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New Egyptian King Discovered

First Posted: Jan 15, 2014 03:27 PM EST

Archeologists in Egypt say they've uncovered the burial site of a previously-unknown pharaoh who apparently ruled more than 3,600 years ago.

The remains of King Senebkay were uncovered at South Abydos in the country's Sohag province, about 300 miles south of Cairo, by an expedition from the University of Pennsylvania working in cooperation with the Egyptian government, the antiqueties ministry said in a statement.

The name of King Senebkay, never before noted in ancient Egyptian history, was found inscribed in hieroglyphics written inside a royal cartouche, an oval with a horizontal line at one end that indicates a royal name, the ministry said.

Photographs released with the statement showed what looked to be a damaged sarcophagus in a burial chamber with no roof, surrounded by stone walls decorated with painted images.

The pharaoh's skeleton was also depicted in the released photos, laid out on a white sheet. A caption read: "He was originally mummified but his body was pulled apart by ancient tomb robbers."

Ali al-Asfar, an antiquities ministry official, was quoted in the statement, clarifying that the tomb was apparently ransacked in the past. "No funerary furniture was found in the tomb, confirming it had been robbed in the ancient pharaonic ages."

Expedition leader Joseph Wegner was also quoted in the statement written in Arabic, that "the modesty of the size of the tomb points to the decline of economic conditions in this period."

Experts suspect King Senebkay reign around 1650 BC, during a period known as the second intermediate period, when central authority collapsed and small kingdoms rose up, between the end of the so-called "Middle Kingdom" and the start of the "New Kingdom."

Al-Asfar said the discovery provides many new details about a complex time in Egypt's ancient past.

"This adds to our pharaonic history, and sheds light on an era about which we knew very little previously," he said

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