Recent excavations in Saqqara Necropolis, near Cairo, have discovered the 4,300-year-old mummified remains of a man, named Hekashepes, wrapped in gold. Archaeologists found the remarkably well-preserved body (which is unusual for its period) in January 2023, in a limestone sarcophagus within a burial shaft.
According to the archaeologists, this could be the “oldest” and “most complete” mummy ever discovered, holding great significance for those studying the earlier period of ancient Egypt. By conducting scientific analysis of the skeleton and teeth, researchers hope to uncover details about Hekashepes’ origins, dietary habits, health conditions, age at the time of death, and the possible cause of his demise.
It provides a rare glimpse into the burial practices of the past and valuable insights into a time when limited data existed on demographics, population health, life expectancy, and diet.
Later in the year, in the same Necropolis, researchers discovered two new embalming workshops and tombs. In these workshops, which date back to the 30th dynasty (around 2,400 years ago), archaeologists found rooms equipped with stony beds, clay pots and ancient instruments used for the mummification process.
As well as this, two new tombs were also discovered: that of Ne Hesut Ba, a priest who served during the Fifth Dynasty, and Men Kheber, a priest from a later era. Painted on the tomb walls are fascinating hieroglyphics depicting scenes of daily life, agriculture, hunting, and images of the deceased. These fascinating archaeological discoveries provide a glimpse into the art, rituals, and customs of ancient Egypt, further enriching our understanding of this remarkable civilization.
The Saqqara Necroplis seems to be a goldmine of discovery. Here, a collaborative team of Dutch and Italian archaeologists, in conjunction with Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, unearthed an underground tomb complex dating back 3,200 years. They attributed this tomb to Panehsy, a prominent steward of the temple of Amun during the reign of Pharaoh Ramses II around 1250 BCE.
The complex stands as a testament to the ingenuity of this ancient civilization, and holds a freestanding temple adorned with intricate details, including an impressive entrance, a colonnaded courtyard, a passageway leading to subterranean burial chambers, and three exquisite chapels.
Delving deeper into the tomb’s depths, the archaeologists were greeted by captivating images capturing Panehsy and his wife Baia engaged in sacred rituals. Among these depictions is a remarkable stone relief, presenting the deceased couple seated at an offering table opposite a priest known as Piay, who is elegantly adorned with a leopard skin mantle draped over his shoulders. The accompanying hieroglyphic text indicates that Piay likely served as a subordinate to Panehsy.
This newfound tomb complex offers a fascinating window into the life and beliefs of Panehsy and his role within the temple of Amun, through which we gain valuable insights into the religious practices and hierarchical structures of ancient Egyptian society.