4,000-year-old tomb unveiled

Egyptian find has ancient statues and hieroglyphs in near perfect condition

First light: A visitor gazes at the sculpted figures on the walls of the tomb of Wahtye in Saqqara, Egypt. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
First light: A visitor gazes at the sculpted figures on the walls of the tomb of Wahtye in Saqqara, Egypt. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

He was known as Wahtye, and served as a royal priest or high-ranking religious figure carrying the title “divine inspector”.

He must have been someone of great importance because when he was buried in the southwest outskirts of what is now Cairo, his tomb was filled with colourful and elaborate stone carvings that give some sense of the rituals of life and death in ancient Egypt more than 4,400 years ago.

Egyptian antiquities authorities unveiled Wahtye’s tomb at a press conference in Saqqara, south-west of Cairo, at the weekend .

They have also announced plans to dig deeper into the well-preserved complex, which was discovered during excavation work that began in April.

The astonishingly well-preserved tomb provides insights into life in the 24th century BC during the reign of Fifth Dynasty Egyptian King Neferirkare Kakai, a time of relative prosperity and order.

Archaeologists are to begin inspecting five shafts that led out from the tomb, believing one will lead to Wahtye’s sarcophagus, which has yet to be discovered. The chamber’s walls include scenes showing Wahtye with his wife, named Weret Ptah, his mother and other relatives.

They also feature depictions of pottery, furniture and wine production, religious rituals, musical performances, naval vessels and men hunting animals, according to Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities.


Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani announced the find in Saqqara, which is also home to the world-famous Step Pyramid.

He said the tomb contains scores of statues of different sizes and colours.

Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of Egypt’s supreme council of antiquities, described the discovery as “one of a kind” in recent decades.


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“The colour is almost intact, even though the tomb is almost 4,400 years old,” he is reported to have said, according to Reuters.

The tomb is 10 metres long, three metres wide and just under three metres high, Mr Waziri said.

The walls are decorated with hieroglyphs and statues of pharaohs. Mr Waziri said the tomb was unique because of the statues and its near perfect condition.

Nearly two dozen foreign diplomats, members of Egypt’s parliament and heads of international archaeological missions and institutes attended the unveiling of Wahtye’s tomb.

The discovery comes as Egyptian authorities have been touting archaeological finds in an effort to entice tourists back to the country in the wake of years of turmoil ignited by the Arab Spring uprisings.

The vital tourism sector has suffered from the years of political turmoil that have followed the 2011 uprising.

The tombs at Saqqara, located around 20km south-east of the Great Pyramid and Sphinx at Giza, are less famous than other Egyptian sites. However, they boast some of the best-preserved burial sites in the nation, with elaborate hieroglyphs and vibrantly coloured stone figurines.

Among the recent discoveries announced at Saqqara were the tomb of a high-ranking military official dating back 3,300 years, a 2,500-year-old mummy wearing a gold and silver mask and a tomb complex filled with scores of statues depicting cats.

Irish Independent


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