The skeleton of the previously unknown pharaoh Woseribre Senebkay lays on a table. The king's body was originally mummified, but robbers ripped the body apart. Credit: Penn Museum
PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- A giant sarcophagus has led researchers to a tomb of an unknown pharaoh and evidence of a forgotten Egyptian dynasty from 3,600 years ago, archaeologists say.
Archaeologists working at the southern Egyptian site of Abydos discovered the tomb of Woseribre Senebkay -- the first material proof of a forgotten Abydos Dynasty between 1650 and 1600 B.C., the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology reported.
The work that led to the finding of Pharaoh Senebkay's tomb began during summer 2013 when the Penn Museum team, led by Josef Wegner, the museum's Egyptian Section Associate Curator, discovered a 60-ton royal sarcophagus chamber at South Abydos. Probably built for Pharaoh Sobekhotep I, the first king of Egypt's 13th Dynasty, it showed signs of having been vandalized by later pharaohs for materials to construct and equip their own tombs, the researchers said.
One of those kings, whose name is unknown, had extracted and reused the quartzite sarcophagus chamber, they said, and another king's tomb recently found nearby is that of a previously unknown pharaoh, Woseribre-Senebkay.
Senebkay's tomb was badly plundered by ancient tomb robbers who had ripped apart the king's mummy and stripped the tomb of its gilded surfaces. The Penn Museum archaeologists were able to recover the remains of king Senebkay amid debris of his fragmentary coffin and funerary mask, the museum reported.
The pharaohs of the Abydos Dynasty were forgotten to history and their royal necropolis unknown until this discovery of Senebkay's tomb, Wegner said.
"It's exciting to find not just the tomb of one previously unknown pharaoh, but the necropolis of an entire forgotten dynasty," he said. "Continued work in the royal tombs of the Abydos Dynasty promises to shed new light on the political history and society of an important but poorly understood era of Ancient Egypt."