CAIRO: Egyptian archaeologists have discovered the tomb of a priest dating back more than 4,400 years in the pyramid complex of Saqqara south of Cairo.
The tomb belongs to Wahtye, a high priest who served during the fifth-dynasty reign of King Neferirkare. It is decorated with scenes showing the royal priest alongside his mother, wife and other members of his family.
It also contains more than a dozen niches and 24 statues of the priest and members of his family.
The priest’s tomb “is exceptionally well preserved, colored, with sculpture inside. It belongs to a high official priest,” Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany said.
The tomb was found in a buried ridge at the ancient necropolis of Saqqara. It was untouched and unlooted, said Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. He described the find as “one of a kind in the last decades.”
Archaeologists removed a last layer of debris from the tomb on Thursday and found five shafts inside, Waziri said.
They expect to make more discoveries when they excavate those on Sunday.
“I can imagine that all of the objects can be found in this area,” he said, pointing at one of the shafts. “This should lead to a coffin or a sarcophagus of the owner of the tomb.”
The fifth dynasty ruled Egypt from about 2,500 to 2,350 BC, not long after the great pyramid of Giza was built. Saqqara was the necropolis for Memphis, the capital of ancient Egypt for more than two millennia.