The Discovery of 300-year-old Slave Quarters

Written By: Clare Kelly 

Just 22 miles from St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM), a team of archeologists, collectively from the Maryland Department of Transportation and SMCM, discovered 300-year-old slave quarters. Located at Newtowne Neck State Park, the remains were originally found in the middle of October, but as the digging continued the archeologists realized they had found something extraordinary. As reported by CNN travel on Nov. 2, 2020, the state park “was once the site of a Jesuit plantation in southern Maryland.” From the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration, Julie Schablitsky, the chief archeologist on the site, said, “This is a very rare and exciting discovery because we don’t have any similar types of sites…there was so much potential for this be erased but, by some sort of miracle, we still have evidence of their homes an lives after so many years.” According to CNN Travel news, the “site has remained almost entirely preserved.” 

According to an interview with WBALTV11, this project began around five years ago when the team completed a “site surveying excavation;” the excavation team was brought on site this mid-October. Remnants of wooden fencing, or a palisade, along with a “midden” filled with “oyster shells, animal bones, used pipes and even old coins” were among the artifacts discovered. As reported by WBALTV 11, scientists working on the excavation site found DNA on the items; this proved what area in Africa the enslaved people came from. The archeologists have finished excavating the site, but they plan to return next year to continue their research. 

On Oct. 27, the Maryland Transportation State Highway Administration released a press statement on the discovery and continuing excavation of the slave quarters. The excavation site is located near the Newtown Manor, where Jesuit missionaries once resided. Dr. Julie Schalitsky spoke of the Jesuit presence in the area. She mentions how the Jesuit missionaries of this area kept very organized records. Despite their record-keeping, not much information survived regarding the African Americans enslaved on the Manor, who worked in both the fields and the Catholic Church. Schalitsky said, “If there was ever a place in Maryland that holds the story of diverse cultures converging to find religious freedom in an environment of conflict, sacrifice, and survival, it is here.” While the Maryland Department of Natural Resources led the excavation, archeologists from SMCM also took part in the research as reported by The Baltimore Sun. 

In an interview with CNN, Schablitsky said that the land they were excavating had not been touched for years, or, as she put it, “had not been plowed for a while.” She explains that if the land had been plowed,  the site would have been further under the ground; however, “the soil remained intact.” 

One artifact found, as reported by CNN, was a 1740 George II coin. The identification of this coin must have been recently discovered, as only CNN’s Nov. 2 report mentions the discovery.

How Mail-in Ballots impacted the 2020 Presidential Election

Written By: Dylan Parham

Americans requested over 92 million mail-in ballots for the 2020 Presidential election, according to the U.S. Election Project. As of Nov. 6, over 65 million mail-in ballots were returned to election offices, leaving about 26 million mail-in ballots outstanding. The U.S. Election Project was created and maintained by the University of Florida political science professor Michael P. McDonald.  It tracks voter turnout for U.S. elections, including early voting. With the data from the following states; CA, CO, FL, IA, MD, ME, NC, NJ, NM, NV, OR, PA, UT. The U.S. Election Project reported that registered Democrats made up 44.1% of requested ballots while registered Republicans made up 26.7%. The gap in mail-in ballots requests by Republicans could be attributed to President Trump criticizing mail-ballots. On television, at rallies and on Twitter, Trump has falsely claimed that mail-in ballots “lead to massive corruption and fraud,” that foreign powers will “forge ballots” and that the “only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged.” The statement was reported by Times. In key swing states; Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa, Minnesota, mail-in ballots had up to about a quarter or more of the total ballots counted, also reported by the Times.

The Supreme Court has even weights in on mail-in ballots in three states. On Oct. 26, a 5-3 ruling upheld a federal appeals court ruling to disallow ballots to be received up to six days after the Wisconsin election. On Oct. 28, a tied decision allowed a lower court decision to allow Mail-in ballots to arrive three days after Election Day in Pennsylvania. However, the Trump campaign is currently filing a lawsuit to stop the certification of the election results in Pennsylvania and to “throw out” mail-in ballots that were received and counted after Nov. 3, according to the Associated Press. On Oct. 28, the court rejected two challenges to allow ballots to arrive up to nine days after Election Day, so long as it is postmarked by Nov. 3 in North Carolina. 

