Newly discovered mummy proves existence of long-forgotten Egyptian dynasty

BY newsdesk  January 23, 2014 at 2:30 PM EDT

A painted scene of the goddesses Neith and Nut, protecting the canopic shrine of the pharaoh Senebkay. Photo by Jennifer Wegner/Penn Museum

When archaeologists from the University of Pennsylvania came across the tomb of King Senebkay in southern Egypt earlier this month, it was time to rewrite the history books.

A team lead by Josef Wegner discovered Senebkay’s 3,600 year-old remains, confirming the existence of a suspected but never proven dynasty first theorized by Danish archaeologist Kim Ryholt. Wegner thinks there may be many more mummies hidden nearby and the find is possibly the first of many in the area.

“We had just thought there would be a handful of king’s tombs,” Wegner told The Guardian. He has worked for more than two decades in the area where the ancient city of Abydos once stood, 300 miles south of where Cairo currently lies. “Now we’re looking at probably 20 pharaohs. There’s probably a whole dynasty of kings buried there.”

The site was first discovered in 1902, but left was left unexcavated. It has since been cleaned out by ancient grave robbers, however Wegner and his team were able to reconstruct much of Senebkay’s skeleton and translate his name from hieroglyphics found inside his tomb, reported The Independent.

Senebkay, who ruled a central area in Egypt at around 1,600 B.C., was about five feet, 10 inches, and died in his late 40s. He was the first or second king of the Abydos dynasty.

Although the team hopes to find more remains in the Abydos area, a treasure trove like the untouched tomb of Tutankhamen is unlikely.

“One can hope that there might be an intact one discovered,” Wegner said. “But really what we’re looking for is the fragments that the ancient tomb robbers left to us.”

H/T Zachary Treu