Egypt unveils ancient sarcophagus of Ramses II-era ‘royal secretary’

Saqqara has been the site of a wave of excavations in recent years, a key part of Egypt’s attempts to revive its tourism industry

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Egypt on Monday unveiled a sarcophagus of a senior royal official from more than 3,200 years ago at the Saqqara archaeological site south of Cairo, the latest in a series of spectacular discoveries in the region.

A team of Egyptian archaeologists from Cairo University have discovered the red granite sarcophagus of Ptah-em-uya, “a high official” under Ramses II, who ruled Egypt in the 13th century BC. , said the Ministry of Antiquities.

The nobleman was “royal secretary, chief overseer of livestock, head of the treasury of the Ramasseum”, the mortuary temple of Ramses in the Theban necropolis of Luxor, said Mostafa Waziri, head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.

The official was also “responsible for divine offerings to all the gods of Upper and Lower Egypt”, Waziri added.

The tomb of Ptah-em-uya was discovered last year.

Saqqara is a sprawling necropolis in the ancient Egyptian capital Memphis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site home to more than a dozen pyramids, animal burial sites and ancient Coptic Christian monasteries.

The ongoing excavation campaign has revealed the granite sarcophagus, “covered with texts” to “save the dead” and “with scenes representing the sons of the god Horus”, according to the Ministry of Antiquities.

Saqqara has been the site of a wave of excavations in recent years.

More recently, Egypt unveiled a cache of 150 bronze statuettes in May, five ancient tombs in March and more than 50 wooden sarcophagi last year dating from the New Kingdom, which ended in the 11th century BC.

Critics say the excavations have prioritized finds that attract media attention over thorough academic research.

But the finds have been a key part of Egypt’s attempts to revive its vital tourism industry, the crown jewel of which is the long-delayed inauguration of the Grand Egyptian Museum at the foot of the pyramids.

Nicknamed “the largest archaeological museum in the world” by the authorities, it should open its doors this year.

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