Mail-ballots were also one of the causes of the media’s delay calling a winner on Nov. 3. Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Alabama, and Mississippi started counting mail-ballots on the election. Other states had an abnormal amount of mail-in ballots. Michigan received more than 3.1 million absentee ballots for the general election. According to CNN, cities in Michigan with least 25,000 residents were given more time—an extra 10 hours on Nov. 2, the day before the election— to process but not count ballots. Processing includes removing ballots from their outer envelopes and preparing them for tabulation. On Nov. 7,  election officials in Pennsylvania released enough ballots to name former Vice President Biden the winner of their electoral college votes after days of counting mail-in ballots. As of Nov. 10, ballots are still being counted in Alaska, Arizona, California, and Georgia, many of which are mail-in ballots. In Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, these delays result in the Presidential race not being called by a few media outlets. In California, the wait is preventing four congressional races from being called. All according to the New York Times.  

On Nov. 10, 2020, the Maryland state board of elections reported that over 1.2 million mail-in ballot votes for president were counted compared to the two hundred thirty-two thousand counted for the 2016 presidential election.

The Race is Over: 2020 Election Results

Written By: Maeve Ballantine

After months of campaigning, debates, and ads for different candidates flooding phones, TVs and radios, the 2020 presidential election has finally come to its conclusion. America now has a new President: Joe Biden.

When Barack Obama completed his second term, most Americans thought they had seen the last of Biden. However, the former vice president announced he was running for office on April 25, 2019. He began campaigning along with the other Democratic candidates, including Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar. At first it seemed that Senator Sanders would be the candidate to receive the democratic nomination, with his victory in the Iowa Debate, however, Biden began gaining popularity, earning 49% of the popular vote in South Carolina, according to independent.co.uk. In early March, Buttigieg and Klobuchar both dropped out of the race and publicly endorsed Biden in his campaign. However, the race was stalled with the outbreak of COVID-19 in America. Most if not all of the public rallies had to be cancelled or downsized, which made campaigning itself difficult. However, while the rallies were cancelled, debates were still held. Therefore, Sanders and Biden went head to head on March 15, at an audience free debate. Sanders took this victory, however decided to end his campaign in April. In June, Joe Biden won the democratic party nomination and began his campaign trail against current President Trump

The summer consisted of campaigning and primary voting in different states, showing mixed results. In Delaware, Biden took 90% of the popular vote and 86% in New Jersey, showing a resounding support for the Democratic candidate. In Puerto Rico, however, the vote was a very close 56% victory for Biden. Initial campaigns were not the only course of action taken this summer. There were several debates between Biden and Trump. Results, of course, were mixed as they usually were; however, general consensus, according to a poll done by c-span, showed that Trump took a victory in the first debate. A second debate was scheduled but was ultimately cancelled due to COVID. The final debate, taking place on Oct.22, listed a victory for Biden, according to NBC. Finally, on Nov. 3, it was time to begin voting.

Since voting in person would be dangerous for some people who are immunocompromised or elderly, a good portion of the votes were cast through mail. There were still people who voted in person; however, the voting took much longer than it usually did. The country watched as the number of electoral votes climbed higher for each candidate, wondering who would be the first to reach 270. Finally, on Saturday Nov. 7, Joe Biden surpassed the needed amount of electoral votes, securing the victory for president. However, there are those who believe that there were cases of voter fraud, due to so many  votes being submitted through mail, and due to the fact that it took almost three days for the state of Nevada to submit all the electoral votes, but the answer is concrete. Biden is now the 46th President of the United States.

Terror Attack in Vienna, Target Unclear

Written By: Hannah Yale

On the night of Monday, Nov. 2, 4 people were killed and at least 14 others were wounded during a terrorist attack in the Austrian capital of Vienna. One gunman was killed by police. Witnesses from the scene claim that about 50 shots total were exchanged during the attack. The Vienna police originally believed that there were multiple attackers, but after a city-wide search, a search of the gunman’s apartment, and analysis of live footage from the attack, they determined that he had acted alone. The gunman, 20-year-old Kujtim Fejzulai, was called an Islamic State (ISIS) “sympathizer” by Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer. Fejzulai, who had both Austrian and Macedonian citizenship, had been jailed for 22 months in April 2019 after attempting to travel to Syria to join ISIS jihadists, according to Interior Minister Nehammer. BBC News reported that ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack on their news outlet, Amaq. 

The 4 victims who were shot and killed at the scene were: a 21-year-old man originally from North Macedonia who was described as a painter and a lover of football; a 24-year-old woman from Germany who had been studying at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and who was killed in front of the Salzamt restaurant where she worked as a waitress; a 39-year-old Austrian man who was shot in front of a bar and was later found dead; and a 44-year-old Austrian woman who was shot and died later in hospital of her wounds.

