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4,400-year-old tomb buried under sand in Egypt found again 160 years after it was first discovered

The tomb was partially discovered nearly 160 years ago by French archaeologist Auguste Mariette before the sands of the Western Desert covered it again.

4,400-year-old tomb buried under sand in Egypt found again 160 years after it was first discovered
Cover Image Source: Facebook/ Czech Institute of Egyptology

Historical remains are a great way to have a glimpse into the past life and culture. Egyptian culture was filled with grandeur and there is a lot of intrigue regarding its past since its traditions were built in such a way that its legacy could be carried forward for many years. Recently, a team of Czech archaeologists rediscovered a tomb belonging to an ancient Egyptian high official called Ptahshepses, as reported by IFL Science. The official lived around 4,400 years ago and now is present in a mummy form.



According to the British Museum, Ptahshepses was an important figure of his time. He was married to Khamaat, who was a royal and is said to be the daughter of Shepseskaf. As an official, he contributed to the reigns of four kings. The last king that he served was Nyuserre of the Fifth Dynasty. The art and build of the tomb reflect a lot about those times and the official's contributions. In the tomb, there are attestations of the god Osiris. This implies that it was Ptahshepses and his influence that brought the god of the Egyptian afterlife into the Egyptian pantheon. Czech Institute of Egyptology announced on Facebook that the tomb was found in the zone that is situated between Abusir and Saqqara, Egypt.



The Researchers did not stumble on the tomb and had actually been looking for it for many years. Miroslav Barta, head of research at Abusir explained the means that were undertaken to achieve this discovery, “Detailed satellite imagery of the area and the study of old maps led to the rediscovery of the tomb of Ptahshepses in 2022.” The site was first discovered by a French scholar named Auguste Mariette, some 160 years ago. On finding it, Mariette soon began to excavate and reached for Ptahshepses’s false door. False doors are a concept in Egyptian culture, where it is believed that this structure could be utilized by spirits to enter and exit the tomb. There is also a lintel that is found above the chapel. Mariette could not find the tomb as it was buried under the sand.



The artifacts that Mariette collected are now on display at the British Museum. The door gives an extensive description of Ptahshepses’s career and his legacy. It gives people an idea of how he went from being educated at the court of the last Giza ruler – Menkaure (Greek "Mykerinos") to being a highly ranked official, married to a royal. The institute believes that the tomb will aid in extensively understanding the architecture of that period, “It also represents a highly important missing link between the relatively small mastabas with a single cult chapel and extensive family tombs such as the neighboring tomb of Ty constructed roughly at the same time.”


In 2022, after locating the site, excavation was done which revealed an extensive 42 meters (137.7 feet) long and 22 meters (72 feet) wide superstructure of the mastaba (a rectangular structure of Egyptian tombs). There was a chapel with decorations, statues, and corridors. A year later, a team entered the burial chamber. The chamber consisted of a huge limestone-blocking stone. It was clear that the place had been robbed, but some equipments remained in place. The site also had a mummified fish, which had never been seen in any tomb before. The mummy was lying in a partially opened sarcophagus. The scientific examination of the remains gives new insights into mummification and the way it was handled in the Old Kingdom period.

Barta is proud of the team and believes that the tomb would have a long-term impact, “The tomb of a man who changed the course of Egyptian history has thus been rediscovered, representing one of the expedition's greatest recent discoveries. The research is still ongoing and further discoveries will likely be made to shed new light on his family and times."

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