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Egypt’s top archaeologist discovers 2,600-year-old mummy

Egypt's chief archaeologist Zahi Hawass speaks to the media about the rare intact mummy, unearthed by Egyptian archaeologists from a sealed sarcophagus at the Saqqara Step Pyramid. (REUTERS)

Egypt’s chief archaeologist has unveiled a completely preserved mummy inside a limestone sarcophagus sealed 2,600 years ago during pharaonic times. The mummy, exposed for the first time and shown to media Wednesday, lies in a narrow shaft 36 feet below ground at the ancient necropolis of Saqqara.

It is part of a burial chamber discovered three weeks ago holding eight wooden and limestone sarcophagi, along with 28 other mummies from the 26th Dynasty, Egypt’s last independent kingdom.

As antiquities chief Zahi Hawass watched, labourers used crowbars and picks to lift the lid and expose the mummy. Gently touching the mummy’s dark-stained wrappings, Hawass said such moments of discovery hold all the ‘passion of archaeology’.