The shooting took place the night before a second COVID-19 lockdown in Austria, in an area Viennese locals call the “Bermuda Triangle”: a web of streets packed with bars, pubs, and city nightlife. It is also home to Vienna’s main Jewish synagogue, the Stadttempel. Authorities have not yet determined who was the target of the attack. Oskar Deutsch, the president of the Jewish Religious Community in Austria, said on Twitter that the shooting had occurred “in the immediate vicinity” of the temple, but that it was closed at the time and it was unclear whether the synagogue was specifically targeted. Nonetheless, Jewish communities are remaining vigilant, especially as antisemitic hate crime rates escalate across the globe. 

The Stadttempl was the only Jewish house of worship in Austria to survive the Nazi pogrom Kristallnacht, also called the “Night of Broken Glass.” The 82nd anniversary of Kristallnacht took place on Nov. 9, just days after the terror attack.

Three Die in French Terror Attack

Written By: Nicholas Ashenfelter

At a church in Nice, France, three lives were tragically lost by a reportedly Islamic terrorist on Oct. 29. In light of this tragedy, France is taking some controversial countermeasures to ensure their people are protected. 

The attack took place at the Notre-Dame basilica at 8:30 a.m. by a man wielding a knife. The victims were an older woman who was reportedly beheaded, a member of staff, and another woman who successfully fled the building but succumbed to her injuries later, The Guardian reports. A witness raised the alarm, and the police arrived at approximately 9:00 a.m. 

Jean-Francois Ricard, an anti-terrorist prosecutor, reports that the suspect was successfully apprehended. This suspect, Brahim Aioussaoi, is a Tusnian national who arrived in the country less than a month prior to the attack. Police are reviewing CCTV footage to better track his actions before the attack. 

David-Oliver Reverdy, a member of the union Alliance Police Nationale, expressed that law enforcement agents were operating under a “heightened terrorist threat,” but they lacked the manpower to watch everywhere at once. Reverdy applauded police actions, particularly that they arrived “quickly at the scene and were able to neutralize the individual before he could cause any further injuries or deaths.” In fact, The Guardian found there were two additional, unused knives inside the church. 

The Nice Mayor, Christian Estrosi, explained to ABC News that Aioussaoi “repeated endlessly ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is Greatest).” The French Council of the Muslim Faith denounced the attackers. They went so far as to ask believers over Twitter to forgo their Mawlid celebrations, which recognize Muhammad’s birth,  as a “sign of mourning and solidarity with the victims and their loved ones.”

The Washington Post reported two other attacks that occurred on the same day, one elsewhere within France and another in Saudi Arabia. In Montfavet, France, a man used a handgun to threaten police officers and was shot. In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, a guard watching the French consulate was attacked. He was placed in the hospital, where his life was not in danger, while the attacker was arrested. 

Estrosi drew a parallel also to the murder of Samuel Paty, a history teacher at a secondary school who showed his class cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammad. Images of Muhammad are incredibly offensive to Muslims, and in response to this, 18-year-old Abdullakh Anzorov killed him. Reportedly, two of Paty’s students received $355 to identify him as the killer. BBC reports that these students, as well as three of Anzorov’s friends and a man named Brahim C were charged by police in response to their actions. 

Emmanuel Macron, the French President, declared that the attacks were against “the values which are ours: freedom, for the possibility on our soil to believe freely and not to give in to any spirit of terror.” 3,000 troops were initially charged with protecting churches and schools across the county, but The Washington Post found Macron increased this number to 7,000 in light of the attacks. 

The French terrorist threat level has risen to the level in 2015-2016. According to Hugh Schofield, this is likely due to Paty’s incident in particular. The idea that the victim was “selected for murder” in a premeditated assault was frightening, and Macron’s “robust defence of secularism” at the memorial served only to further incense those already inclined to violence. 

Besides the controversial nature of the cartoons, Macron’s reaction has also seen mixed results, with Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish President, calling for a boycott of the nation’s goods. When speaking to BBC, Macron expressed his desire to enact harsher laws in opposition to “Islamic separatism.” He denounced the creation of a “counter-society,” which he would prevent through stricter oversight in schools and mosques. He believes that some community events are simply a “pretext to teach principles that do not conform to the laws of the republic.”

