(CNN) — Archaeologists have discovered what may be the oldest mummy ever found in Egypt.
The 4,300-year-old mummy belonged to Djed Sepsh, a wealthy and prominent 35-year-old man, archaeologist Zahi Hawass, a former Egyptian antiquities minister, told CNN on Friday.
“This is the oldest mummy ever found in Egypt, complete and encased in gold,” he said, calling it “a most amazing find.”
Hawass said he and a team of 10 assistants were discovered 20 meters underground in the Khizr el-Mudir complex, in the shadow of the ancient Step Pyramid of Djoser in the city of Saqqara.
According to Hawass, the mummy was contained in a 25-ton stone coffin, the lid alone weighing five tons, in one of the shafts the team entered.
When the team opened the lid, Hawass said, “an ancient and beautiful mummy was covered with layers of gold, with a headdress and chest bracelet, indicating that it was a rich man.”
Among the many Old Kingdom artifacts found were two tombs, one of which belonged to the reign of King Yunas during the Fifth Dynasty between 2494 and 2487 BC, Hawass said.
Three statues representing a person were found in a well, and nine statues were found behind a false door.
The statues are important because they “allow us to learn for the first time about the art of the Old Kingdom, which includes double statues, single statues, servant statues, all kinds of different statues,” the archaeologist said.
Another stone coffin similar to the mummified rich man’s is to be opened next week.
Hawass says the discovery means the tomb was for a very important person, “second only to the king.”
The Step Pyramid was the first pyramid built by the ancient Egyptians, dating back to the beginning of the Third Dynasty between 2667 and 2648 BC, and is the oldest stone structure known from ancient Egypt, according to the country’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.
A sprawling necropolis located 32 kilometers south of Cairo, in 2021 it was the scene of several amazing discoveries, including the mortuary temple of Queen Nyarid, wife of King Teti, the first king of the 6th dynasty of the Old Kingdom.
In the same year, archaeologists discovered that B.C. They discovered the tomb of the chief treasurer of King Ramses II, who ruled Egypt between 1279 and 1213. A large collection of ancient bronze statues and sarcophagi was discovered in May last year.