Egyptian scientists and engineers on Thursday unexpectedly began to open the lid of a mysterious black sarcophagus, discovered in early July in the city of Alexandria, the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram writes.
The lid has now been depressurized and raised by only five centimeters, but the commission of the Ministry of Antiquities Affairs of Egypt suspended the work and decided to evacuate all observers of the process, as it fears the evaporation of toxic gases from the sarcophagus sealed more than two thousand years ago.
"Only scientists and engineers will remain on the site ... Poisonous gas, which can be released at the autopsy of sarcophagi, is capable of causing serious harm to human health, even to the point of death," the scientist working on the site said.
The newspaper stresses that the operation to open the sarcophagus began quite unexpectedly, journalists were not invited to the site, despite recent statements by the Ministry for Antiquities of the country, which promised an extremely open operation for the public. "The commission of the Ministry arrived on the site to open the sarcophagus unexpectedly, accompanied by enhanced protection, journalists were not allowed," one of the eyewitnesses said.
Untouched by the marauders sealed mysterious giant sarcophagus of black granite weighing 25-30 tons was discovered in early July while carrying out construction work under one of the buildings in the city of Alexandria. At the same place at a depth of five meters were found 40-centimeter fragment of a statue of a man from marble and some other artifacts. Scientists believe that the statue and artifacts can relate to a person who is buried in a sarcophagus.
It was reported that in the excavation area, probably, monuments of the Hellenistic period of the history of Egypt (about 332-30 BC) will be found. In the same area are already open burials dating back to the IV century BC.
The mystery of the sealed sarcophagus has generated a lot of rumors in the Egyptian and European media. In Egypt, they speak of the "curse of the pharaoh" and the fact that the sarcophagus, most likely, has not yet been discovered and looted because of some "evil" imprisoned in it. Fears warm up the unusual black color of the monument, as well as its giant dimensions (265 centimeters in length, 185 - in height and 165 - in width) - sarcophagi of this size have never been found in Egypt before. The Western press made the assumption that the sarcophagus may belong to Alexander the Great himself, the burial place of which has not yet been found. Egyptian scholars deny all rumors. According to their assumption, the sarcophagus can belong to the priest of IV-III centuries BC.