France has principles of separation of church and state, and some believe this violates that goal. In light of his promises, including the restriction of home-schooling, human rights activist Yasser Louati expressed over Twitter that “The repression of Muslims has been a threat, now it is a promise.” Macron’s assertion to The Guardian makes it clear that he is not changing his mind any time soon: “Enough is enough … we have to remove this Islamo-fascism from our country.”

NASA Discovers Water On the Sunlight Section of the Moon

Written By: Eleanor Pratt 

While things here on Earth have been extremely hectic for the past few weeks, there have also been exciting things going on above us. On Monday, Oct. 26, NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) confirmed that water is not only located on the dark and cold areas of the Moon but is also found in sunlit portions of the surface. This exciting discovery has far-reaching implications for the future of human space exploration and raises questions about the very nature of the Moon. 

A press release on NASA’s website explains that SOFIA detected water molecules in the Clavius Center, which is one of the largest craters visible to Earth. Further investigation revealed that there were roughly twelve ounces of water under about a cubic meter of soil spread far across the surface of the Moon. To put things in perspective, the Sahara desert has about 100 times more water than what was discovered. 

In the same press release, the director of the Astrophysics Division in the Science Mission Directorate Paul Hertz said, “Now we know [water] is there. This discovery challenges our understanding of the lunar surface and raises intriguing questions about resources relevant for deep space exploration.” That being said, Casey Honniball, the lead author of the study on the discovery, made a statement to make sure everyone understood what the find actually entailed. She explained, “This is not puddles of water but instead water molecules that are so spread apart that they do not form ice or liquid water.” 

Additionally, in a publication for the journal Nature Astronomy, scientists point out that there is a possibility that even more water could be trapped in the darker places on the moon where temperatures stay well below freezing. However, it is noted that the location of the water is most likely the result of local geography rather than something that occurs all over the Moon. 

The discovery of the water has led to more questions about how exactly it formed, as well as what uses lunar water may have for Earth. Addressing where this water came from, Honniball said, “Without a thick atmosphere, water on the sunlit lunar surface should just be lost to space,” she then continued, stating “Something is generating the water, and something must be trapping it there.”

In regards to how useful this water could be for us here on Earth, NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate Jacob Bleacher says, “Water is a valuable resource, for both scientific purposes and for use by our explorers,” and that “If [NASA] can use the resources on the Moon, then we can carry less water and more equipment to help enable new scientific discoveries.”

In the future, NASA plans to send more flights to look for water in other sunlight sections to learn more about how exactly this water is created, stored, and moved across the Moon’s surface. The Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover will soon be sent to the Moon to make the very first maps of the location of water, which scientists say is a huge step for human space exploration and knowledge.

D.C. Prepares for Riots, Instead Sees Celebration

Written By: Annilee Hampton

In the days leading up to the 2020 presidential election, the city of Washington, D.C., prepared to face potential riots for as long as months — but when the election was called, the city encountered not violence, but instead celebration. 

The city began preparing for possible unrest as early as a week before the election, with business owners boarding up their windows and students at George Washington University were advised to stockpile a week’s worth of food, supplies, and medicine the same way they would before a snowstorm or hurricane. In order to ensure adequate staffing, D.C. police had limited leave for their staff starting the weekend of Oct. 31st, and spent $130,000 restocking a supply of less-lethal munitions and chemical irritants for riot control, according to WUSA9. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser stated that public safety officials had been discussing plans for post-election unrest “for many weeks if not months.” “The Washington Post” stated thatD.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham told lawmakers in October:“It is widely believed that there will be civil unrest after the November election regardless of who wins. It is also believed that there is a strong chance of unrest when Washington, D.C., hosts the inauguration in January.”

However, the emotion that filled the city when the election was officially called on Saturday, Nov. 7, four days after Election Day, was not fear or unrest – it was joy. Moments after Joe Biden was declared to have won Pennsylvania, and therefore the election, cheers erupted throughout the city, with music playing from balconies and windows and drivers stuck in traffic honking their horns over and over again. Crowds marched to Black Lives Matter Plaza in front of the White House, where just five months prior protestors were forcibly removed from the area so that President Donald Trump could walk to St. John’s Episcopal Church. While the atmosphere was completely different on Saturday, one aspect of the protests still remained —a banner that read “Arrest Trump”.

Despite the large number of D.C. residents celebrating Biden’s victory, a number of Trump supporters expressed their displeasure with the result, with over one hundred gathering at the base of the Washington Monument, chanting “Four more years!” and “Stop the fraud!” This group eventually caught the attention of Biden supporters celebrating in the grass below, but did nothing to dampen their spirits, continuing to dance, enjoy picnics and popping bottles of champagne. 

