Egypt has uncovered a sarcophagus of a senior royal official from more than 3,200 years ago at the archaeological site of Saqqara south of Cairo, the latest in a series of spectacular discoveries in the area.
A team of Egyptian archaeologists from Cairo University discovered the red granite sarcophagus of Ptah-em-uya, a “high-ranking official” under Rameses II, who ruled Egypt in the 13th century BC, the antiquities ministry said.
The ministry posted an image of the sarcophagus on Instagram.
The gentleman was “royal secretary, chief overseer of cattle, head of the treasury of the Ramasseum,” the funerary temple of Rameses in the Theban necropolis at Luxor, said Mostafa Waziri, head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.
The official “was also responsible for the divine offerings to the gods of Upper and Lower Egypt”, said Waziri.
Dr. Ola Al-Ajezi, head of the archaeological team, said that studies showed that the lid of the sarcophagus was broken, “which indicates that the cemetery was previously opened for burial, and that it was exposed to theft.”
The tomb of Ptah-em-uya was found last year.
The revelation comes just a day after Israeli archaeologists announced aof a burial cave which was also from the time of Rameses II, filled with many pieces of pottery and bronze artefacts.
Saqqara is a huge necropolis of the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis, a UNESCO world heritage site containing more than a dozen pyramids, animal burial sites and ancient Coptic Christian monasteries.
The current excavation season revealed the granite sarcophagus, “covered in texts” to “protect the deceased” and “scenes representing the son of the god Horus,” according to the ministry of antiquities.
Saqqara has been the site of a large number of excavations in recent years.
Recently, Egypt revealed a hoard of 150 bronze statues in May,and more than 50 wooden sarcophagi last year dating back to the New Kingdom, which ended in the 11th century BC.
Critics say the excavations prioritized discoveries that were shown to draw media attention to hard academic research.
But the discoveries were central to Egypt’s efforts to revive its vital tourism industry, and the crowning achievement is the long-awaited inauguration of the National Museum of Egypt at the base of the pyramids.
Dubbed “the world’s largest archaeological museum” by officials, it is expected to open this year.
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