Cairo – Egyptian archaeologists, who have spent years meticulously excavating an area among the ancient ruins of Saqqara, near Cairo, announced on Thursday a series of key discoveries belonging to the fifth and sixth dynasties of Egypt’s “Old Kingdom”, more than 4,000 years old. One of the most important was a large rectangular limestone sarcophagus located at the bottom of a vertical shaft about 50 feet deep.
The director of the Egyptian excavation team at the Gisr al-Mudir site in the ancient city of Saqqara, Dr. “The sarcophagus was about 45 tons and the cover was about 5 tons,” Zahi Hawass told CBS News.
The lid is still mortared over the sarcophagus as it was left there about 4,300 years ago. It took the archaeologists about two hours of careful work to open it.
Inside, they found what Hawass says is the oldest non-royal mummy ever discovered in Egypt. He also added that it is the oldest gold leaf-wrapped mummy found in the country.
While not the ancient Egyptian pharaoh at the bottom of the deep well, the elaborate send-off to the afterlife made it clear that they weren’t ordinary either. And on the sarcophagus was a name inscribed: “HqA-Sps” or Hekashepes.
“Of course it was important,” Hawass told CBS News. “For someone to build such a sarcophagus 15 meters underground, it would have to be a very important man.”
But while Hekashepes will make its way into the history books, Hawass’ new discovery at Saqqara, once part of a sprawling necropolis known as the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis, wasn’t a gold-wrapped mummy. Memphis’ famous Pyramids of Giza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are nearby.
Among the items on display Thursday by senior Egyptian archaeologist Hawass and his team were 14 stone statues dating to the “Old Kingdom” or Age of the Pyramids between 2700 BC, found in another well about 33 feet deep. and 2200 BC – possibly even older than the mummy of Hekashepes.
“These sculptures are pretty unique,” Hawass said. “This is the first time that such a large number of statues have been found in Saqqara in this century.”
“Today’s discovery tells us more about the art, mummification, and also the people who worked there in the Old Kingdom,” Hawass said. Said. “One of the tombs was for a priest in charge of the pyramid complex of King Unas, the last king of the 5th Dynasty.”
it’s been a week Important announcements by Egyptian archaeologistsanother team unveils the discovery of a massive cemetery in the ancient city of Luxor, near the remains of a “complete” Roman-era city nearby.
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