26th Dynasty finds in Saqqara


Two large 26th Dynasty tombs have been found in Saqqara by an Egyptian excavation mission from the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA). Dr. Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the SCA and the head of the mission, said that the two newly discovered tombs were found at the Ras El Gisr area at Saqqara, near the entrance point of the archaeological site.

Hawass explained that both tombs are cut into the limestone rock of the hill and the first one is the largest yet found in Saqqara. It is composed of a large rock-hewn hall followed by a number of small rooms and corridors. Outside the tomb on its eastern side are two large walls, the first is made of limestone while the other is of mud brick.

The SCA chief added that during the team also found two rooms covered with dust that led to another hall where a number of coffins, skeletons and pots were found. This hall has a corridor that leads to a smaller room with a seven-meter- deep burial shaft. At the tomb’s northern end the team found a room full of clay pots and fragments along with ancient coffins and mummies of eagles.

Early investigations revealed the tomb dates back to the 26th Dynasty and it was reused several times during its history and was likely robbed at the end of the Roman period. As for the second tomb, Hawass said the team found a number of Saite Period clay pots and coffins scattered inside a sealed limestone room.

Ever since the history of Egypt, Saqqara has a treasure trove of endless archeological finds. It has produced thousands of artifacts, much to the delight of excavation teams, local and international. Just last year, in the surrounding area of the Saqqara pyramid, Hawass’ team also found funerary figurines that date back to the 3rd Intermediate Period (818-712 BC), along with a New Kingdom chapel (ca. 1550 BC) decorated with a scene of the deceased offering to Osiris. Other finds from the area include a group of Late Period (399-343 BC) coffins, a wooden statue of the god Anubis, amulets, and a symbolic vessel in the shape of a cartouche, which still contained the remains of a green substance. These finds demonstrate that the entire area of the Old Kingdom’s Teti cemetery was re-used from the New Kingdom (1550 – 1295 BC) through the Roman Period (30 BC – 364 AD).

Near the newly discovered pyramid, Hawass and his Egyptian team had previously re-discovered the pyramid of Queen Khuit, the wife of King Teti. Scholars had long believed that Khuit was a second wife, but SCA’s important work proved that her pyramid was built before that of Iput I, previously believed to have been Teti’s chief queen. The fact that her pyramid was built before Iput’s, however, tells us that Khuit was in fact the primary royal wife. Previous work at this site, where Hawass has been excavating since he served as director of Giza and Saqqara, has also revealed the funerary temple of Khuit, offering much new information about the decorative programs of queens’ monuments of the period. The archaeologist stated that the discovery of the pyramid of Sesheshet will further enrich our understanding of the pyramids of Dynasty 6 of the Old Kingdom.

There seems to be no end to all the treasures coming out of the Egyptian sands. Hawass keeps saying, they have dug up only 30 percent of the treasures. There’s a lot more buried under the ground, he says.