Egypt opens a 4000-year old tomb to the public for the first time since 1940

Egypt, on Saturday, opened a 4000-year old tomb to the public in the Saqqara necropolis near Giza for the first time since its discovery almost 80 years ago. The tomb, unearthed in 1940 by Egyptologist Zaki Saad, belongs to an ancient Egypt high-ranking official named Mehu who was related to the first king of the 6th dynasty.

“It is a beautiful tomb, and it was discovered in 1940. We are making sure to constantly present cultural content for tourists. This is why we open tombs for visitors and in the past two or three years, we opened a large number of museums such as Sohag’s museum after 30 years of works. Today we opened this previously discovered tomb to invite ambassadors and show the media that Egypt is safe,” said Egyptian Minister of Antiquities, Khaled El Anany according to Africanews.

The tomb included two chambers both with colorful, well-preserved wall inscriptions of the owner of the tomb hunting as well as drawings showing aspects of Ancient Egyptian lives such as hunting and acrobatic dancing. Mehu lived during the reign of King Pepi and held 48 titles, found inscribed on the walls of his chamber.  

According to a press statement from the Ministry of Antiquities, the tomb also contains a long narrow corridor with six burial chambers, with rooms for Mehu’s son, Mery Re Ankh and grandson, Hetep Ka II.

“He was a vizier, the chief of judges and the director of the palace at the time of the King Titi, the first king of the 6th dynasty,” said Egytpian Archaeologist and Egyptology, Zahi Hawass.

The tomb is “one of the most beautiful and complete tombs from the Old Kingdom within Saqqara”, according to Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mostafa Waziri. In its artwork, Waziri described scenes of fishing, harvesting and dancing not seen in Saqqara tombs before the Sixth Dynasty.

Tourists can now visit the tomb in the Saqqara region. Photo: AFP

One of the walls’ “most important scenes” depicts Mehu catching birds in the jungle, and hunting fish with a bayonet. According to Waziri, such images reveal the influence of the tomb owner, who was careful to engrave them in the first few chambers closest to visitors.

Visitors to Egypt’s ancient archeological site that is home to the Great Pyramids and the Great Sphinx now have a new attraction to feast their eyes on. Images on social media showed visitors queueing to enter and taking photographs of the interior.

The colours inside are different to many other tombs in the necropolis as the brightness of them is somewhat unusual. Many of the paintings inside are unique to the time period, with images of a crocodile marrying a turtle and celebration dances depicted on the walls.

Archaeologists have so far this year excavated a number of relics that include a 4,400-year-old tomb of an ancient priestess at the Giza plateau and an ancient necropolis in Minya, south of Cairo.

Government officials hope these discoveries will boost tourism for travelers who once flocked to its iconic pharaonic temples and pyramids, but have shunned the country since its political upheaval in 2011 and the downing of a Russian plane in 2015.

A museum is currently under construction in Giza and will feature many precious artefacts, including some belonging to the legendary king Tutankhamun. The first phase of Grand Egyptian museum is expected to be opened later this year while the grand opening is planned for 2022.