(SAQQARA, Egypt) — Egypt announced on Thursday the discovery of five ancient tombs in Saqqara, marking the latest in a series of discoveries in the vast necropolis south of Cairo.
The stony tombs date back to the Old Kingdom (c.2700–2200 BC) and First Intermediate (c.2181–2055 BC) eras, Egypt’s antiquities ministry said.
They were excavated northeast of the Pyramid of Merenre, a 52.5 meters-tall structure that was built during the Sixth Dynasty. The tombs, which are engraved with colorful shapes, belong to “top officials,” the ministry added.
Mostafa El-Waziri, the head of Egypt’s Supreme Antiquities Council, said the first tomb belongs to an official named IRY.
“The tomb consists of a deep burial shaft leading to a chamber decorated with funerary scenes depicting offering tables, the seven oils and the façade of the palace. A limestone sarcophagus was also uncovered inside the tomb,” he said in a statement.
“The second tomb belongs to a woman that could be the wife of a man named Yaret and it has a rectangular burial shaft while the third tomb belongs to Pepi Nefhany, who was the supervisor of the great house, a priest, and the purifier of the house. It has a six meters deep burial shaft.”
El-Waziri said the fourth, also a six-meter deep burial shaft, belongs to a woman named Petty. She was the priest of Hathor, the goddess of fertility and love.
“The fifth is for a man named Henu, the overseer and the supervisor of the royal house. It consists of a rectangular seven meters deep burial shaft,” El-Waziri added.
“More work and studies will be carried out to reveal more secrets of these tombs,” he said.
Egypt has carried out extensive digging operations in Saqqara in recent years, which resulted in a string of discoveries, including the unearthing of a 4,400-year-old tomb of royal priest Wahtye in 2018 and the discovery of hundreds of mummified animals and statues a year later.
Last year, Egypt unearthed 52 burial shafts in Saqqara with more than 50 wooden coffins found inside. They date back 3,000 years, the oldest sarcophagi found in the ancient burial ground.
They also discovered the funerary temple of Queen Nearit, the wife of King Teti — the first pharaoh of the Sixth Dynasty of Egypt.
Egypt is hoping the discoveries, along with the expected opening of a new mega museum near the Giza Pyramids later this year, will revive its vital tourism industry.
Tourism was badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the last couple of years and could take a fresh battering because of Russia’s attempted invasion of Ukraine, with citizens of both countries comprising a big chunk of visitors to Egypt.
Up to 20,000 Ukrainians were stranded in Egypt’s Red Sea resorts when Russia started its offensive against Ukraine on Feb. 24, according to the Ukrainian embassy in Egypt.
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