Spanish archaeologists unearth more than 3,800-year-old sarcophagus, mummy in Aswan
Courtesy: Ministry of Antiquities

A team of Spanish archaeologists from the University of Jaén has unearthed a well-preserved sarcophagus containing the mummy of an Ancient Egyptian Middle Kingdom noblewoman in Aswan Governorate’s Qubbet al-Hawa necropolis.

Upon examining the hieroglyphs on the sarcophagus, researchers have identified the woman as Sattjeni, the daughter of Prince Sarenput II, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Antiquities. She is believed to have lived sometime during the Middle Kingdom’s 12th Dynasty (1991 BC – 1802 BC) and may have died during the reign of Pharaoh Amenemhat III (1860 BC – 1814 BC).

The Ministry of Antiquities emphasized Sattjeni’s historical importance, describing her as “a pivotal figure in the Middle Kingdom,” along with being the “mother of two of the most renowned governmental officials in Aswan” during the reign of King Amenemhat III. 

Sattjeni was found inside a double sarcophagus made of cedar wood and her body was wrapped in linen. The ancient noblewoman bore a funerary mask made of cartonnage, a mask typically made of layers of linen or papyrus covered in plaster.   

Ancient Egyptian noblewoman Sattjeni

Ancient Egyptian noblewoman Sattjeni

Qubbet al-Hawa necropolis is located along the western bank of the Nile, across the river from the southern Egyptian city of Aswan – which was formerly known as the ancient city of Swenett – around 800 kilometers south of Cairo. Archeologists estimate that Qubbet al-Hawa dates back over 3,870 years to Ancient Egypt’s Middle Kingdom (2686 BC – 2181 BC).

The University of Jaén archeology team, headed by archaeologist Alejandro Jiménez Serrano, has been conducting excavations near Qubbet al-Hawa since 2008.

In this time, the Spanish team has made several unprecedented discoveries. In early 2015, the archeologists excavated the skeletal remains of a noblewoman who exhibited the earliest documented case of breast cancer. At approximately 4,200-years-old, the woman is estimated to have lived during the time of the Old Kingdom’s Sixth Dynasty (2345 BC – 2181 BC).


You have a right to access accurate information, be stimulated by innovative and nuanced reporting, and be moved by compelling storytelling.
Subscribe now to become part of the growing community of members who help us maintain our editorial independence.
Know more

Join now

Your support is the only way to ensure independent,
progressive journalism