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CNN Staff – Renowned researcher and humanitarian Dr. Sherif R. Zaki has died at the age of 65.
The iconic Egyptologist was best known for helping to uncover the Egyptian royal burial mummification tradition and for helping investigate the authenticity of the tomb of Queen Hatshepsut, currently under construction in the Atbara Valley and becoming the focus of his last project.
Dr. Zaki studied at the British School in Cairo and worked at the British Museum and the Louvre before being appointed Egypt’s first chief archaeologist in 1983. He oversaw the excavations of the Hellenistic and Pharaonic remains of the Valley of the Kings during the 1990s and was widely believed to have played a role in helping to revive interest in Egypt, which had experienced years of neglect.
Dr. Zaki also founded Dr. Sherif R. Zaki Charitable Foundation, which over the last two decades was credited with helping to rescue about 500 endangered Pharaonic tombs from looting and earthquake damage.
As part of his final project, Zaki, who was on the board of directors of the Greek American Heritage Foundation, spent six months digging into the tomb’s foundation and discovered one of the oldest mummies ever found in the Valley of the Kings. The mummy is “the most complete mummy known to date,” according to The New York Times.
The process of investigating the tomb was already underway when Dr. Zaki’s accident occurred in October. The doors to his car were closed, but while the interior panels were still open he lost control and hit a curb. The car hit a wall and crashed through two more walls before stopping on the cement.
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