a mummy being excavated in Egypt

Ancient Egyptian 'funeral home' was one-stop shop for the afterlife

New evidence shows priest-embalmers were savvy entrepreneurs who offered burial packages for every budget.

In a tomb deep below the desert, Egyptologist Ramadan Hussein (left) and mummy specialist Salima Ikram (right) examine the coffin of a woman who was laid to rest inside a limestone sarcophagus weighing more than seven tons.

Photograph by Lina Zilinskaite, National Geographic

The discovery made headlines around the world when it was first announced in July 2018: Archaeologists had unearthed an ancient Egyptian “funeral home” deep beneath the sands of Saqqara, a sprawling necropolis—city of the dead—located on the banks of the Nile less than 20 miles south of Cairo.

In the two years since, thorough analysis of the finds and new discoveries in a nearby shaft filled with tombs have yielded a trove of information about the business of death in ancient Egypt. For centuries, archaeology in the land of the pharaohs was focused on uncovering inscriptions and artifacts from royal tombs rather than the details of day-to-day life. Mummification workshops probably existed at necropolises all over Egypt, but many

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