Archaeologists working at a dig in Abydos in southern Egypt have uncovered the remains of a previously unknown pharaoh, King Woseribre Senebkay, whose sarcophagus provides the first evidence supporting a forgotten dynasty from circa 1650 b.c.
The Penn Museum, from the University of Pennsylvania, reports they have a team working in conjunction with the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities; the team discovered the new pharaoh’s remains adjacent to another recently unearthed burial site of King Sobekhotep of the 13th Dynasty.
“We were pretty puzzled for two days. It was a king’s name that didn’t appear anywhere else in history, so we didn’t know who he was at first,” said Dr. Josef Wegner, the dig’s lead archaeologist via the Daily Pennsylvanian.
According to The Guardian, Danish archaeologist Kim Ryholt first theorized about the lost dynasty’s existence in 1997, but no physical evidence had been found to support the idea until now. The discovery of the new pharaoh confirms the existence of a separate dynasty in Abydos, contemporary to both the Hyksos and Theban dynasties.
The new pharaoh’s tomb is described as modest in size, suggesting limited availability of resources in the Abydos dynasty. In fact, the Penn Museum reports, part of Senebkay’s canopic chest was reused from that of Sobekhotep I and still bore the other pharaoh’s name.
“It suggests that the king had economic challenges, which has to do with the period of struggle and fragmentation of kingdom,” Wegner said via NBC News.
In the same area as Senebkay’s crypt, there is new evidence of around 16 royal tombs from the period of 1650-1600.
“It’s exciting to find not just the tomb of one previously unknown pharaoh, but the necropolis of an entire forgotten dynasty,” Wegner told Penn Museum. “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.”
NBC says Wegner will return to the site to continue excavating in the spring.
What do you think about the discovery of an unknown pharaoh and a new dynasty?