A new Netflix documentary will provide a deep dive into an Egyptian archaeological treasure.
Arriving on the streaming platform on Wednesday, October 28, Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb follows a team of Egyptian researchers as they discover the resting place of Egyptian priest Wahtye, dating back more than 4,400 years.
The 2018 expedition made global headlines as it was deemed the most significant finding in Egypt for over 50 years. The series will capture the excitement of the discovery and the subsequent uncovering of a trove of historical gems including a mummified lion club.
Beside the team at every step of the way was a film crew led by James Tovell, a seasoned hand who directed episodes of documentary series I Am a Killer in 2018 and 2017's Web of Lies.
He described the shoot as a “mission that wasn’t like any other.”
“Shooting this film has been an experience full of thrilling surprises. Working with an Egyptian team that has a deep connection with their ancestors has made the project even more unique,” he said in a statement.
“Normally in archaeology, you labour for weeks to find anything. Here every 30 seconds there was a new jaw-dropping discovery. Such as, capturing on film the discovery of the first complete mummified lion cub in Egypt was a great moment for everyone. And then being privileged to excavate the burial shafts of the Old Kingdom priest Wahtye. The chance to excavate an Old Kingdom burial is a golden opportunity for any filmmaker.”
Other discoveries the documentary captures are the remains of a family whose death indicates they were infected by malaria, mummified humans in coffins and a temple dedicated to the Egyptian cat goddess Bastet.
Where is the Saqqara Tomb?
Located in the Saqqara necropolis complex south of Cairo, the area is less than a mile from the Step Pyramid. Estimated to be more than 4,600 years old, the structure is viewed as one of the oldest on earth and a major drawcard for history buffs.
In addition to documenting and preserving Egypt's heritage, the Saqqara expedition was part of drive by the Egyptian authorities to revitalise the tourism sector affected by years of political turmoil.
According to Egypt's Antiquities Ministry, the Saqqara tomb was the final abode Wahyte, a priest serving under the rule of fifth dynasty King Neferirkare, an Egyptian pharaoh whose reign historians deemed to have lasted between eight and 20 years in the early to mid-25th century BCE.
In announcing the 2018 discovery, antiquities minister Khaled El Enany told AFP the tomb was in good condition and decorated with scenes showing the royal priest with family members. "It is exceptionally well preserved, coloured, with sculpture inside. It belongs to a high official priest ... [and] is more than 4,400 years old."