New tomb discovered at Saqqara

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A stone wall with a classic image of a standing man wearing a kilt and holding a long staff. Above him are hieroglyphs with remnants of black paint visible.
A section of the wall decoration containing the cartouche of Shepseskaf

This month, the Ministry of State for Antiquities Affairs in Egypt announced the discovery of a new tomb at Saqqara by the Czech mission.


The tomb belonged to a 5th Dynasty official called Shepseskaf Ankh, Head of the Physicians of Upper and Lower Egypt (a grand title, indeed!).


The picture on the right is taken from the press release (link below), onto which I've added an explanation of the hieroglyphs making up the name. The cartouche with Shepseskaf's name can be seen in the centre of the photo (with the ankh sign to its right), just above the image of the tomb owner, who's depicted in the classic stance of officials, holding a staff.


The tomb is of considerable size, and, as you can see, some of the original paintwork on the carvings has survived over the millennia.


The press release reads as follows:

Through its excavations in Abusir archaeological Cemetry at Giza, the Czech mission discovered the tomb of Shepseskaf ‘ankh, Head of the Physicians of Upper and Lower Egypt who dates to the Fifth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom. This is the third tomb of a physician to be discovered in Abusir Cemetry. The importance of this tomb lies in the importance of its owner who is one of the most distinguished physicians of the Pyramids builders Era who were in close relation with the kings as Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim clarifies.


Ali ALasfar, vice head of the Ancient Egyptian Sector said that the tomb is among the “huge” tombs for its lengths are 21x14 m. and height of 4m. The walls were constructed from limestone. A huge false door inside the offerings’ chapel was discovered in the eastern part of the tomb and it carries the names and titles of the tomb owner like “Priest of Re in the Temples of the Sun”, “Priest of Khnum” and “Priest of Magic” in addition to other titles that show the high social and official status that he obtained inside the kingdom as one of the most important royal physicians in Ancient Egypt.


The Director of the mission, Miroslav Barta, stated that the individuals tombs in Abusir were constructed starting from the mid 5th Dynasty and many priests and officials who worked in the Pyramid complex of the 5th Dynasty Kings of Abusir and the Sun Temples were buried there.

You can read the press release in full here (in pdf format); I would recommend having a look if you can, as there's a couple more photos, including one of a rather impressive false door.


This is exciting news, and I'm looking forward to hearing more about the tomb. And it's proof that there's still great things sitting under the sand in Egypt, waiting to be rediscovered.

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