The Extraordinary Tomb Of An Egyptian Priest

Ancient Egypt was a civilization of incredible riches, unsurpassed artistry, and beautiful culture. Thousands of years ago, they were able to build structures with such originality, imagination, and expertise, that we are still impressed by them today. But not many discoveries come so close to perfection as the one made recently in the necropolis of Saqqara. The archeologist could hardly believe this was a tomb from 4,000 years ago.

The Buried Treasures

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Image Credit: Unsplash

Ancient Egypt is one old civilization. The empire first appeared more than 5,000 years ago and has made its mark on the whole world for millennia to come. Egypt was the land of the pharaohs, pyramids, sphinxes, religious rites, and revolutionary knowledge, and there is a lot to be discovered about it. Archeologists have always been fascinated by the potential of the country, but one problem was severely hindering their excavations.

Tomb Raiders

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images

Tomb raiders are not just a thing of the movies. They are more than real. What’s more, they did not simply appear in modernity but have been looting tombs since they were being built. After all, the exquisite burial rites of the Ancient Egyptians meant there was a lot of treasure buried along with the wealthy deceased. In the search for gold and precious objects, historically important tombs were destroyed. But one seemed to have been perfectly preserved.

The Untouched One

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Image Credit: Getty Images

Could it be that the archaeologists would finally get lucky and uncover a tomb which was not previously looted? It seemed like that might be the case. An archeological dig was being conducted in a sacred burial ground south of Cairo when the diggers struck gold. It was a find for the books.

Saqqara Marks The Spot

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Image Credit: Getty Images

The dig took place in Saqqara, a place that served as a vast necropolis for the ancient city of Memphis. Memphis was the capital of Ancient Egypt during the Old Kingdom, so needless to say, only the most important people were buried near it. Saqqara was home to many tombs of importance, and archeologists knew that digging there would bring them an unprecedented understanding of the royal life and death in Ancient Egypt. But there was a lot of area to dig through.

Digging For History

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Image Credit: Getty Images

Saqqara has a 3,000 years old history, and its land extends for miles. Finding hidden tombs there is no easy task, and archeologists are having quite a hard time striking the right spot. Ancient Egyptians didn’t want these tombs to be found, and they made sure they remained out of sight. But once the diggers discover an entryway, magic happens. 

A Find Like No Other

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images

Digging in Saqqara proved to be quite the success for archeologists, despite the many challenges they faced. However, as with most tombs, the burial chambers here too were mostly looted. But one day, a tomb of special importance was found. It seemed to have been completely sealed and untouched.

A Tomb Of Importance

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Image Credit: Getty Images

Archeologists immediately flocked inside the newly discovered tomb to excavate it. What they found was a 33 feet by 10 feet rectangular gallery, which was about 10 feet tall. What shocked everyone was how incredibly colorful it was. It was covered in painted reliefs, sculptures, hieroglyphs, and all of them were perfectly preserved. It almost didn’t feel real. 

Grave Mystery

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Image Credit: Getty Images

Because of the magnificently decorated interior of the tomb, the archeologists concluded it must have belonged to someone very important. The fact that this person was buried in the holy place of Saqqara, only reserved for the highest-ranking Egyptians of the time, combined with the painstakingly beautiful decorations of the tomb, meant they found someone very high up the social ladder. The mystery was deepening.

Vast Complex

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Image Credit: Getty Images

The first gallery in the tomb was simply an entryway to what the archeologists later found to be a vast complex of shafts. A total of five shafts were excavated below the tomb gallery. It was clear that one of the shafts must contain the sarcophagus of the person who this tomb was built for and dedicated to. But who was the mysterious owner?

The Owner Of The Tomb

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Image Credit: Getty Images

As the archaeologists continued the dig, they discovered interesting artwork above one of the shafts. It was a relief depicting a certain man named Wahtye, along with his wife- Weret Ptah, and his mother- Merit Meen. Could this have been the man whose final resting place this was? The contents of the shaft would hold the answers.

The Extraordinary Detail

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Image Credit: Getty Images

The shaft the archaeologists believed to be the main burial place of the tomb was extraordinarily decorated. On its walls, scenes from everyday life, hunting, offerings, and product manufacturing were depicted. Large statues of family members fitted into 18 niches on the wall, while 26 smaller niches featured an unidentified person in various positions. Then the mystery of the owner of the tomb was solved.

Who Was Wahtye?

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Image Credit: Getty Images

Archeologists concluded that the tomb was built for a certain high-ranking priest of the Old Kingdom’s fifth dynasty. His name was Wahtye, and he served King Neferirkare some 4,400 years ago. Upon his death, he was laid to rest in one of the most prestigious burial grounds in the whole empire. And his tomb proved to be a true treasure trove.

The Archeological Treasure

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Image Credit: Getty Images

Although it has been almost 4,400 years since Wahtye was buried in his meticulously designed and decorated tomb, it seems as if the burial only took place a few decades ago. The various colors are pristine and perfectly preserved, and the burial treasures have never been looted. The extraordinary vibrancy of the tomb is no surprise, though. The Ancient Egyptians had special ways of obtaining the best pigments.

The Extraordinary Color

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Image Credit: Getty Images

Ancient Egypt prided itself on its artistry and craftsmanship. They used vibrant colors like no one else. The Ancient Egyptians used skilled miners to dig for minerals such as copper, bronze, silver, or lead, and they used those minerals for extensive trades with other civilizations who could offer pigment. They had all the color in the world, and they knew exactly how to use it.

Painting For The Afterlife

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images

The Ancient Egyptians took their burials seriously and spared no expense when sending off someone to the afterworld. Their tombs are some of the most ingeniously constructed structures to this day, but what hides inside them is even more impressive. The vibrancy is what makes those burial grounds so unique. They reveal to us the culture of craft and art, and that is sometimes a bigger treasure than anything else.

The uncovered tomb of the high priest Wahtye was a real revelation to archeologists and the public. Revealing to us the true colors of life and death in Ancient Egypt, the tomb pointed to the importance of art in ancient life. It is a genuinely fascinating discovery and one that still has many secrets to share with us. 

Sources: Egypt MonumentsAncientDWTour EgyptAncient EgyptNational GeographicEgypt TodayLive ScienceScience AlertThe IndependentHistoryNBC NewsWeb ExhibitsAncient Origins

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