Egypt unveils discovery of 4,300-year-old tombs

Jul 08, 2010 By MAGGIE MICHAEL , Associated Press Writer
The false door of the unearthed tomb of Shendwas, father of Khonsu who both served as heads of the royal scribes during the Old Kingdom, is decorated with a painting depicting the owner sitting at a sacrifice table, in Saqqara near Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, July 8, 2010. Egyptian archaeologists have unveiled their latest discovery _ two 4,300-year-old tombs carved out of stone and unearthed in the ancient necropolis of Saqqara near Cairo. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

Egyptian archaeologists on Thursday unveiled a newly-unearthed double tomb with vivid wall paintings in the ancient necropolis of Saqqara near Cairo, saying it could be the start for uncovering a vast cemetery in the area.

The tomb includes two false doors with colorful paintings depicting the two people buried there, a father and a son who served as heads of the royal scribes, said Abdel-Hakim Karar, a top archaeologist at Saqqara.

"The colors of the false door are fresh as if it was painted yesterday," Karar told reporters.

Humidity had destroyed the of the father, Shendwas, while the tomb of the son, Khonsu, was robbed in antiquity, he said.

Also insribed on the father's false door was the name of Pepi II, whose 90-year reign is believed to be the longest of the pharaohs. The inscription dates the double tomb to the 6th dynasty, which marked the beginning of the decline of the Old Kingdom, also known as the age of pyramids.

Egypt's antiquities chief, Zahi Hawass, said the new finds were "the most distinguished tombs ever found from the Old Kingdom," because of their "amazing colors." He said the area, if excavated, could unveil the largest cemetery of .

The paintings on the false doors identified Shendwas and Khonsu as royal scribes and "supervisors of the mission," meaning they were in charge of delegations overseeing the supply of materials used for construction.

A single shaft from the surface led down to the father's tomb, from which a side passage led to that of the son, with the false door with paintings of Khonsu in front of an offering table.

Hawass pointed to a handful of duck-shaped artifacts and a small obelisk made of limestone. Such obelisks were often buried with the dead in the 5th and 6th dynasties to show their veneration for the sun god, Ra. "These artifacts were found at the end of the burial shaft, at 18 meters (yards) depth, but we covered it up," Hawass told reporters.

Karar said that so far six tombs dating back to the end of the Old Kingdom have been unearthed since digging in the area three began three years ago. Work started on the double tomb five weeks ago.

The tombs lie just west of Saqqara's most famed pyramid, the Step Pyramid of King Djoser, which is surrounded by a large burial ground, contain from Egypt's earliest history up through Roman times.

Explore further: New hadrosaur noses into spotlight

4.9 /5 (11 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Egypt finds evidence of unfinished ancient tomb

Jun 30, 2010

(AP) -- Egyptian archaeologists who have completed excavations on an unfinished ancient tunnel believe it was meant to connect a 3,300-year-old pharaoh's tomb with a secret burial site, the antiquities department ...

Door to afterlife from ancient Egyptian tomb found

Mar 29, 2010

(AP) -- Archaeologists have unearthed a 3,500-year-old door to the afterlife from the tomb of a high-ranking Egyptian official near Karnak temple in Luxor, the Egyptian antiquities authority said Monday.

57 ancient tombs with mummies unearthed in Egypt

May 23, 2010

(AP) -- Archeologists have unearthed 57 ancient Egyptian tombs, most of which hold an ornately painted wooden sarcophagus with a mummy inside, Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities said Sunday.

Egypt unveils pharaonic 'brain drain' bed

Mar 19, 2009

Egyptian antiquities authorities on Thursday revealed an ancient pharaonic embalming bed unearthed from a mysterious tomb near Luxor used to prepare bodies for mummification more than 3,000 years ago.

Recommended for you

New hadrosaur noses into spotlight

Sep 19, 2014

Call it the Jimmy Durante of dinosaurs – a newly discovered hadrosaur with a truly distinctive nasal profile. The new dinosaur, named Rhinorex condrupus by paleontologists from North Carolina State Univer ...

Militants threaten ancient sites in Iraq, Syria

Sep 19, 2014

For more than 5,000 years, numerous civilizations have left their mark on upper Mesopotamia—from Assyrians and Akkadians to Babylonians and Romans. Their ancient, buried cities, palaces and temples packed ...

New branch added to European family tree

Sep 17, 2014

The setting: Europe, about 7,500 years ago. Agriculture was sweeping in from the Near East, bringing early farmers into contact with hunter-gatherers who had already been living in Europe for tens of thousands ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

cmn
not rated yet Jul 08, 2010
Amazing, the colors...