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Bead-covered Mummy Discovered

March 3, 2005

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A secret door in an Egyptian tomb has led archaeologists to a spectacular find: a very much well-preserved mummy covered in beads that are intact 2,500 years after they were attached.

The group of archaeologists, from Australia, was exploring a tomb that was 4,200 years old, on a different mission, when they discovered the door, hidden behind a statue. The tomb that they had started in is thought to have contained the body of King Pepi II, who ruled from 2278 to 2184 B.C. He was the last ruler of the 6th Dynasty and enjoyed one of the longest reigns in Egyptian history. The statue is thought to depict Meri, the king's tutor. Another statue nearby is thought to depict Meri's wife.

Inside the newly discovered tomb, the archaeology team found three mummies, including the one containing all of the intact beads. This was "one of the best mummies ever preserved," according to Zahi Hawass, Egypt's top antiquities official. Most mummies from this period that have been discovered no longer have the beads that were commonly attached at the time of burial. This one has a large number of turquoise beads that still shine in light. The name of the person mummified is not yet known; he is thought to have been a middle-class official.

The tombs are in the cemetery of Saqqara, a hillside containing many ancient graves, 15 miles south of Cairo.

Hawass said that CT scans would soon be conducted on the recently discovered mummies. This same procedure was done recently on the mummy of King Tut. The results of those scans will be revealed in the new few weeks, Hawass said.

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