Egyptian archaeologists discover tomb of ancient priest dating back over 4,400 years
Archaeologists in Egypt have uncovered the tomb of a priest dating back more than 4,400 years in the pyramid complex of Saqqara south of the capital Cairo, authorities said today.
"Today we are announcing the last discovery of the year 2018, it's a new discovery, it's a private tomb," Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Enany told reporters.
"It is exceptionally well-preserved, coloured, with sculpture inside. It belongs to a high official priest… (and) is more than 4,400 years old," he said.
The tomb belongs to "Wahtye", a high priest who served during the fifth dynasty reign of King Neferirkare, the antiquities ministry said.
His tomb is decorated with scenes showing the royal priest alongside his mother, wife and other members of his family, the ministry said in a statement.
It also contains more than a dozen niches and 24 colourful statues of the cleric and members of his family, it said.
In November, archaeology officials announced the discovery in Saqqara of seven sarcophagi - some dating back more than 6,000 years - during excavation work started in April by the same archaeological mission.
Three of those tombs contained mummified cats and scarabs.
The Saqqara necropolis south of Cairo is home to the famous Djoser pyramid, a more than 4,600-year-old construction which dominates the site and was Egypt's first stone monument.
The tomb, built by the master architect Imhotep for the Pharoah Djoser, stood 62 metres tall originally and is considered the oldest building in the world built entirely of stone.
Authorities in Egypt hope new archaeological finds will help revive the country's struggling tourism industry, which has suffered due to the turmoil that followed the toppling of former dictator Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
According to official data, Egypt received 8.3 million visitors in 2017, a figure dwarfed by the 2010 pre-revolution figure of 14.7 million.