Egypt on Monday unveiled a sarcophagus of a senior royal official from more than 3,200 years ago at the Saqqara archaeological site south of Cairo, the latest in a series of spectacular discoveries in the area.
A team of Egyptian archaeologists from Cairo University found the red granite sarcophagus of Ptah-em-uya, “a high official” under Rameses II, who ruled Egypt in the 13th century BC, the Ministry of Antiquities said.
The ministry posted an image of the sarcophagus on Instagram.
The noble was “royal secretary, chief overseer of livestock, head of the treasury of the Ramasseum,” said Rameses’ funerary temple in the Theban necropolis at Luxor, said Mostafa Waziri, head of Egypt’s High Council of Antiquities.
The official was also “responsible for the divine offerings to all the gods of Upper and Lower Egypt,” Waziri added.
dr. Ola Al-Ajezi, chief of the archaeological team, said studies have shown that the sarcophagus’s lid was broken, “indicating that the cemetery had been opened for burial earlier in later times and exposed to theft.”
The grave of Ptah-em-uya was found last year.
The revelation comes just a day after Israeli archaeologists announced thatof a burial cave that also dates from the time of Ramses II, filled with dozens of pottery pieces and bronze objects.
Saqqara is a sprawling necropolis of the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with more than a dozen pyramids, animal cemeteries, and ancient Coptic Christian monasteries.
The current excavation season revealed the granite sarcophagus, “covered with texts” to “protect the dead” and “scenes representing the sons of the god Horus,” according to the Ministry of Antiquities.
Saqqara has been the site of a flurry of excavations in recent years.
Most recently, Egypt unveiled a cache of 150 bronze figurines in May,and last year more than 50 wooden sarcophagi dating back to the New Kingdom, which ended in the 11th century BC.
Critics say the digs have prioritized finds that have been shown to attract media attention over hard academic research.
But the finds have been an important part of Egypt’s efforts to revive its vital tourist industry, the crown jewel being the long-delayed inauguration of the Grand Egyptian Museum at the base of the pyramids.
It has been called “the largest archaeological museum in the world” by officials and is expected to open this year.
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