Explorers Discover 2,500-Year-Old High Priest Mummy on Live TV: 'The Thrill of a Lifetime'
"Never in my 50 years in archaeology have I experienced something on such a grand scale as this,” said Egyptologist Dr. Zahi Hawass
Discovery Channel viewers on Sunday got to go back 2,500 years in time for a brief moment to witness Egyptian mummies — and even a rare wax head.
During Expedition Unknown: Egypt Live on Sunday, Egyptian archaeologists and explorers went in underground tombs and the chambers of remote burial site Al-Ghorifa in Middle Egypt, which is about 165 miles south of Cairo.
The experts said they discovered the mummy of a high priest, a “Great of the Five Priest of Thoth,” who was covered in gold banding and other artifacts, along with two other mummies who appeared to be directly connected, according to a press release.
The second mummy was inside the “Family Tomb,” along with an “Egyptian board game, the remains of a family dog and four intact canopic jars used to store a mummy’s organs,” the network said. What they found in the tomb, along with the inscriptions on his sarcophagus, suggests the mummy was a singer in the temple or an Egyptian god known as Thoth.
“Never in my 50 years in archaeology have I experienced something on such a grand scale as this,” said Egyptologist Dr. Zahi Hawass. “The findings here are completely special and totally unique. This is what keeps me going. It is what keeps me feeling young and alive!”
Discovery said the ancient Egyptian necropolis was a mystery before Sunday’s live broadcast. “In 1927, an antiquities inspector first discovered the sarcophagus of a high priest in this area. However, the sarcophagus was robbed and the mummy was missing,” the network said. “In this historic moment, Discovery cameras were rolling live at the dig site as the mummy of a powerful high priest was revealed.”
“This has been such an amazing experience,” said adventurer Josh Gates after the broadcast. “There aren’t many people who can say they’ve gone down into unexplored ancient tombs — especially with a living legend like Dr. Hawass. We were able to document spectacular artifacts and mummies and bring viewers along in real time. It was the thrill of a lifetime.”
The experts believe the wax head is the mold of “Irt Hrw,” one of the high priests. “This extraordinary wax head is the exact cast of a 2,500-year-old high priest mummy — with such detailed features that he could have easily been picked out on the street from it,” Discovery said.