Archaeologists have uncovered a 3,800-year-old Egyptian tomb that they believe contains the mummy of a member of a very important family from the Twelfth Dynasty of ancient Eygpt.
Along with the mummified corpse, the tomb contains pottery, wooden artworks, a heavily decorated funeral mask, and a painted coffin. Inscriptions along the coffin say that it contains the body of Shemai, who was the son of Satehotep and Khema and the younger brother of Sarenput II. Sarenput II was a general and nomarch, a kind of “Pharaoh-light” who would rule some Egyptian provinces under the reign of pharaoh Senusret II and Senusret III.
The discovery was made by the Spanish Archaeological Mission at the necropolis of Qubbet El-Hawa in Aswan, not far from the River Nile in southern Egypt. This site has been the place of discovery for 14 other members of Shemai’s family, as well. It is believed that Sarenput II held the position of governor of Elephantine, a small island in the Nile that is near this excavation site in modern-day Aswan.
Archeologists work away within the tomb. Ministry of Antiquities وزارة الآثار
In a statement from the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, the head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities department, Mahmoud Afifi, said that the discovery is “important” because it shows how far wealth and prestige followed anyone associated with the ancient Egyptian elite in the Twelfth Dynasty. It seems even those not actually in power but just associated with it, like Shemai, who was related to prominent figures, were showered in riches and recognition.
Dr Alejandro Jiménez-Serrano, Egyptologist and archeologist at the University of Jaen, said that the mummy was covered in a “beautiful” multi-colored mask and collar. “We have found the mummy body of Shemai, but we left him in his original position, in his coffin. The next year, we will have the opportunity to look [at] his face," he told Live Science.