CAIRO -- Egypt on Thursday said it uncovered several 4,300-year-old tombs in Saqqara as it continues a series of discoveries in the ancient burial ground.
The tombs date back to the Fifth and Sixth dynasties of the Old Kingdom (2686-2181 B.C.), officials said in Saqqara, which lies some 19 miles south of Cairo.
Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, who led the team that made the discovery in Saqqara's Gisr Al-Mudir area, said "12 beautifully carved statues" were also found as well as two deep burial shafts, one of which includes what he described as possibly the "most complete mummy found in Egypt to date."
"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 tomb is decorated with scenes of daily life," Hawass said.
"The second largest tomb belonged to Meri, who held many important titles, such as keeper of the secrets and assistant of the great leader of the palace."
Another tomb featured a handful of statues of unidentified individuals, including two couples.
Hawass said the main highlight was the uncovering of a 15-meter-deep burial shaft where a "large rectangular limestone sarcophagus" was found at its bottom.
The mummy of a man called Hekashepes was found inside, he revealed. It is covered with gold leaf.
“This mummy may be the oldest and most complete mummy found in Egypt to date,” Hawass added.
Wooden and stone statues were also uncovered in another 10-meter-deep shaft, as was a stone sarcophagus that included a mummy of a man called Fetek, according to the inscriptions found on the coffin.
Egypt hopes a string of discoveries will help revive its ailing tourism industry, a key source of hard currency.
Extensive excavation efforts in Saqqara in recent years have led to several high-profile archaeological discoveries, including the unearthing of a 4,400-year-old tomb of royal priest Wahtye in 2018 and the discovery of hundreds of mummified animals and statues a year later.