Brilliantly colored mummy dating back 2,300 years unveiled in Egypt

Wednesday, May 4, 2005

SAQQARA, Egypt -- A superbly preserved 2,300-year-old mummy bearing a golden mask and covered in brilliantly colored images of gods and goddesses was unveiled Tuesday at Egypt's Saqqara Pyramids complex south of Cairo.

The unidentified mummy, from the 30th pharaonic dynasty, was enclosed in a wooden sarcophagus and buried in sand at the bottom of a 20-foot shaft when it was discovered recently by an Egyptian-led archaeological team.

"We have revealed what may be the most beautiful mummy ever found in Egypt," Zahi Hawass, chief of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, said as he helped excavators remove the sarcophagus lid to show off the find.

Hawass said experts will use CT scanning technology within the next week to reveal more details about the ancient Egyptian's identity and how he had lived and died.

Afterward, the mummy will be displayed at Saqqara's museum of Imhotep, the famed architect who designed the Step Pyramid -- Egypt's oldest.

The mummy, found two months ago, was covered from head to toe in burial cloth painted in bright colors that depicted a range of graphic scenes, including Maat, the goddess of balance and truth shown with outstretched arms in the shape of feathered wings.

Saqqara, about 12 miles south of Cairo, is one of Egypt's most popular tourist sites and hosts a collection of temples, tombs and funerary complexes.

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