As night fell, Black Lives Matter Plaza was still filled with hundreds of people, with the celebrations having gone on for over eight hours. People were celebrating not only Biden’s victory, but also Kamala Harris, who is not only the first female Vice President of the United States, but also the first Black woman and first South Asian woman to hold the position. “There is going to be a Black woman vice president of the United States — and no one, no one, can take that away from us,” said Angelique McKenna, a Black woman from Arlington, VA to a reporter from “The Washington Post.” “I believe Kamala will fight for equality for us, for all people.”

The music and cheers finally quieted on Saturday night, but was replaced with a new sound — that of Harris and Biden’s victory speeches, their words being played through a speaker. Crowds gathered together, listening as the historic address was made. “Our nation is shaped by the constant battle between our better angels and our darkest impulses,” President-Elect Biden declared. “And what presidents say in this battle matters. It’s time for our better angels to prevail. Tonight, the whole world is watching America, and I believe in our best, America is a beacon for the globe.”

The Discovery of a new family of Fish—Dragon Snakeheads

Written By: Clare Kelly 

Fishy business comes swimming when the time comes. On Oct. 19, headlines of a National Geographic article flashed with the words, “Dragon snakeheads—strange new underground fish—discovered in India.” The leader of research, Ralf Britz who is the ichthyologist at Senckenberg Natural History Collections said, “We think this is the most exciting discovery in the fish world of the last decade.” In southern India, a new family of snakelike fish was discovered. Believed to be primitive fish, they are considered a type of “living fossil.” 

As David Johnson, an ichthyologist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History said, “Dragon snakeheads have ‘a whole series of primitive characteristics.’” National Geographic cites that researchers expressed the possibility that the nearest relatives may have separated from this family over a hundred million years ago. Doug Main of National Geographic wrote that some of the rare traits found in these dragon snakeheads include “a shortened swim bladder and fewer vertebrae with ribs,” which are traits that “show the dragon snakeheads are less specialized than regular snakeheads.” In addition, this family of fish lacks a suprabranchial organ, which is essential to allow air to be breathed by Snakeheads. The Smithsonian magazine expands on this idea and writes that the dragon snakeheads might have developed away from the other snakeheads when Gondwana, a large continent of all the continents, broke into smaller continents, specifically when India broke away. According to Theresa Machemer, a freelance writer for the Smithsonian, during this process the dinosaurs still roamed the earth. 

The National Geographic expressed Britz’s thoughts that the commonality of this occurring is not very frequent, in fact finding a new group of fish is not common. Britz speaks of the finding of a new “taxonomic category above genus and species:” in this family of fish, there are only two distinct species. 

One distinctive aspect of these fish includes their way of moving in the water, in which they move their vertical to create motion that moves them forward and backward. It is hypothesized that this form of moving allows navigating the porous underground places which they habited. As Britz says, the fish moves “like a veil in the wind.” 

Britz also mentioned how the name of the fish family matches the fish because “everyone who sees a photo of the fish is somehow reminded of a dragon.” The “long-bodied fish” resides in an underground layer where rocks are porous; they are not often detected with one’s eyes. The only time they are cited with a surface sighting includes floating to the top of the water when a flood happens. 
The studying of this fish began when someone discovered the fish in their backyard in 2018. Rajeev Raghavan, a researcher from Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies and a study co-author, shared the photo with Britz, who reportedly had, “no idea what it was.” He was unable to identify the type of fish, taxonomy, or the group that the fish belonged in; therefore, he journeyed to India in 2019 to conduct research. After some research, the team named the fish Aenigmachanna gollum, or the Gollum snakehead, but after another sighting of the fish in a town in Kerala, a state in India. The research Britz and his team completed allowed a clearer perspective on the anatomy and genetics of the fish; this proved that the fish belonged in a different family.

Wildfires Ravage Colorado Even as Snow Falls

Written By: Eleanor Pratt 

The fight against Colorado’s two largest wildfires continues even as the state experiences multiple snowstorms. The fires are thought to be the worst in the state’s history, burning over 400,000 acres altogether. While the snow is certainly better than nothing, experts warn that it may not be enough to stop the fires completely.. 

