(CNN) — Archaeologists have discovered what may be the oldest mummy ever found in Egypt.
The 4,300-year-old mummy corresponded to a rich and important 35-year-old man named Djed Sepsh, archaeologist Zahi Hawass, former Egyptian Minister of Antiquities, told CNN on Friday.
“It is the oldest mummy, complete and covered in gold, ever found in Egypt,” he said, adding that it was “the most amazing discovery.”
Hawass said he and a team of 10 aides discovered the mummified man 20 meters underground in the Gisr el-Mudir compound, in the shadow of the ancient Step Pyramid of Djoser in the town of Saqqara.
The mummy was in a 25-ton stone coffin, the lid alone weighing five tons, in one of the shafts the team entered, according to Hawass.
Hawass said that when the team opened the lid, they found the “oldest and most beautiful mummy covered in layers of gold, with a headband and a chest bracelet, indicating that it was a wealthy man.”
Among the many other Old Kingdom artifacts discovered were two tombs, Hawass said, one of which dated to the reign of King Unas during the Fifth Dynasty, between 2494 and 2487 BC.
Three statues representing a person in a well were also found, and nine other statues behind a false door.
The statues are important because they allow us “to learn for the first time about Old Kingdom art that includes double statues, single statues, servant statues, all kinds of different statues,” the archaeologist said.
Another stone coffin similar to the one of the mummified rich man was also unearthed, due to be opened next week.
Hawass said the discovery means the cemetery was for very important people, “second only to the king.”
The Step Pyramid was the first pyramid built by the ancient Egyptians, between 2667 and 2648 BC during the early Third Dynasty, and is the oldest known stone structure from ancient Egypt, according to the country’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. .
Saqqara, a vast necropolis located about 32 kilometers south of Cairo, has been the site of many amazing discoveries, including the mortuary temple of Queen Nearit, wife of King Teti, the first king of the 6th Dynasty of the Old Kingdom, in 2021 .
In the same year, archaeologists discovered at the site the tomb of the chief treasurer of King Ramses II, who ruled Egypt between 1279 and 1213 BC. A large trove of ancient bronze statues and sarcophagi was also discovered in May last year.