“One of a kind,” the nearly 4,400-year-old tomb discovered in Egypt

This photo was taken on December 15, 2018 shows a view of a newly-discovered tomb belonging to the high priest “Wahtye”, who, during the fifth dynasty reign of King Neferirkare (between 2500-2300 BC) in the necropolis Saqqara in Egypt. KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images

Archaeologists in Egypt discovered the burial place of a high priest, which dates back more than 4,000 years ago.

The grave was found in the pyramid of Saqqara complex in the vicinity of Cairo, is filled with colourful hieroglyphics and images of pharaohs, National Geographic reports. Some of the scenes show the owner, a royal priest, called Wahtye, with his mother, wife and other family members.

This cemetery is “one of a kind in the last few decades,” said Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, in a statement. “The color is almost intact, even though the tomb has been almost 4,400 years old.”


GIZA, EGYPT – DECEMBER 15: An inside view of Saqqara excavation after a 4,400-Year-Old Tomb belonging to a Pharaoh’s era discovered in Giza, Egypt on December 15, 2018. (Ahmed Al-Sayed/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The tomb owner served King Neferirkare. In addition to the name of the deceased, hieroglyphics carved into the stone above the tomb of the door are several titles.

The tomb of the rectangular gallery is reportedly covered with painted bas-reliefs, sculptures and inscriptions, all in excellent shape considering how much time has passed.


The reliefs Wahtye himself, his wife Weret Ptah, and his mother Merit Believe, as well as daily activities that include hunting, sailing, and the production of goods, such as pottery, according to National Geographic. The tomb has a total of 45 images, including large painted images of the priest and his family.

The team of Egyptian archaeologists working here have found five axes in the tomb, a number of which are sealed and could contain other exciting finds.

A view in a recently-discovered tomb of the Fifth Dynasty royal Priest during the reign of King Nefer Ir-Ka-Re, the name “Wahtye”, on the site of the step pyramid of Saqqara. (Photo by Mahmoud Abdelghany/picture-alliance via Getty Images)

“This shaft must lead to a coffin or sarcophagus of the owner of the tomb,” said Waziri, indicating his best estimate for the location of the finds to come. Other shafts might hold the grave goods of the deceased.

In the past few years, Egypt has heavily promoted new archaeological discoveries to the international media and diplomats in the hope of attracting more tourists to the country. The vital tourism sector has suffered from years of political unrest and the violence that followed a 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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