Archaeologists discover golden mummy in Egyptian city of the dead

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Statues of wealthy priests, officials, servants and two sarcophagi were also found in underground tombs at a newly excavated site in Saqqara, south of Cairo. Discovery team leader Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s former antiquities minister, said “12 beautifully carved statues” were among the precious artefacts.

But he was most excited by two burial shafts, one of which contained what could be the most complete mummy found in the country.

Mr Hawass said yesterday: “The most important tomb belongs to Khnumdjedef, an inspector of the officials, a supervisor of the nobles and a priest in the pyramid complex of Unas, the last king of the fifth dynasty.

“The second largest belonged to Meri, who held many important titles such as keeper of the secrets and assistant of the great leader of the palace.” Another burial at the site featured statues of individuals, including two couples.

The main highlight was a 49 feet burial shaft with a large limestone sarcophagus at the bottom. Mr Hawass said: “I put my head inside the sarcophagus. There was a beautiful mummy of a man covered in layers of gold.

“It may be the oldest and most complete mummy found in Egypt to date.”

Another sarcophagus included a mummy of a man called Fetek.

Egypt’s ministry of tourism and antiquities said the artefacts, found under an ancient stone enclosure near the Saqqara pyramids, dated from 2500 to 2100BC.

The Saqqara site, part of a sprawling necropolis at Egypt’s ancient capital of Memphis, includes the famed Giza pyramids.

The Memphis ruins were designated a Unesco World Heritage site in the 1970s.

Yesterday’s announcement was the latest in a series of new discoveries announced in Egypt in recent days. Dozens of burial sites from the New Kingdom era and ruins of an ancient Roman city were found near the southern city of Luxor.

On Tuesday, Cairo University scientists said CT scans revealed previously unknown facts about a teenage boy from about 300BC.

Intricate details of amulets inserted inside his mummified body and the type of burial he received showed he had high social status.

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