Beneath Egypt's Big Find: 5 Hidden Shafts

Hope is that one holds a sarcophagus
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 16, 2018 6:40 AM CST
Egypt's 'One-of-a-Kind' Find: Untouched, Unlooted Tomb
Saeed Abdel Aal, an excavation worker stands at the recently uncovered tomb of the Priest royal Purification during the reign of King Nefer Ir-Ka-Re, named "Wahtye", at the site of the step pyramid of Saqqara, in Giza, Egypt, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. T   (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

Egypt on Saturday announced the discovery of a "one-of-a-kind [find] in the last decades": a private tomb belonging to a senior official from the 5th dynasty of the pharaohs, which ruled roughly 4,400 years ago. Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani announced the find at the site of the tomb in Saqqara, just west of Cairo, which is also home to the famed Step Pyramid. One of the things making the find so unique, per Reuters: It hasn't been looted or otherwise touched in all that time. Another thing: the drawings on the 33-foot-by-10-foot tomb's walls are "exceptionally well-preserved," per the AP. Adds NPR: "Particularly striking are their well-preserved colors—light yellows, rich blues, and a reddish-brown skin tone."

The drawings depict the official—a purification priest named Wahtye—and his family, and the tomb also contains a total of 45 statues carved in rock. Again, they depict the Wahtye and his family. And that's potentially not all: Another Egyptian official says five shafts have been found under the tomb, per LiveScience, four of which are sealed. The plan is to now excavate those in hopes of finding a sarcophagus of Wahtye. In recent years, Egypt has heavily promoted new archaeological finds to international media and diplomats in the hope of attracting more tourists to the country. The vital tourism sector has suffered from the years of political turmoil and violence that followed the country's 2011 political uprising. (Still mad about a pyramid climb, Egypt has arrested two people.)

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