The East Troublesome Fire is only 20% contained and has burned over 196,560 acres so far. According to the Denver Post, the fire began rather recently on Oct. 14, in Hot Sulphur Springs. The Cameron Peak Fire is slightly more contained at 64% but is considered to be the biggest in Colorado’s history after burning more than 208,600 acres. This fire has been burning since Aug. 13. Both have now moved into the Rocky Mountain National Park, but as of right now the park has not suffered too much damage. 

On Sunday, Oct. 25 and Monday, Oct, 26, many were glad to see upwards of 6-12 inches of snow in areas where the fires were burning the worst. Places such as Larimer County were even lucky enough to have around 20 inches of snow. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis told NPR “We’re grateful for snow which fell heavily on our state over the weekend, and really gave the firefighters a much better chance at being able to keep these fires away from major population centers.” 

The snow helped officials to conduct damage assessments on homes and other structures in the area, according to the Denver Post. Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin made a statement that the assessment had found 100 homes to have been destroyed by the East Troublesome Fire, but that they were “finding more every direction [they] turn around.” It has been hard for law enforcement to determine whether burned structures are actually homes, or are other types of structures such as barns or detached garages.

The Cameron Peak Fire, on the other hand, has destroyed over 426 structures, including 209 residential homes and 108 outbuildings, according to sheriff’s officials in Larimer County. Unfortunately, the snow has been a blessing and a curse for those living in Colorado. While it has allowed officials to begin to assess the damage done by the fires, the snow has also made travel slower and more dangerous as the roads are now icy and slick. 

Unfortunately, authorities also warn, “The snow has slowed fire activity; however it is not expected to be enough to put the fire out. Temperatures are forecasted to gradually warm back up beginning Tuesday.” In fact, according to atmospheric scientists working at Colorado State University, Colorado has been having record high temperatures in recent years due to climate change, and these huge fires will continue to happen unless something is done soon. 

Firefighters are hard at work trying to contain these awful fires and are grateful that the snow has given them “…a good quiet couple of days,” as the East Troublesome fire incident commander Noel Livingston told the press. However, even when firefighters do manage to fully stop the burning, as long as nothing is done to combat climate change, more and more of these massive fires will continue to occur.

Ancient Egyptian Sarcophagus Opened After 2600 Years

Written By: Eleanor Pratt 

Just in time for the spookiest month of the year, archeologists in Saqqara, Egypt have opened a 2600 year old sarcophagus. Egyptian researchers officially opened the sarcophagus on Saturday, Oct. 3, as press and dignitaries looked on. These researchers informed the press that the mummies found were most likely the bodies of priests, government officials, and other powerful members of ancient Egyptian society.

The incredibly well-preserved wooden coffin was discovered in September, along with 58 others. The mummy inside the sarcophagus was also surprisingly well-preserved, according to Smithsonian Magazine, with the burial linen used to wrap the body maintaining its original inscriptions and colorful designs. The coffins date back all the way to Egypt’s 26th Dynasty, which experts claim occurred from 664-526 BCE.

In addition to the many sarcophagi found, archaeologists also discovered 28 statues of the god Ptah-Soker, as well as a small bronze statue of the god Nefertum. According to Khaled el-Anany, the Egyptian Minister of Antiquities and Tourism, these finds will most likely be displayed in the Grand Egyptian Museum, which plans to open in Giza in 2021. 

These incredible artifacts were found in the Saqqara necropolis, which was a large ancient cemetery in the ancient city of Memphis. NBC reports that the site not only contains the famous Giza Pyramids but that this cemetery is also quite renowned for having many lavish tombs. However, the site has had a fair amount of damage over the last few centuries due to looters and illegal excavations, making the near perfect state of the sarcophagus very impressive and exciting. 

El-Anany also told journalists of Agence France-Presse that “[T]oday is not the end of the discovery,” and that instead, he considers, “…it the beginning of the big discovery.” This excitement was shared by Mostafa Waziri — the general director of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities– who told NBC that the tomb reminded him very much of the finding of King Tutankhamun because both were found in a state of almost perfect preservation. 

Finding these coffins and artifacts could not have come at a better time for Egypt. The country has been trying to draw in more tourists but has been having a lot of difficulties. The tourism sector has been hurting badly since the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011, according to NBC. Additionally, tourism to the country has been further hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic. Egyptian officials hope that displaying these incredible finds, along with many other recently discovered artifacts, in their new museum will generate more travel to the country. 

It is not everyday that 2600 year old sarcophagi are discovered and opened. It seems that 2020 always has something new in store for the world, but fortunately, this surprise was a happier one.