A sealed tomb, believed to be some 6,000-year-old, has been discovered at the ancient Egyptian necropolis of Saqqara. Archeologists also unearthed mummies of cats and scarabs in other newly found burial chambers.
Egyptian archeologists are preparing to open an apparently untouched Fifth Dynasty tomb at the edge of the King Userkaf pyramid complex, south of Cairo, officials said on Saturday.
The necropolis was built between 2,350 and 2,500 years BC, not long after the Great Pyramid of Giza.
The façade and the sealed entrance of the chamber are intact, said Mohamed Youseff, the head of the researchers into the ancient necropolis of Saqqara.
While investigating the area, archeologists also discovered seven other previously unknown tombs with sarcophagi containing dozens of mummies of cats and around 100 wooden cat statues, alongside one in bronze dedicated to cat goddess Bastet. The researchers also found a collection of mummified scarab beetles.
“The scarab is something really unique,” said Mostafa Waziri from Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.
“A couple of days ago, when we discovered those coffins, they were sealed coffins with drawings of scarabs,” he added. “I never heard about them before.”
One of the sarcophagi belonged to Khufu-Imhat, overseer of the buildings in the royal palace, according to Egyptian officials.
Spared by grave robbers
Ancient Egyptians mummified human bodies to preserve them for the afterlife, while also preserving the bodies of pets and wild animals for companionship or protection. Both scarabs and cats were powerful religious symbols in ancient Egyptian religion.
While many wealthy Egyptians were laid to rest in lavish burial chambers throughout the nation’s history, most of the tombs were later raided by grave robbers. This makes pristine tombs, like the one discovered in Saqqara, very rare.
Researchers are set to open the vault in the coming weeks, head of the Saqqara complex Mohamed Youseff said.
The freshly discovered tombs lie in a buried ridge which might offer many more similar discoveries, Egyptian officials said.
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