Archaeologists Discover an Ancient Royal Egyptian Priest’s Tomb in Almost Perfect Condition—See It Here

The 4,400-year-old tomb, which is being hailed as one of the greatest finds of the decade, could reveal more secrets as excavations continue.

The newly discovered priest's tomb at the Saqqara necropolis. Photo: Khaled Desouki /AFP/Getty Images.

A well-preserved, 4,400-year-old tomb of a royal priest has been newly discovered in Egypt. The incredibly well-preserved tomb, decorated with several painted sections and 24 sculptures, is being called a “one of a kind” discovery. Archaeologists confirmed the extraordinary find on Saturday, December 15.

The tomb is said to belong to a royal priest called “Wahtye” who lived during the Fifth Dynasty from about 2,500 BC to 2,350 BC. He is being referred to by Egyptian authorities as “the royal purification priest.” The crypt, which is about 33 feet long, 10 feet wide and 10 feet high, contains several carved scenes of the ancient religious figure with his mother and wife, as well as statues depicting clergy and other family members.

The site is decorated with detailed hieroglyphics and contains at least a dozen niches, as well as further carved murals depicting “the manufacturing of pottery and wine, making religious offering, musical performances, boats sailing, the manufacturing of the funerary furniture, and hunting,” according to Egypt Today.

Relief sculptures are in near perfect condition. Photo by Khaled Desouki AFP/Getty Images.

Mostafa Waziri, the secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, says that the excavation team has also uncovered five underground shafts in the floor. Waziri expects that they will hold the priest’s sarcophagus, and perhaps also other funerary and personal objects. Archaeologists are expecting more discoveries at the site in the near-future, after the excavation of these shafts begins in January.

The site, which is around 19 miles south of Egypt’s capital city of Cairo, is in the well-known pyramid burial ground complex of Saqqara. But this particular site was hidden in a buried ridge; the Guardian reports that this may have helped protect the tomb, which is in near-perfect condition, from looters.

Wall reliefs portray life in the Fifth Dynasty. Photo by Khaled Desouk AFP/Getty Images.

The remarkable find comes on the heels of several other significant discoveries in Egypt this year, including an ancient female sarcophagus called “Thuya” and a previously unknown sphinx, among others. Tourism has declined in Egypt due to terrorist attacks and political unrest after the Arab Spring of 2011. Authorities are reportedly hoping that a slew of discoveries will boost the nation’s heritage tourism.

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