National Geographic has released never-before-seen footage from within ancient Egypt's first known fully intact funeral home. In conjunction with Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities, a team of archaeologists led by Dr. Ramadan Hussein from Germany's Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, uncovered the burial complex, dating back to 600 BC, deep beneath the sands at the Saqqara necropolis less than an hour's drive south of Cairo.
The new, four-part series Kingdom of the Mummies produced for National Geographic by BBC Studios follows the team as they explore the subterranean chambers and open four sealed, 2,600 year-old sarcophagi to unlock secrets forgotten since the age of the Pharaohs.
Premiering Friday 5 June at 20:00 on National Geographic (DStv 181), and airing globally in 142 countries and 43 languages, Kingdom of the Mummies tracks Dr. Hussein's team, along with Egyptologist Prof. Salima Ikram from American University in Cairo, mummy expert Dr. Stephen Buckley from University of York, digital archaeologist Dr. Matthias Lang from University of Tübingen, geoengineer Dr. Ayman Hamed of Suez University and paleoradiologist Prof. Sahar Saleem from Cairo University, as they make a host of new finds and decipher clues about Egyptian burial processes.
In addition to uncovering the first known, fully integrated funeral complex with dedicated areas for organ removal, embalming and burial, the team's learnings are helping reveal more about death - and the business of death - in ancient Egypt. The latest scientific testing and scanning of the tombs, their relics and the remains of the deceased also add layers of meaning and context to the lessons being gleaned about the sacred rites and commerce that were conducted in this subterranean space.
"The tomb contains mummies of both rich and poor people, as well as evidence of the funeral packages and quality of goods on offer. The evidence we uncovered shows the embalmers had very good business sense. They re-used chambers and re-sold sarcophagi to maximise the capacity of the complex," said Dr. Hussein.