Speed Reads

surprise of the century

Archaeologists thought this sarcophagus was empty for 150 years. It wasn't.

From the time an Egyptian coffin arrived in a Sydney university museum 150 years ago, it was listed as empty — until it was opened last year.

Researchers were shocked to find human bones, bandages, and beads from a funeral shawl under the lid, BBC reported.

Most of the body was missing, likely destroyed by tomb raiders before its discovery. But it's more than the dirt and debris archaeologists expected to find in the 2,500-year-old sarcophagus. And because the bones are exposed, scientists can test them to uncover mysteries about ancient Egyptian diets and diseases — something they couldn't do with an untouched mummy, USA Today reported.

Hieroglyphics show the coffin was created for a priestess or worshipper named Mer-Neith-it-es, and the museum's curator assumes her body is the one inside. The museum will still try radiocarbon testing to identify who was in the coffin — because it doesn't need another 150-year-old mystery.