Archaeologists say they’ve found what is believed to be the oldest non-royal gold leaf-coated mummy inside a sarcophagus that hasn’t been opened for at least 4,300 years, according to reports released Thursday.
The mummy is believed to be a non-royal man named Hekashepes, and his body was covered in gold leaf when it was placed inside the ancient sarcophagus, according to the BBC. The body was found down a 50-foot shaft in the Saqqara burial site near the Egyptian city of Cairo.
“The sarcophagus was about 45 tons and the lid was about 5 tons,” director of the excavation team, Dr. Zahi Hawass, told CBS News. He said it took more than two hours for archaeologists to open the tomb, where they discovered the incredible gold lead-coated mummy.
“Of course, he was important. For someone to make a sarcophagus like this, 15 meters under the ground, he should be a very important man,” Hawass noted, according to the outlet.
Archaeologists have made major discoveries at the ancient ruins of Saqqara – a pyramid in Egypt.
Among them was a gold-leaf-covered mummy, thought to be the oldest non-royal ever found. @CGreenbank9 #9News pic.twitter.com/L1flM2Y2j0
— 9News Australia (@9NewsAUS) January 27, 2023
Several other tombs have been identified at the site, which contains more than a dozen pyramids, the BBC reported. A priest, inspector and overseer of nobles named Khnumdjedef has also been uncovered at the site, along with another man named Meri.
Meri is believed to have been a senior palace official, who held the title “secret keeper,” according to the BBC. Along with enormous tombs and what are thought to be the largest statues ever discovered in that area, the archaeologists also uncovered artifacts such as pottery at the site.
“This discovery is so important as it connects the kings with the people living around them,” archaeologist Ali Abu Deshish said of the excavation, the BBC reported. (RELATED: Dear Kay: I Watched ‘Ancient Apocalypse’ And Now I’m Scared We’re Going To Die Before 2025)
In a recent interview on the “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast, researcher Jimmy Corsetti outlined how regions of the western Sahara desert, including the country of Mauritania, are famed for their gold deposits. It’s believed a majority of the gold in Europe, other nations around Africa and western Asia came from Mauritania throughout history.
Due to limitations in the capabilities in carbon dating, it’s impossible to know when the gold found in Egypt was manipulated to the form it was discovered in.