Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered a 4,300-year-old mummy, possibly the oldest ever found in the country, during an extraordinary excavation near Cairo, officials announced Thursday.
The mummy named “Hekashepes” was located at the bottom of a 49-foot shaft near the step pyramid at Saqqara, where the team was working to uncover a cemetery of fifth and sixth dynasty tombs dating to the 25th century BC. Zahi Hawass, team principal, in a statement.
The large rectangular limestone sarcophagus of Hekashepes was still sealed with the mortar with which the ancient Egyptians had covered the tomb more than 40 centuries ago.
“I stuck my head inside to see what was inside the sarcophagus: a beautiful mummy of a man completely covered in layers of gold,” said Hawass, Egypt’s former minister of antiquities, noting that the mummy might be the “oldest” and ” The most complete found in Egypt to date.
The discovery of Hekashepes was not the most exciting find during the year-long excavation at Gisr al-Mudir, one of the oldest known stone structures in Egypt.
The “most important” tomb the archaeologists found belonged to Khnum-djed-ef, who was a priest, inspector of officials, and overseer of nobles in the pyramid complex of Unas, a pharaoh who ruled in the mid-24th century BC.
There, the scientists also found the tomb of a royal palace official named Meri, “keeper of secrets and assistant to the great palace leader,” who had the second-largest tomb in the cemetery.
In the pyramid complex of King Pepi I, a pharaoh who ruled between the 24th and 23rd centuries B.C. C., archaeologists found the tomb of a priest who could have been named Messi, according to a false door in which nine ordered statues of the ancient Egyptian people were found.
A final mummy was found inside a stone sarcophagus next to an offering table and a group of stone statues representing a person named Fetek, Hawass said.
“In addition, the expedition produced many amulets, stone vessels, tools for daily life, and statues of deities, as well as ceramics,” Hawass said.
The monumental discovery comes just days after authorities said they found the ruins of an ancient Roman city near the southern city of Luxor, where they also found dozens of New Kingdom-era burial sites dating from 1800 to . C. to 1600 B.C. c.
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