The tomb of a former Egyptian official who is said to have been responsible for secret documents at the Royal Chancellery was discovered in the ancient Egyptian necropolis of Saqqara, said the Polish Center for Mediterranean Archeology at the University of Warsaw. A declaration Last week.
Building on an earlier excavation, the team discovered the tomb by digging into a dry moat that encircles the largest step pyramid of Djoser, a complex built for the late pharaoh who ruled from around 2630 BCE to 11 BCE. There, archaeologists discovered the tomb’s decorated entrance facade, including hieroglyphic inscriptions, crude paintings, and a relief depicting the tomb’s owner.
“The dignitary bore the name of Mehtjetju and was, among other things, an official with access to royal sealed, i.e. secret, documents, an inspector of the royal domain and a priest of the mortuary cult of King Teti,” said said expedition director Kamil O. Kuraszkiewicz said in the statement. “This means that he most likely lived during the reigns of the first three rulers of the Sixth Dynasty: Teti, Userkare and Pepy I” (c. 2300 BCE).
The reliefs would have been carved by skilled craftsmen, which Mehtjetju could have afforded given his higher social status. The rock on which it is carved is however brittle and eroded, but has undergone treatments carried out by the curators of the National Museum in Warsaw.
The facade decoration seems incomplete without the inclusion of polychromy. “It is possible that it was never created because the decoration of the chapel was not finished. The side walls of the entrance have no relief decoration, just figures painted in black ink on lime plaster,” Kuraszkiewicz explained. The sketches, which depict sacrificial animals such as cows, antelopes and goats, would have served as a draft for later, more detailed reliefs.
Scholars believe the decoration was left unfinished due to the untimely death of the investor, which resulted in a hastily completed tomb – a relatively common occurrence in ancient Egypt. Since the burial chamber has yet to be explored, it is unknown whether Mehtjetju, his family, and/or possibly other people are buried in the tomb. Archaeologists plan to further explore the interior of the chapel this fall.
The find is the latest of many at the Saqqara necropolis, which earlier this year yielded the remains of five well-preserved 4,000-year-old painted tombs filled with more than 20 sarcophagi, toys, boats wood and masks.