(CNN) – Archaeologists have discovered what may be the oldest mummy ever found in Egypt.
Archaeologist Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s former antiquities minister, told CNN on Friday that the 4,300-year-old mummy corresponds to a rich and important 35-year-old named Jed Sabsh.
“It is the oldest complete, gold-covered mummy ever found in Egypt,” he said, adding that it was “the most amazing find.”
Hawass said that he and a team of 10 assistants discovered the mummified man 20 meters underground in the Mudir Bridge complex in the shadow of the ancient step pyramid of Djoser in the town of Saqqara.
The mummy was in a stone sarcophagus weighing 25 tons, with the cover alone weighing five tons, in one of the openings that the team entered, according to Hawass.
Hawass said that when the team opened the lid, they found “the oldest and most beautiful mummy covered in layers of gold, with a headband and a chest bracelet, which indicates that she is a rich man.”
Among the many other artifacts that were discovered from the Old Kingdom, Hawass said, one of them dates back to the reign of King Unas during the Fifth Dynasty, between 2494 and 2487 BC.
Also found were three statues representing a person in a well, and nine other statues behind a false door.
The archaeologist said the statues are important because they allow us to “get acquainted for the first time with the art of the Old Kingdom, which includes double statues, single statues, servant statues and all kinds of different statues.”
Another stone sarcophagus similar to the embalmed mummy of the rich man was also found, and it is scheduled to open next week.
Hawass said the discovery means that the tomb belonged to very important people “second only to the king”.
The Step Pyramid is the first pyramid built by the ancient Egyptians, between 2667 and 2648 BC during the early Third Dynasty, and is the oldest known stone structure from ancient Egypt, according to the country’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.
Saqqara, a vast necropolis located about 32 kilometers south of Cairo, has been the scene of many amazing discoveries, including the mortuary temple of Queen Nerit, wife of King Teti, the first king of the Sixth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom, in 2021.
In the same year, archaeologists discovered at the site the tomb of the chief treasurer of King Ramesses II, who ruled Egypt between 1279 and 1213 BC. A large group of ancient bronze statues and sarcophagi was also discovered in May last year.
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