Dr. Mamdouh El Damaty, Minister of Antiquities, announced the discovery of two tombs in the site of Tabbet El Geish, in south Saqqara. The discovery was made by the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology (IFAO) in collaboration with the Ministry of Antiquities. The tombs still contained remains of the skeletons of their owners, priest “Ankhti” and priest “Sabi”, who both lived during the reign of Pepy II (2240- 2150 BC) of the 6th Dynasty.
Dr. El Damaty added that the tombs present several scenes depicting the typical 6th Dynasty ritual to make offerings to the gods. The colourful paintings are well preserved although approximately 4,200 years have passed since the construction of the tombs. These depictions provide archaeologists with new insight into the religious traditions of the 6th Dynasty and highlight the creative genius of the Ancient Egyptians.
When the archaeological team entered the burial rooms, the owners’ skeletons were found on the ground, suggesting that the tombs may have been tampered with in ancient times. Egyptologists think that they may have been exposed to looting and theft during the 7th and 8th Dynasties. Despite this likely possibility, a number of artefacts were found near the owners’ remains, including funerary objects, small alabaster jars, offering samples made of limestone, as well as pottery.
Dr. Vassil Dobrev, head of the IFAO archaeological mission in Tabbet El Geish, said that the upper part of the tombs was built with raw mud bricks, while the burial rooms were cut into the white limestone bedrock. The team was able to reveal the burial chamber of priest “Sabi” at a depth of 6 metres while the burial chamber of priest "Ankhti" at 12 metres.
The scenes painted in the burial chamber of “Ankhti” show several offerings, the most important of which are the large jars with the seven sacred oils, believed to be essential for the completion of the Opening of the Mouth Ritual. On the left wall appears a list of names and quantities of traditional offerings, a false door, and depictions of meat, birds, bread, vegetables, jars of milk, barley syrup and other liquids. The burial chamber of “Sabi” presents similar paintings.
Sources: Supreme Council of Antiquities, Luxor Times