The latest archaeological discovery in Egypt is causing quite a stir.
A new tomb discovered in the city of Saqqara (near Cairo) is special for a number of reasons. First, it’s age. It dates back nearly 4,400 years – and it’s in amazing shape for its age.
Digging out the vast space was quite a feat for archaeologists – the monument is roughly 33 feet long and 10 feet wide, with an additional basement.
The tomb is fully intact, which is rare, since looters have been digging around Egypt for hundreds of years, plundering the best of what they could find to sell on the black market.
Experts think that it escaped looting because it was built into a mountainside and wasn’t easily seen.
The tomb houses the sarcophogus of a royal purification priest, which means no expense was spared when building his final resting place. The priest was known as “Wahtye,” and the inscriptions inside his tomb suggested that he served during the reign of a King named Nefer-Ir-Ka-Re.
Because the tomb hasn’t seen the light of day in over 4000 years, the colors of the paintings inside are still vivid and the statues are in near pristine condition.
Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani reported on the excavation of lead archaeologist Mostafa Waziri and site director Sabry Farag, calling the find “one of a kind in the last decades.”
Saqqara is also home to a number of other epic archaeological finds, including the famous Step Pyramid.
In November, al-Anani reported that a total 7 new tombs had been found in the area, including a vast cat cemetary.
But this new find will give archaeologists great insight into the life of this ancient priest and life in general in the era in which he lived.
The walls of his tomb tell the story of Wahtye’s life, including scenes with his mother, wife, and children.
Other drawings show more general scenes from ancient Egyptian life, such as wine and pottery making, musical performances, sailing, hunting, and even the making of funeral furniture.
We can learn a great deal about Egyptian history from the Old Kingdom by interpreting these beautiful buried engravings.
The tomb was discovered back in November, but archaeologists only breached the entrance a few days ago, since it was sealed tightly.
Once they were inside, they found a vast series of room and tunnels with 50 distinct spaces overall.
As you can see, the breaching of the tomb was quite the news event, with journalists angling for an early view of the scene:
There are a total of 5 burial shafts, Waziri said – so excavating and interpreting those will keep archaeologists busy for years to come. We’re not sure yet who else is buried in the tomb.
The real work began just a few days ago and we’re likely to learn more about this ancient family the the culture they came from by the day.
For now, these breathtaking pictures will have to do, but are certainly enough to let our imaginations run wild about the possibilities.
Egypt’s tourism business has suffered in recent years after political turmoil, but it’s antinquities minister is trying to help revive it by highlighting the recent discovereies.
While the tomb won’t be a readily accessibly tourist attraction while it’s being studied, the photos alone are enough to draw us to the country’s open monuments just to catch a glimpse of something similar.
It’s not always easy to get excited about everyday life from thousands of years ago, but there’s something truly marvelous about this tomb and the stories it holds.
And what’s even more exciting is that the next few years will only bring us more information, perhaps even changing what we understand about ancient Egyptian culture.
Even if it doesn’t, there’s something truly special about viewing unseen art this old.
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Source: BBC News