Wednesday, February 21, 2007

More re recent Saqqara discoveries

Recent discoveries at Saqqara
A good summary of the finds, quoting Maarten Raven, that puts the Amarna period tomb into the context of the history of Saqqara and nearby Memphis: "Maarten Raven, the field director of the Dutch mission which has excavated the tomb over the past two months, said he expected more tombs from the period to turn up in Sakkara, which is most famous for pyramids and tombs from 1,000 years earlier. The nearby city of Memphis remained the de facto capital of Egypt for most of pharaonic history, even when the official capital was at Luxor in the south or in the new city which Akhenaten built at Tell el-Amarna in central Egypt."
See the above address for the rest of this two-page article

Royal Butler Ptahemwia
Click on "What's New" in the left hand navigation bar. The Leiden University team to Saqqara, which discovered the tomb of Ptahemwia, has updated its website at the above address with descriptions of the tomb: "The tomb has the form of a freestanding temple with a gate entrance, an inner court yard with columned porticoes and a shaft to the underground burial chambers, and three chapels next to each other. The rectangular complex (10.5 by 16 metres) borders directly on the forecourt of the tomb of Meryneith. The underground rooms will be investigated in 2008. It has already been established that this tomb was emptied by grave-robbers in the past.The mudbrick walls of the upper structure still stand two metres high. Part of the limestone revetment slabs has been preserved. They show reliefs of the tomb-owner Ptahemwia, his wife Maia, priests, officials, servants and musicians and scenes of daily life. According to the inscriptions in the tomb, Ptahemwia performed the high court function of ‘Royal Butler, Clean of Hands’. In that capacity, he must have been responsible for serving the pharaoh food and drink. The vivid representations of daily life and landscape are characteristic of the art from the time of pharaoh Akhenaten. "
See the above page for full details.

Slideshow of Saqqara tombs
An excellent slideshow of photos from both tombs can be found at the above address, which shows details of both the statues and some of the detailed art work.

Video of Saqqara discoveries;_ylt=AnvAh5qjvyOkuKWXEq3xuquaK8MA
A much better than usual video, from Associated Press, is featured on the above page (linked to on the left hand side), or can be fired up directly from the following link: (
It shows both the statues from the tomb of ka-Hay and the art work from that of Ptahemwia, together with shots of the tombs' exteriors, which I haven't seen before. Zahi Hawass (head of the SCA) and Maarten Raven (excavation director) both describe aspects of the site, including the wooden portal from the tomb of Ka-Hay. Conservation work already underway at the tomb of Ptahemwia is shown.
The video also has footage of the new Middle Kingdom coffins (priest called Sobek Hat and his female companion), which were announced last week. These are well worth looking at.

Another video can be found at
Thanks to Pierre Daoust for this link, which contains some of the same footage as the above site. It requires the most recent download of Windows Media Player to display properly.

The statues from the tomb of Ka-Hai are also covered in French at:
"La tombe est située au nord de la Pyramide de Teti, dans la nécropole de Saqqara, au sud-ouest du Caire.C'est la première fois qu'on découvre en Egypte une statue double en bois, une pièce unique. En général, les statues doubles de l'époque pharaonique sont taillées dans la pierre, a indiqué le directeur du département des antiquités pharaoniques du CSAE, Sabri Abdel Aziz. On a aussi trouvé dans la tombe une fausse porte en bois gravé des différents noms du scribe et de sa femme, et deux atuels pour les offrandes. Les quatre autres statues en bois ont été retrouvées en bon état."
Situated to the north of the pyramid of Teti, the double statue dates back to the end of the Vth dynasty. The characters are said to be Ka-Hai and his wife Spri-Ankh. It is said to be the only wooden double statue ever found in Egypt - they are usually made of stone. A false portal in wood engraved with the names of the scribe and his wife have also been found.
The article says that there are four statues - elsewhere I have seen five mentioned - but apparently the correct figure is three.
Thanks very much to
Thierry Benderitter from for this article.

Finally, if anyone is interested in the contents of the Imhotep Museum at Saqqara, I've put some photos online at

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