Untouched 4,400-year-old Egyptian tomb uncovered deep under sand in Saqqara

Dec 17, 2018

The latest in a series of archaeological discoveries in recent months, a new tomb was uncovered in the desert west of Cairo. The find was described as “one of a kind in the last decades” by Mostafa Waziri, Egyptian secretary-general of Supreme Council of Antiquities.

The tomb will likely provide clues into the lives of royal officials with further discoveries yet to come.

Dating back almost 4,400 years, the tomb was found buried 5 meters under the sand in what was once a vast royal cemetery in the Saqqara pyramid complex.

The entrance of a newly discovered tomb belonging to the high priest Wahtye who served during the 5th dynasty reign of King Neferirkare (from 2500 to 2300 BC) (©Getty Images | KHALED DESOUKI)

It is believed that the tomb’s owner once served King Neferirkare, who ruled during the Old Kingdom in the 5th dynasty.

The contents of the tomb were in remarkably good condition. Inside, hieroglyphs indicate the name and title of the deceased: Wahtye, who was the royal purification priest, royal supervisor, and inspector of the sacred boat. Buried with him were his wife, Weret Ptah, and his mother, Merit Meen. Also inscribed on the walls were everyday scenes depicting hunting, sailing, and pottery-making.

A view of a newly discovered tomb belonging to the high priest Wahtye (©Getty Images | KHALED DESOUKI)

Laid out as a rectangular gallery, spanning 10 meters long (running north to south) and 3 meters wide (running east to west), the walls are lined with 18 larger niches, each containing colorfully painted statues of pharaohs, the high priest himself, and his relatives. Twenty-six smaller niches run along the wall near the floor, each containing unidentified figures, some standing and some sitting cross-legged.

Five shafts were found inside the tomb in all, one of which was already open, but empty, while the others are still closed. One is likely to contain the priest—exciting news to be sure.

“This shaft should lead to a coffin or a sarcophagus of the owner of the tomb,” Waziri said. Exploration of these closed chambers could begin as early as Sunday.

©Getty Images | KHALED DESOUKI
©Getty Images | KHALED DESOUKI
©Getty Images | KHALED DESOUKI
©Getty Images | KHALED DESOUKI
©Getty Images | KHALED DESOUKI
©Getty Images | KHALED DESOUKI
©Getty Images | KHALED DESOUKI

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