Egypt Displays Recently Discovered Ancient Tombs in Saqqara, and Expects to Find More

Five tombs unearthed earlier this month date back more than four millennia, and were used for senior officials in ancient Egypt

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A tomb decorated with hieroglyphic inscriptions and images of sacred animals at a recently discovered tomb near the famed Step Pyramid, in Saqqara, south of Cairo, Egypt, on Saturday.
A tomb decorated with hieroglyphic inscriptions and images of sacred animals at a recently discovered tomb near the famed Step Pyramid, in Saqqara, south of Cairo, Egypt, on Saturday.Credit: Sayed Hassan/AP

Egypt on Saturday displayed recently discovered, well-decorated ancient tombs at a Pharaonic necropolis just outside the capital Cairo.

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The five tombs were unearthed earlier this month and date back to the Old Kingdom — a period spanning roughly from around 2700 BC to 2200 B.C., as well as to the First Intermediate Period, which lasted for over a century after the Old Kingdom collapsed, according to the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said Egyptian archeologists started excavating the site in September. The tombs, he said, were for senior officials including regional rulers and palace supervisors in ancient Egypt.

“All of those five tombs are well-painted, well-decorated. Excavations did not stop. We are planning to continue our excavations. We believe that we can find more tombs in this area,” he told reporters at the site.

The area where five ancient Pharaonic tombs were recently discovered at the Saqqara archaeological site, south of Cairo, on SaturdayCredit: Khaled DESOUKI / AFP

The tombs were found near the Step Pyramid of Djoser, in the Saqqara Necropolis, 24 kilometers (15 miles) southwest of Cairo.

Footage shared on the ministry’s social media pages showed burial shafts leading to the tombs. Walls were seen decorated with hieroglyphic inscriptions and images of sacred animals and after-life items used by ancient Egyptians.

The Saqqara site is part of a sprawling necropolis at Egypt’s ancient capital of Memphis that includes the famed Giza Pyramids as well as smaller pyramids at Abu Sir, Dahshur and Abu Ruwaysh. The ruins of Memphis were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1970s.

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.

An archaeologist holds a torch lamp against a wall covered in hieroglyphic etchings inside one of the five ancient Pharaonic tombs recently discovered at Saqqara, on Saturday.Credit: Khaled DESOUKI / AFP

The vital tourism sector, a major source of foreign currency for Egypt, suffered from years of political turmoil and violence that followed a 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

The sector has recently started to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, but was hit again by the effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Along with Russia, Ukraine is a major source of tourists visiting the Middle Eastern nation.

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