A mummy unearthed in Egypt wrapped in 'layers of gold' may be the oldest ever discovered, archeologists said
- Archeologists uncovered what is likely the oldest mummy ever discovered in Egypt on Thursday.
- Archaeologists discovered the 4,300-year-old Hekashepes near the Step Pyramid wrapped in gold leaf.
A team of archaeologists unearthed what could be the "oldest" and "most complete" mummy ever discovered in Egypt, the leader of the excavation announced on Thursday.
Thought to be the remains of a man named Hekashepes, archaeologists found the 4,300-year-old mummy in an ancient tomb near Cairo from the country's fifth and sixth dynasty — which spanned from the years 2500 BC to 2100 BC, Zahi Hawass, Egypt's former minister of antiquities, said in a statement.
"I put my head inside to see what was inside the sarcophagus: A beautiful mummy of a man completely covered in layers of gold," Hawass told reporters at the site of the excavation.
The centuries-old mummy was found at the bottom of a 15-meter shaft near the Step Pyramid at the Necropolis of Saqqara, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Saqqara, a "great masterpiece of architectural design," is located in Memphis, the first capital of ancient Egypt.
Several other "important archaeological discoveries" were made, Hawass said, including tombs belonging to Meri, a "keeper of the secrets" at the royal palace, and Khnum-djed-ef, a priest in the pyramid complex of Unas. Numerous statues of deities, amulets, tools for daily life, and stone vessels were also uncovered.
"This discovery is so important as it connects the kings with the people living around them," Ali Abu Deshish, another archaeologist on the excavation team, said, according to BBC News.
This comes only a day after a different team of archaeologists discovered ruins of another ancient city called Luxor, south of Cairo. Earlier this week, scientists "digitally unwrapped" the 2,300-year-old "golden boy" mummy using CT scans. The scans revealed new insights into how ancient embalmers used precious amulets to protect the dead.
There has been a string of major archaeological discoveries across Egypt in recent years, highlighted as part of a growing push to promote the country's tourism industry. The industry has suffered since the risen political unrest in the country since 2011, as well as travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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