Egypt mummy discovery sheds light on little-known dynasty

A picture released by the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities in 2010 shows a sarcophagus discovered in the Bahariya Oasis. The remains of a pharaoh from Egypt's Second Intermediate Period were recently unearthed in Abydos. [AFP Photo/Supreme Council of Antiquities]

A picture released by the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities in 2010 shows a sarcophagus discovered in the Bahariya Oasis. The remains of a pharaoh from Egypt's Second Intermediate Period were recently unearthed in Abydos. [AFP Photo/Supreme Council of Antiquities]

  • COMMENT

    2

  • Print this article
  • increase decrease

The recent unearthing of the mummy of previously-unknown Egyptian pharaoh "Senebkay", who ruled Egypt in the 17th century B.C., is exciting news for archaeologists who are looking forward to learning more about that period in Egypt's history.

An archaeological mission discovered the tomb in Abydos, Sohag, Upper Egypt, Egyptian Minister of State for Antiquities Mohammed Ibrahim said in January.

"The discovery is of great importance because of the dearth of information on [the Abydos dynasty], which ruled Egypt during that time," said Cairo University pharaonic antiquities professor Niazi Ali.

A translation of hieroglyphics found on the royal cartouche, a stone placed inside the burial chamber, revealed the pharaoh's name, he said.

This name had not appeared in the past in any archaeological excavation or in historical references to the pharaonic dynasties, and experts hope the new discovery will shed light on the chronology of the kings of that period, he said.

Abydos was the capital of the eighth nome -- an ancient administrative division -- of Upper Egypt, and is one of the most important historical Egyptian religious sites as it includes 10 temples belonging to the 26 dynasties in addition to the royal tombs of many of Egypt's kings, Ali said.

Senebkay was a king during the Abydos dynasty, which ruled Egypt in the Second Intermediate Period, a time when Egypt was divided into multiple kingdoms and economic conditions were poor, he said.

"These new discoveries confirm this theory, as there were no gifts or precious jewellery with the skeletal remains, as was customary in providing the late king with funerary furniture, with the exception of a jar that contained the viscera, commonly known as a canopic jar," he said.

"Even the remains were in poor condition and were placed in a wooden, not a stone or marble, coffin," Ali said. "The also was in a very small tomb."

The new discovery was made by chance, said Sami Abdul Muzhir, a Cairo University archaeology student currently working on Sohag-area excavations.

"None of the archaeologists or researchers working at the site expected to find it," he told Al-Shorfa. "The area abounds with royal tombs that belong to various pharaonic dynasties."

The new discovery is interesting because "the remains were in semi-poor condition and were not given the usual level of attention during the mummification process", he said. "There is also very little left of the cloth used to wrap the body during the mummification process."

Furthermore, there was only one canopic jar, in contrast to the customary three jars, and funerary rites do not appear to have been performed, Abdul Muzhir said.

Looting by grave robbers or the poor economic conditions at the time may have caused this shoddy burial, he said.

Opening the tomb to visitors

Gamal Abdel Hakim of the Egyptian Antiquities Authority said it will be at least six months before the Senebkay tomb opens to visitors.

A thorough archaeological survey of the area must first be completed, he added.

"This discovery coincides with the opening of a number of sites in several areas to visitors," he told Al-Shorfa. "In Luxor, openings included the tombs of a foreman and priest of Amon, known as Amenhotep, Queen Hatshepsut's Temple in Deir el-Bahri and Qasr al-Agouz (the Temple of Thoth), which gained fame after Cairo University adopted the god Thoth -- the god of wisdom and writing -- for its seal."

The Ministry of Antiquities also is working hard to retrieve numerous artefacts that were smuggled outside the country, he said.

Officials retrieved 22 such pieces in 2013 and 61 in 2012, and are currently negotiating to retrieve 390 pieces which were tracked to locations outside Egypt, Abdul Hakim said.

ADD A COMMENT (COMMENT POLICY) * DENOTES REQUIRED FIELD

Test
  • READER COMMENTS

    منه

    2014-2-3

    Wowwwwwww!

  • احمدابوالوفاسيدجلوده

    2014-1-31

    The Arabs insist on protecting the family life.