SAQQARA, Egypt — A superbly maintained 2,300-year-old mummy bearing a golden mask and covered in brightly colored images of gods and goddesses was unveiled Tuesday at Egypt’s Saqqara Pyramids complex south of Cairo.
The unidentified mummy, from the 30th pharaonic dynasty, had been closed in a wooden sarcophagus and buried in sand at the bottom of a 20-foot shaft before being discovered recently by an Egyptian-led archaeological team.
“We have revealed what may be the most beautiful mummy ever found in Egypt,” Zahi Hawass, chief of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, said as he helped excavators remove the sarcophagus’ lid to show off the find.
Hawass said experts will use CT scanning technology within the next week to reveal more details about the ancient Egyptian’s identity and he had lived and died.
Afterward, the mummy will be displayed at Saqqara’s museum of Imhotep, the famed architect who designed the Stepped Pyramid — Egypt’s oldest.
Also shown were the four children of the falcon-headed god, Horus, and the rituals and processes to mummify the person, who Hawass believed must have been wealthy considering his burial location and fine gold used for the mummy’s mask.
“The artists who made this mummy more than 2,000 years ago demonstrated the brilliance of the ancient Egyptians by using stunning colors and depicting his face so graphically,” Hawass said.
The mummy had been buried within the necropolis of King Teti, a funerary area containing scores of burial chambers, false doors that ancient Egyptians said the souls of the dead would use to leave their tombs, and temples.
The necropolis is built alongside the collapsed pyramid of Teti, who ruled during ancient Egypt’s 6th dynasty, more than 4,300 years ago. Hawass said a “lost” pyramid had been located in the Saqqara area and would be uncovered after two months.
Saqqara, located about 12 miles south of Cairo, is one of Egypt’s most popular tourist sites and hosts a collection of temples, tombs and funerary complexes.