Egypt Unveils Ancient Mummy

By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 11, 2009 7:01 PM CST
Egyptian laborers are seen by a shaft that leads to the burial chamber.   (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – Illuminated only by torches and camera lights, Egyptian laborers used crowbars and picks to lift the lid off a 2,600-year-old limestone sarcophagus, exposing—for the first time since it was sealed in antiquity—a perfectly preserved mummy. Wrapped in dark-stained canvas, the mummy is part of Egypt's discovery of a burial chamber 36 feet below ground at the ancient necropolis of Saqqara. It was shown to reporters for the first time today.

Egypt's archaeology chief Zahi Hawass has dubbed it a "storeroom for mummies," because it contains eight wooden and limestone sarcophagi as well as at least two dozen mummies. The find dates back to 640 BC, or the 26th Dynasty—Egypt's last independent kingdom before a succession of foreign conquerors. Archeologists are still working on identifying the mummies; rulers of the ancient Memphis were buried at Saqqara.