After archeologists unearthed the sarcophagus, they opened it up to discover, along with the kings body, almost a hundred gold coins.
"Mark your calendars now for 'Ancient Egypt - Art and Magic.' It's a diverse collection from as far back as 6,000 years and includes precious jeweled objects, tomb reliefs and large mummy cases that held the remains of dignitaries and royalty, called sarcophagi."-- From an article in St. Petersburg Times (Florida), June 24, 2011
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Body-eating coffins might sound like the stuff of horror films, but "flesh-eating stone" does play a role in the etymology of "sarcophagus." That creepy-sounding phrase is a literal translation of "sarkophagos," the Greek word that underlies our English term. It's not clear whether the Romans truly believed that a certain type of limestone from the region around Troy would dissolve flesh (and thus was desirable for making coffins). That assertion came from Roman scholar Pliny the Elder, but he also reported such phenomena as dog-headed people and elephants who wrote Greek. But theres no doubt that the ancient Greek word for the limestone, "sarkophagos," was formed by combining "sark-," meaning "flesh," with a derivative of "phagein," a verb meaning "to eat."
Word Family Quiz: What relative of "sarcophagus" refers to a body part that leads from the mouth through the throat to the stomach? The answer is ...
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