4,300-year-old mummy covered in gold discovered in Egypt

Archaeologists have discovered a gold leaf-covered mummy inside a sarcophagus that’s been unopened for 4,300 years.

The discovery was part of dozens of new archaeological finds unveiled by Egypt, including two ancient tombs, at a Pharaonic necropolis near Cairo.

The artefacts, unearthed during a year-long excavation, were found under an ancient stone enclosure near the Saqqara pyramids and date back to the fifth and sixth dynasties of the Old Kingdom, spanning from roughly 2500BC to 2100BC, Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said.

One of the uncovered tombs belonged to a fifth dynasty priest known as Khnumdjedef, while the other larger tomb belonged to Meri, a palace official who held the title of ‘the keeper of the secrets’, the ministry said.

Other major findings from the excavation include statues, amulets and a well-preserved sarcophagus.

Egypt’s most renowned archaeologist and director of the excavation, Zahi Hawass, unveiled the new discoveries from the stone enclosure, known as Gisr al-Mudir.

‘I put my head inside to see what was inside the sarcophagus: a beautiful mummy of a man completely covered in layers of gold,’ said Mr Hawass.

The Saqqara site is part of a sprawling necropolis at Egypt’s ancient capital of Memphis that includes the famed Giza Pyramids as well as smaller pyramids at Abu Sir, Dahshur and Abu Ruwaysh.

The ruins of Memphis were designated a Unesco World Heritage site in the 1970s.

Thursday’s unveiling comes amid a flurry of new discoveries announced by Egyptian authorities over the past week.

Near the southern city of Luxor, authorities said they found dozens of burial sites from the New Kingdom era, dating from 1800BC to 1600BC.

Discovered nearby were the ruins of an ancient Roman city, it said.

In a separate announcement on Tuesday, a group of scientists from Cairo University revealed previously unknown details about a mummified teenage boy dating to about 300 BC.

By using CT scans, the team of scientists were able to shed new light on the boy’s high social status by affirming the intricate details of the amulets inserted within his mummified body and the type of burial he received.

Egypt often publicly touts its ancient discoveries to attract more tourists, a significant source of foreign currency for the cash-strapped North African country.

The sector suffered a long downturn after the political turmoil and violence that followed a 2011 uprising.

Egypt’s tourist industry was also hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and is suffering from the fallout from the war in Ukraine.

Both Russia and Ukraine comprised a large source of tourists visiting Egypt.

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