'Exceptionally well-preserved' tomb of Fifth Dynasty royal priest discovered in Egypt's Saqqara
An Egyptian archaeological mission has uncovered an "exceptionally well-preserved" tomb belonging to a Fifth Dynasty royal priest at Saqqara, the antiquities ministry has said.
The mission at the Sacred Animal Necropolis in Saqqara discovered the tomb of a royal purification priest named "Wahtye" from the reign of King Nefer Ir-Ka-Re, Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany announced.
A large number of foreign and Arab ambassadors and members of Egypt's parliament attended an event announcing the new discovery.
El-Enany said that the tomb is exceptionally well-preserved and painted, with walls decorated with colourful scenes depicting the owner of the tomb with his mother, wife and family as well as a number of niches with large coloured statues of the deceased and his family.
El-Enany describes it as "the most beautiful tomb" found this year.
Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities and the head of the excavation mission, said that the mission was able to reach the facade of the tomb during its second excavation season in November, but was not able to enter it then as the doors were sealed.
Excavations continued, and after removing the debris from the tomb's façade, a lintel on top of the tomb's door was revealed, inscribed with three hieroglyphic lines: the name and different titles of the owner, who was the royal purification priest, the supervisor of King Nefer-Ir-Ka-Re and the inspector of the holy boat.
Waziri added the tomb's walls have several coloured inscriptions showing the name of the wife of the tomb's owner (Weret Ptah), and many scenes featuring the deceased with his mother (Merit Meen) and his family, as well as scenes depicting the fabrication of pottery and wine, making religious offering, musical performances, boats ailing, the manufacturing of the funerary furniture, and hunting.
Inside the tomb there are 18 niches displaying 24 large coloured statues carved in rock and depicting the owner of the tomb and his family.
Meanwhile, the lower part of the tomb contains 26 small niches with 31 statues of a yet unidentified person standing, or in the seated scribe position.
"This statue might be of the deceased or a member of his family," Waziri said.
Sabry Farag, the general director of the Saqqara archaeological site, said that the tomb consists of a rectangular hall about 10 metres long from north to south, 3 metres wide from east to west, and about 3 metres high, with a basement at the end of the tomb.
Waziri said that the tomb contains five burial shafts, all of which will be excavated, in addition to two false doors, one belonging to the deceased and the second to his mother.
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