Two rock-hewn painted tombs considered as two of the most distinguished tombs ever found from the Old Kingdom were discovered last week at Saqqara necropolis.
Cultural Minister, Mr. Farouk Hosni, announced today that the tombs were found during a routine excavation carried out by an Egyptian mission at an area called “Gisr El-Mudir” located to the west of the Step Pyramid of Djoser. The team has been working in the area since 1968.
Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), who is also the leader of the excavation mission said that the tombs belong to a father, Shendwa, and his son, Khonsu. The father’s tomb consists of a painted false door depicting scenes of the deceased seated before an offering table. The door also bears the different titles of the tomb’s owner who was a top governmental official during the Sixth Dynasty (2374-2191 BC). He was the head of the royal scribes and the supervisor of the missions as well as other honorary titles.
The tomb’s burial shaft is located directly beneath the false door, 20 meters below the ground level. When Dr. Hawass descended into the tomb he realized that it was intact and had not previously been plundered by tomb robbers. Unfortunately Shendwas’s wooden sarcophagus had disintegrated due to humidity and erosion. Beside the sarcophagus, a collection of limestone jars was found including five offering vessels carved in the shape of a duck. Upon opening the vessels, Dr. Hawass discovered that the bones of the ducks were still intact.
Inside the burial shaft a painted relief and a 30 cm tall obelisk made of limestone were also discovered. “This obelisk is a symbol of worshiping the sun god Re,” said Hawass pointing out that the ancient Egyptians of the Old Kingdom used to erect small obelisks in front of their tombs and inside the temples related to the tombs of the Queens’ pyramids.
Next to the father’s tomb, excavators discovered Shendwa’s son Khonsu. It is a beautifully painted tomb with a false door bearing Khonsu’s different titles. It appears that Khonsu inherited the same titles as his father. Excavators located an offering table just opposite to the false door as well as a stone lintel on the floor. Hawass said that the lintel is engraved with symbols that belong to the Sixth Dynasty. On top of the false door, is a small lintel depicting a colored relief of the deceased in different poses.