Cairo, Jan 26 (EFE).- A team of Egyptian archaeologists on Thursday announced finding an intact sarcophagus containing a 4,300-year-old gold-covered mummy at the bottom of a 15-meter (50-foot) burial shaft in the Gizar el-Mudir area in the ancient Saqqara necropolis south of Cairo.
The Egyptian Tourism and Antiquities Ministry posted the notice of the find on its official Facebook page, where it said that the “large rectangular limestone sarcophagus was found at the bottom of (a burial) shaft, belonging to a man called Heka-shepes,” whose undisturbed mummy inside the sarcophagus was covered with gold flakes.
The team also found another burial shaft, this one 10 meters (33 feet) deep, containing a group of wooden statues along with three stone statues representing a person named Fetek, along with an offering table and a stone sarcophagus containing the man’s mummy.
In addition, the team said, the archaeological mission unearthed a large number of “amulets, stone vessels, tools for daily life, deity statues and pottery.”
The director of the excavation, who works with the Supreme Antiquities Council, Zahi Hawass, said that this was an important archaeological discovery dating from the 5th and 6th dynasties of Egypt’s Old Kingdom more than 4,000 years ago, adding that the team had also found numerous tombs in the extensive and not fully excavated necropolis.
Hawass said that the sarcophagus was sealed with mortar at the time the team found it, having remained undisturbed for some 43 centuries. However, after two hours of work they were able to remove the heavy stone lid and inside they found the “oldest non-royal mummy” ever discovered in Egypt, which was also the oldest mummy wrapped in gold leaf ever found in the Middle Eastern country.
The most important tomb found by the team belonged to a man named Khnum-djed-ef, who was a priest at the pyramid complex of the Pharoah Unas, the last king of the 5th dynasty. The second-most important tomb belonged to a man named Meri, and another belonged to Messi, another priest at the pyramid complex of Pharoah Pepi I, and this one contained nine beautiful statues.
Near the Saqqara necropolis stand the famous Giza Pyramids and the Great Sphinx statue carved out of a rock outcropping, all within the UNESCO World Heritage site of Memphis.