On the 25th of January 2011, the streets of Cairo were being ravaged by a rioting population, demanding the end of President Hosni Mubarak’s 30 year regime.
While the world was distracted by the dramatic scenes of chaos upon the streets above, deep within the ancient, dusty tunnels, a team of archaeologists led by Susanne Bickel of the University of Basel in Switzerland, was quietly making one of the most significant discoveries of the past century.
They had initially found the top of large round stone at the eastern end of the valley of the kings.
The archaeologists suspected that it was just the top of an abandoned shaft. But before they could investigate,due to Egypt’s political process regarding finds within the valley, they had to cover the stone rim with their own locked iron door, inform the Egyptian authorities, and apply for an official permit to excavate.
A year later, after gaining approval to excavate, Bickel returned with a team of two dozen people, including field director Elina Paulin-Grothe of the University of Basel, Egyptian inspector Ali Reda, and local workmen.
each took turns lying on the ground, head pressed against the shaft wall, one arm through a small hole next to the cap stone snapping photographs.
They left little doubt it was indeed am ancient tomb. On top of the debris rested a dusty black coffin carved from sycamore wood and decorated with large yellow hieroglyphs on its sides and top. Bickel has stated that she has never seen an Egyptian coffin in such a good condition before.
The dating of fragments of pottery made from Nile silt and pieces of plaster, commonly used to seal tomb entrances in ancient times, together with the age of other nearby sites, have indicated that the tomb could be more than 3 thousand years old.