Archaeologists in Egypt Just Unearthed a Previously Unknown Pharaoh’s Tomb

Ancient Egypt’s King Senebkay just arose after a 3,650 year slumber

Photo: Penn Museum

When it comes to archeaology, you'd think Egypt would be pretty picked-over place, with all the treasures and tombs cracked open by Napoleon and, later, by 19th and early 20th century explorers. And yet, there are still discoveries to be made—the remains of a new, previously unknown pharaoh have just emerged from the sands.

King Senebkay, the Penn Museum reports, lived some 3,650 years ago, but until now, his reign was completely forgotten. Archeologists discovered his tomb in Abydos, one of Egypt's oldest cities, located around two hours north of Luxor. The pharaoh's name was found inscribed on his tomb. Until now, it had only turned up in scattered fragments on one list of Egyptian rulers, CNN reports. Senebkay, the archaeologists say, reigned during a previously unknown dynasty, which they are calling the Abydos Dynasty. Here's CNN on what the archaeologists uncovered: 

They came upon the structure while excavating the adjacent tomb of an earlier pharaoh, King Sobekhotep I.

The newfound tomb contains what appear to be the plundered remains of a royal burial, including the pharaoh's pulled-apart skeleton. Senebkay was apparently 5-foot-10 and died in his mid- to late 40s, archaeologists said.

At some point in the past, however, tomb robbers had beaten the archeological team to the site. Still, there was evidence remaining, including Senebkay's skeleton and canoptic chest. The chest, it turned out, was a hand-me-down from another nearby tomb belonging to an earlier pharaoh, Sobekhotep I. The wooden chest still bore that earlier pharaoh's name. That helped the team date the remains to about 1625 BC, and also gave clues about what Senebkay's reign might have been like. As arcaeologists told CNN, "It suggests that the king had economic challenges, which has to do with the period of struggle and fragmentation of kingdom.”

The team hopes that further excavations, scheduled for this spring, will help fill in more gaps in the mysterious Abydos Dynasty, CNN reports. 


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