Rare Gilded Death Mask Unearthed In Egypt

Discovery of the 2,000-year-old death mask is "a sensation," an expedition leader said, because most Egyptian dignitaries' tombs were looted in ancient times.

A team of Egyptian and German archaeologists has discovered a mummification workshop and a communal burial place that contained a rare gilded death mask, Egypt’s minister of antiquities announced Saturday.

The mask, which is more than 2,000 years old, is formed of silver with a thin layer of gold and appears to have been made for a priest of the Saite-Persian period, said Ramadan Badry Hussein, the leader of the expedition.

“The finding of this mask could be called a sensation,” Hussein, a professor at the University of Tubingen in Germany, said at a press conference in Egypt. “Very few masks of precious metals have been preserved to the present day, because the tombs of most ancient Egyptian dignitaries were looted in ancient times.”

The mummification workshop, found at the Saqqara necropolis of Memphis, is alongside a shaft that was used as a communal burial place. The last time this site was excavated was in 1900.

Some of the artifacts from the site will be put on display in the Grand Egyptian Museum, which is under construction, The Associated Press said.

The mummification workshop includes an embalmer’s cachette containing pottery vessels, bowls and measuring cups. Archaeologists are hoping to learn more about the oils used in the mummification process.

“We are in front of a gold mine of information about the chemical composition of these oils,” Hussein said, according to The Guardian.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the mask dated to the Sufi period. The mask is from the Saite-Persian period.

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