Cairo — Egyptian archaeologists who’ve spent years meticulously excavating a web site amid the traditional ruins of Saqqara, close to Cairo, introduced a lot of main discoveries on Thursday relationship to the fifth and sixth dynasties of Egypt’s “Outdated Kingdom,” greater than 4,000 years in the past. Some of the necessary was a big, rectangular limestone sarcophagus discovered on the backside of a vertical shaft about 50 toes deep.
“The sarcophagus was about 45 tons and the lid was about 5 tons,” Dr. Zahi Hawass, the director of the Egyptian excavation group on the Gisr el-Mudir web site within the historic metropolis of Saqqara, advised CBS Information.
The lid was nonetheless sealed onto the sarcophagus with mortar, precisely because it had been left there some 4,300 years in the past. It took the archaeologists about two hours of cautious work to crack it open.
Inside, they discovered what Hawass stated was the oldest non-royal mummy ever found in Egypt. It was additionally the oldest mummy wrapped in gold leaf ever discovered within the nation, he added.
Whereas the traditional Egyptian on the backside of the deep shaft was no pharaoh, the frilly sendoff to the afterlife made it clear they have been additionally no commoner. And there was a reputation, inscribed on prime of the sarcophagus: “HqA-Sps,” or Hekashepes.
“After all, he was necessary. For somebody to make a sarcophagus like this, 15 meters beneath the bottom, he needs to be an important man,” Hawass advised CBS Information.
However whereas Hekashepes will earn his place within the historical past books, the gold-wrapped mummy wasn’t Hawass’ favourite new discovery at Saqqara, which is a part of a sprawling necropolis that was once the capital of historic Egypt, often called Memphis. The famed Giza Pyramids are close by, throughout the UNESCO World Heritage web site of Memphis.
Among the many objects displayed by Hawass, a veteran Egyptian archaeologist, and his group on Thursday have been 14 stone statues present in one other a shaft, about 33 toes deep, relationship again to the “Outdated Kingdom,” or the Age of the Pyramids, between 2700 and 2200 BC — presumably even older than the mother of Hekashepes.
“These statues are fairly distinctive,” Hawass stated. “That is the primary time on this century that such numerous statues was present in Saqqara.”
“At present’s discovery tells us extra about artwork within the Outdated Kingdom, mummification, and likewise in regards to the individuals who labored there,” Hawass stated. “One of many tombs was for a priest who was in command of the pyramids advanced of King Unas, the final king of the fifth Dynasty.”
It has been every week of landmark announcements by Egyptian archaeologists, with one other group revealing the invention of an enormous burial floor within the historic metropolis of Luxor, near the ruins of a “full” Roman-era metropolis close by.