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4,300-Year-Old Mummy Covered in Gold Is Among the Dazzling Discoveries Made at Egyptian Site

4,300-Year-Old Mummy Covered in Gold Is Among the Dazzling Discoveries Made at Egyptian Site

Archeologists may have uncovered the oldest and "most complete" mummy ever found in Egypt during a recent excavation at a site in Saqqara, about 20 miles from Cairo.

Dr. Zahi Hawass, the country's former antiquities minister, and his team discovered the mummy, which was covered in gold leaf, inside a large rectangular limestone sarcophagus at the bottom of a 50-foot shaft, he said in a statement.

The remains belonged to a man named Heka-shepes.

"The sarcophagus was found sealed with mortar, just as the ancient Egyptians had left it 4,300 years ago," Dr. Hawass said on Facebook Thursday. "This mummy may be the oldest and most complete mummy found in Egypt to date."

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The discovery was part of a "group of Old Kingdom tombs," which included resting places belonging to Khnum-djed-ef, "a priest in the pyramid complex of Unas," and "Meri, who was an official in the royal palace," according to the statement.

Saqqara archaeological site
Saqqara archaeological site

KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Saqqara archaeological site

Another tomb was found that also belonged to a priest and contained "nine beautiful statues." The priest was likely named Messi, Dr. Hawass said, based a "false door that was found near the statues."

Saqqara necropolis
Saqqara necropolis

KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Egyptian archaeologists announced the discovery of a large cemetery near Cairo Thursday morning

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Another shaft also discovered during the mission was about 33 feet deep and contained a collecton of wooden statues, Dr. Hawass said.

In addition, three stone statues representing a person named Fetek were unearthed, according to the statement, next to "an offering table and a stone sarcophagus that contained his mummy."

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The discovery also included "many amulets, stone vessels, tools for daily life, and statues of deities, along with pottery," Dr. Hawass said.

According to the BBC, all the items discovered by the team date back to between the 25th and 22nd centuries BC.