Five ancient tombs discovered at Egypt's Saqqara necropolis

The oldest finding at 4,000 years old dates back to the Old Kingdom of ancient Egypt

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Egyptian archaeologists have unveiled five previously undiscovered ancient tombs in the Saqqara necropolis, about 20 kilometres south-west of Cairo.

An unveiling ceremony on Saturday included a tour of the tombs and an exhibition of the artefacts found within.

The walls of the tombs were decorated with vibrantly colourful scenes that archaeologists said were markedly well-preserved for their age.

The televised tour was conducted by Mostafa Waziri, one of the country’s top Egyptologists and secretary general of its Supreme Council of Antiquities.

One of the tombs belonged to a prominent official from the sixth dynasty of ancient Egypt named Iry, said Mr Waziri. It included a limestone sarcophagus and colourful depictions of the afterlife on its walls.

All the tombs date back to the Old Kingdom (2649—2130BC) and the First Intermediate Period (2181—2055BC), said the antiquities ministry.

Found within the tombs, which are near the Pyramid of Merenre, one of the oldest relics in the archaeological hotspot that is Saqqara, were large coffins, some made of stone and others made of wood.

Mr Waziri also displayed several small wooden statues and some pottery pieces during his televised tour.

The unveiling ceremony was open to tourists, many of whom were in attendance during Mr Waziri's demonstration.

The excavations that uncovered the five new tombs began with an Egyptian archaeological mission in 2021, said Mr Waziri. The oldest of the tombs dates back more than 4,000 years.

Saqqara is one of the most prolific archaeological areas in Egypt where a number of important Old Kingdom relics such as the Step Pyramid of Djoser and the Imhotep Museum.

Wooden statues found inside the tomb of Pepi Nefhany who was the supervisor of the great house, at the Saqqara area, in Giza. Mahmoud Nasr / The National

In 2020, the antiquities ministry unveiled a cache of more than 50 wooden sarcophagi that became the focus of a Netflix documentary titled Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb.

The area has undergone infrastructural improvements in recent months before the opening of the nearby Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM). The GEM’s inauguration was slated for November of last year but postponed because of coronavirus.

Saqqara is one of the most prolific archaeological areas in Egypt where important Old Kingdom relics such as the Step Pyramid of Djoser and the Imhotep Museum are found.

Updated: April 19, 2022, 3:47 PM
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