Saqqara: A pair of 4,300-yearold pharaonic tombs discovered at Saqqara indicate that the sprawling necropolis south of Cairo is even larger than previously thought, Egypt’s top archaeologist said on Monday. The rock-cut tombs were built for high officials — one responsible for the quarries used to build the nearby pyramids and another for a woman in charge of procuring entertainers for the pharaohs.
“We announce today a major, important discovery at Saqqara, the discovery of two new tombs dating back to 4,300 years ago,” said Egypt’s antiquities chief Zahi Hawass. “The discovery of the two tombs are the beginning of a big, large cemetery.”
The discovery indicates that there is even more to the vast necropolis of Saqqara, located 12 miles south of the capital, Cairo, he added.
In the past, excavations have focused on just one side of the two nearby pyramids — the Step Pyramid of King Djoser and that of Unas, the last king of the 5th Dynasty. The area where the two tombs were found, to the southwest, has been largely untouched.
“This means the royal cemetery is bigger than we thought,” said Saleh Suleiman, the archaeologist responsible for the excavation of the two tombs.
Hawass, the head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, said excavations will continue and further finds should shed light on the 5th and 6th dynasties of the Old Kingdom, which ruled over 4,000 years ago.
One of the tombs, about a yard wide and 2.75 yards long, has a description above the entrance about the man, Yaamat, for whom it was built. The second tomb is twice the size and includes inscriptions and an image of a seated woman. AP