Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Unopened sarcophagus found near Djoser's pyramid

Although Imhotep was mentioned in this article as the architect of the Step Pyramid, no one is suggesting that this cache of mummies may be part of Imhotep's burial site that has been sought for decades.

Archaeologists have discovered dozens of mummies and several sarcophagi in a tomb estimated to be more than 4000 years old, says the Egyptian ministry of culture.

The find was made at Gisr al-Moudir, west of Egypt's first ever pyramid at Saqqara, the step pyramid of Djoser built by architect Imhotep in around 2700 BC, the ministry says in a statement.

"The tomb dates from the era of the sixth dynasty of the Old Kingdom, about 4300 years ago," says Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass.

"Thirty mummies and skeletons were discovered, including a wooden sarcophagus that has been sealed since the pharaonic era in the burial chamber at a depth of 11 metres."

Four other stone sarcophagi and another wooden one were also found in the tomb. Twenty of the mummies were stored in niches.

The mud-brick tomb commemorates a priest who was also a choir leader, says Hawass.