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Not ‘Royal’, But…

Tourists arrive in Egypt from different parts of the globe, mainly to see the pyramids. The transcontinental country, spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia via a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula, is full of wonder, folklore, historical stories and legends. Apart from the existing ones, another mummy has recently been discovered in this mysterious country. However, this one is not of a pharaoh or an eminent personality. Archaeologists believe that the mummy belongs to an ordinary person, although a lot of treasures have been found around it. Hence, this mummy has become an extraordinary one.

Archaeologists have claimed that the mummy is about 4,300-year-old. A team of archaeologists discovered the mummy in January 2023, while excavating a stone-built burial site in Saqqara, 30km south of modern-day Cairo. They found the mummy inside a leaf-shaped box made of gold. The mummuy was kept about 15mt beneath the ground.

The town of Saqqara is also quite mysterious. The location of this town is quite far from where the Sphinx is located, and burial ground there is nearly 3,000-year-old. Saqqara has found its place in the list of UNESCO heritage sites. The ancient city of Memphis is not very far from this town. The famous Step Pyramid and 12 small and medium-sized pyramids were found in Memphis. Three mummies have recently been discovered from the burial site in Saqqara. Among them, this new mummy is believed to be the oldest.

Archaeologists have claimed that the tomb had a sealed sarcophagus, containing the mummy of a man that a hieroglyphic inscription identifying him as Hekashepes, and his remains were found covered with gold. They are of the opinion that the ancient Egyptian mummy is the oldest covered with gold, but it is not the oldest ancient Egyptian mummy on record. Interestingly, the impression of such care and grandeur on the tomb of an ordinary person is almost rare in Egypt. Among these three mummies, the largest one is of a person, named Khnumdjedef, who lived during the First Intermediate Period (BC 2150-2030). It seems that this person was a noble priest or a leader among the elite in ancient Egyptian Civilisation. Another tomb found in the cemetery belonged to an official, named Meri. This person was most likely a watchman for the pharaohs, as his hieroglyphic inscriptions say that he used to hold a number of titles, including “keeper of the secrets” and “assistant of the great leader of the palace“. His special position allowed Meri to perform various religious practices that later became forbidden.

The archaeologists also found a 33ft-deep shaft, with a stone sarcophagus belonging to a man, named Fetek, at the bottom. He was buried along with three stone statues, depicting him, as well as an offering table. Zahi Abass Hawass, an Egyptian archaeologist, Egyptologist and former Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs, has claimed that these tombs were built from BC 2400 to BC 2100. For his part, archaeologist Ali Abu Deshish stressed: “This discovery is so important as it connects the kings with the people living around them.”

A few days ago, a group of Egyptian archaeologists claimed to have discovered an ancient Roman city in the city of Luxor, near Cairo. It is still unclear whether that city is modern-day Saqqara. The Government of Egypt recently decided to conduct more intensive excavations at major archaeological sites in an attempt to resolve more mysteries. Cairo believes that the proposed move will attract more tourists to museums in Egypt. The Government wants 30 millions tourists to visit the Egyptian museums by 2028.

Meanwhile, a section of archaeologists has reportedly said that it is nothing, but a gimmick. They have slammed the Government for not taking proper initiative regarding the special study or research required to carry out excavation works in the archeological sites.

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