Cairo - German archaeologists have discovered a rare wooden Pharaonic sarcophagus in the southern city of Luxor, the first such find in nearly two centuries, the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities said on Tuesday.
Halil Ghali, a senior antiquities official for southern Egypt, said the empty sarcophagus, from the 13th Dynasty (1785-1680 BC), "is believed to be the biggest of its type".
It is 2,7m long, 1,5m high and one metre wide.
A hieroglyphic inscription on its face revealed that it belonged to an official called "Amni", said the council.
But a member of the team said an inscription found inside indicated it was originally made for a woman, Jehset, believed to be Amni's wife.
"We have not yet determined why it was redone and assigned to her husband," said the German expert.
No body was found inside the sarcophagus, which was believed to have been pillaged by robbers.
Other inscriptions were found on the inside surface, as well as drawings, one of which depicted a funerary scene.
The sarcophagus was found in a chamber with three rooms. Two of the rooms were built facing west. The third and smaller room, in which the sarcophagus had been laid, was facing the north, the council said.
The sarcophagus was more or less intact, with only minor damage.
Many items that should have been in the sarcophagus were not, including several pieces of gold amulets, according to the council. Only a few pieces of pottery were left.
"A similar but smaller sarcophagus was discovered in 1820," said Zahi Hawas, secretary general of the council. "It belonged to the same period and a woman called 'Mentohetip'." - Sapa-AFP