University of Pennsylvania archaeologists say they have found the tomb of a previously unknown Egyptian pharaoh who ruled more than 3,600 years ago, the first discovery of what they predict could be more than a dozen tombs from a forgotten dynasty.
The tomb, found last week, was heavily looted, but hieroglyphs on the chamber walls clearly identified it as belonging to a ruler named Woseribre Senebkay.
The researchers already have begun excavating several nearby sites that appear to be from the same dynasty, said Josef Wegner, a Penn associate professor of Egyptology.
“It looks like there’s a whole royal necropolis of this lost dynasty,” said Wegner, an associate curator at Penn’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
Archaeologists had suspected the existence of the unknown pharaohs from an ancient list of rulers called the Turin King List.
The name of Senebkay matches one of the partial names on the list, said Wegner, who identified the tomb’s occupant with the help of graduate student Kevin Cahail.
“In the later king lists, they don’t appear. They just kind of vanish,” Wegner said.
The tomb, dated to 1650 B.C.E., appears to have been raided by tomb robbers in ancient times, Wegner said.
Preliminary work , conducted by Penn graduate students Paul Verhelst and Matthew Olson, suggests that Senebkay stood about 5 feet, 10 inches tall and died in his mid- to late 40s.