Khaled Al-Anani, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, said: “It is exceptionally well preserved, coloured, with sculpture inside. It belongs to a high official priest…and is more than 4,400 years old.”
According to Mostafa Waziri, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, archaeologists discovered the tomb in a buried ridge at the prehistoric necropolis of Saqqara, intact and unplunged upon the discovery. Saqqara was the cemetery of Memphis, ancient Egyptian capital for more than 2,000 years.
The tomb was of Wahtye, a high-ranking priest serving under King Neferirkare Kakai during the Fifth Dynasty of Egypt. It is 10 m long, 3 m wide and under 3 m high, said Waziri. Hieroglyphs and statues of pharaohs are found on the walls, and Waziri said that the statues and its almost perfect condition contributed to the tomb’s uniqueness.
Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Enani at a news conference at the site of discovery
“The colour is almost intact even though the tomb is almost 4,400 years old,” he said. Waziri also revealed that a last layer of debris was removed, allowing archaeologists to discover 5 shafts within, one of which was unsealed with nothing inside, while the other 4 were sealed.
Archaeologists are hoping to find more information when they carry out excavations on those shafts. “I can imagine that all of the objects can be found in this area,” Waziri said, pointing at one of the sealed shafts. “This shaft should lead to a coffin or a sarcophagus of the owner of the tomb.”
View of newly discovered Egyptian tomb belonging to high priest ‘Wahtye’
Previously, archaeologists declared that they had found 7 sarcophagi in Saqqara, some of which were from 6 millennia ago, during excavation process beginning 7 months before within the same archaeological mission. 3 of the crypts contained embalmed cats and scarabs.
The deceased’s bodies are often mummified in ancient Egypt, to prepare for their afterlife, while animals are embalmed for religious offering purposes. The famous Djoser pyramid is also located at the Saqqara pyramid, being a 4,600-year-old structure that stands out from any other found at the site.
The frieze on the wall of the Egyptian tomb depicting livestock
The Djoser pyramid is also Egypt’s earliest stone construction, erected by the legendary architect Imhotep for King Djoser. It stands 62 m tall, believed to be the earliest construction in the world that was completely made out of stone.
Meanwhile, Egyptian archaeologists have announced several new findings this year. The country expects that the discovery of the 4,000-year-old tomb will polish its international image and refresh the attraction towards tourists who once flocked to its iconic pharaonic temples and pyramids, yet fled after the 2011 political uprising.