After wide speculation that the contents of a black granite sarcophagus discovered in Egypt earlier this month might contain everything from the remains of Alexander the Great to a world-ending curse, archaeologists opening the tomb yesterday witnessed not wonder or terror, but the pungent reek of raw sewage.

"We’ve opened it and, thank God, the world has not fallen into darkness," Mostafa Waziry, head of Egypt’s Supreme Council for Antiquities, told reporters at the site. "I was the first to put my whole head inside the sarcophagus, and here I stand before you. I am fine."

The contents of 2,000-year-old black granite sarcophagus in Egypt were protected by more than just stone. The contents of 2,000-year-old black granite sarcophagus in Egypt were protected by more than just stone. (Photo: Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities)

According to officials for the country's antiquities ministry, the 2,000-year-old sarcophagus was flooded with red sewage, which had seeped in from the roads 16 feet above. Once the offending liquid was suctioned away, the formerly-mummified skeletons of three individuals were revealed. In a Facebook post, officials say they believe the three were likely military leaders, with at least one skull possibly struck by an arrow. No other artifacts were reportedly found within the sarcophagus.

"It's not Alexander. It's not royalty," Waziry said in the video below documenting the excavation. "Here is the evidence. We denied it a few days ago, but we were sure. I was sure."

If anything, the seemingly unremarkable contents of what is the largest sarcophagus ever discovered in Alexandria has spawned a series of new questions. Who were these three individuals? Why were they buried together? And perhaps most importantly, why were they buried in such a massive, 30-ton black granite sarcophagus?

While the raw sewage likely destroyed any remaining organic hints as to the identities of these individuals, officials are transferring the skeletons and the sarcophagus to the Alexandria National Museum for further study. At the very least, science may be able to tell us their ages and causes of death.

With any luck, we'll have answers before the curse they just unleashed destroys us all.

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Ancient sarcophagus reveals foul surprise
The mysterious black granite Egyptian sarcophagus, dating back more than 2,000 years, held more than just remains.