Going for Gold! Egyptian mummy wrapped in gold leaf found near Cairo

Egyptian archaeologists have discovered a perfectly preserved gold-covered mummy just outside of Cairo after a year of excavation. Untouched for 4,300 years, the opulent mummy is thought to be the oldest and most complete non-royal corpse ever found in Egypt.

This discovery is so important as it connects the kings with the people living around them,” said Ali Abu Deshish, one of the excavating archaeologists.

Researchers believe the remains once belonged to an affluent man named Hekashepes, dating from the fifth and sixth dynasties around the 25th to the 22nd centuries BC. Hekashepes was found completely intact, wrapped in gold leaf sealed inside a limestone sarcophagus.

The magnificent mummy was buried at the bottom of a 15-metre shaft at Saqqara, a vast ancient necropolis south of Cairo. As the ancient Egyptian capital, it was an active burial ground for more than 3,000 years and is now a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

During our excavations, we left the last layer of debris,” explained Mostafa Wazari, the secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt. “When we took it [off] two days ago, we found five new sealed shafts. It explains a lot. Why didn’t we find any objects for this guy? It means that his objects should be in those shafts.”

Three other tombs were also found at the site. The largest belonged to a man called Khnumdjedef who was a priest, inspector, and supervisor of nobles. The remaining tombs were dedicated to a senior palace official given the title of “keeper of the secrets and assistant to the great leader of the palace”, and a judge and writer named Fetek.

Inside the other tombs, which were decorated with scenes of daily life, archaeologists uncovered a collection of amulets and the largest statues ever found in the area. Officials believe there is a possibility that even more treasures may be found in future excavations as the tombs never fell into the hands of looters.

This is just one of countless new archaeological discoveries found in Egypt in the last year. Only last week, experts in the southern city of Luxor announced the discovery of a complete residential city from the Roman era that dates back to the second and third centuries AD. According to Waziri, the Roman settlement is the “oldest and most important city found on the eastern bank of Luxor.”

Egypt’s government plans to further revive tourism with the opening of its Grand Egyptian Museum this year. It could potentially draw in 30 million tourists a year by 2028, which would be a dramatic increase from the 13 million tourists that visited the country before the pandemic.

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