonic sites in a bid to revive tourism, which took a hit following months of political instability.

AP Photo/Thomas Hartwell

Egypt reopens vast underground necropolis

Egyptian officials have reopened the Serapeum of Saqqara, a vast underground necropolis south of Cairo dedicated to the bulls of Apis, after 11 years and complete renovation of the historic site.

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