In one of the largest tombs ever found in Luxor, Egypt, archaeologists have discovered a sarcophagus holding the mummy of a woman named Pouyou who lived sometime during the 18th dynasty (1550-1295 B.C.), as announced by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities.
The well-preserved mummy dates back more than 3,000 years. At that time, Egypt was independent and powerful, at times controlling an empire that stretched as far as modern-day Syria. The sarcophagus was one of two found earlier in November by a French-led mission in the Al-Assasif necropolis on the western bank of the Nile.
The first one had been opened earlier and examined by officials, although it’s not yet clear who it belongs to. Its painting and design indicate that it dates to the 17th dynasty (1580-1550 B.C.), the French team said in its statement. At that time, the Hyksos, a group from west Asia, controlled part of Egypt.
The latest unveiling was the first time authorities had opened a previously unopened sarcophagus before international media.
“One sarcophagus was rishi-style, which dates back to the 17th dynasty, while the other sarcophagus was from the 18th dynasty,” the minister of antiquities, Khaled al-Anani, said. “The two tombs were present with their mummies inside.”
The 18th dynasty dates back to the 13th century BC, a period noted for some of the most well-known pharaohs, including Tutankhamun and Ramses II. Located between the royal tombs at the Valley of the Queens and the Valley of the Kings, the Al-Assasif necropolis is the burial site of nobles and senior officials close to the pharaohs. Among the finds in the tomb were sarcophagi, statues and some 1,000 funerary figurines called ushabtis, made of wood, faience, and clay.
The tomb belonged to Thaw-Irkhet-If, the mummification supervisor at the Temple of Mut in Karnak, according to the ministry. The tomb, which also contains mummies, skeletons and skulls, dates back to the middle kingdom almost 4,000 years ago but was reused during the late period.
Rubble 300m deep was removed over five months to uncover the tomb, which contained coloured ceiling with paintings depicting the owner and his family. Egypt has revealed over a dozen ancient discoveries since the beginning of this year.
The country hopes these discoveries will brighten its image abroad and revive interest among travelers who once flocked to its famed pharaonic temples and pyramids.