It has been a source of enduring fascination for archaeologists and amateur Egyptologists everywhere: what exactly happened to the sarcophagus of Menkaure, one of Egypt's greatest Pharaohs ?
Now, more than 170 years after it was found and lost, the mystery could be solved.
Built from polished blue basalt to transport the king's earthly remains to the next world, the elaborately decorated vessel lay hidden inside the third-largest of Giza's renowned Pyramids for more than 4,000 years.
In 1837 the British colonel Richard William Howard Vyse blasted his way into Menkaure's sepulchral chamber using gunpowder and discovered the stone casket.
The mummy was missing by that time — ancient Arabic graffiti indicated that the colonel was not the first to find the chamber — and he realised that his discovery could open the way for a new generation of grave robbers.
“As the sarcophagus would have been destroyed had it remained in the Pyramid,” he noted in his diaries, “I resolved to send it to the British Museum.”