Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Beaded Mummy One of Best Ever Preserved

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: "Archaeologists uncovered three coffins and a remarkably well-preserved mummy in a 2,500-year old tomb discovered by accident - after opening a secret door hidden behind a statue in a separate burial chamber, Egypt's chief archaeologist said Wednesday.

The Australian team was exploring a much older tomb - dating back 4,200 years - belonging to a man believed to have been a tutor to the 6th Dynasty King Pepi II, when they moved a pair of statues and discovered the door, said Zahi Hawass, Egypt's top antiquities official.

Inside, they found a tomb from the 26th Dynasty with three intricate coffins, each with a mummy.

'Inside one coffin was maybe one of the best mummies ever preserved,' Hawass told reporters at the excavation site in the cemetery of Saqqara, a barren hillside pocked with ancient graves about 15 miles south of Cairo.

'The chest of the mummy is covered with beads. Most of the mummies of this period - about 500 B.C. - the beads are completely gone, but this mummy has them all,' he said, standing over one of the mummies that was swathed in turquoise blue beads and bound in strips of black linen.

The names of the mummies have not been determined, but the tomb is thought to be that of a middle-class official."