A group of archaeologists have uncovered the tomb of an ancient Egyptian general at a site south of Giza, in a find that experts in the country have hailed as major.
The tomb in Abusir once belonged to Wahibre-mery-Neith, who once led a group of foreign soldiers during a period when Egypt’s empire was expanding. The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities said that the tomb dates to sometime between the 26th and 27th dynasties, putting it just before 500 B.C.E.
Its main burial area extends 52 feet into the ground and contained a basalt coffin that was empty upon its discovery this year. The coffin’s surface was engraved with a quotation from the Egyptian Book of the Dead that relays information about how people resurrect during their journey into the afterlife.
Archaeologists also uncovered alabaster canopic jars, which preserved parts of the buried person’s body during the mummification process, and 402 ushabti figurines, which were intended to function as stand-ins for servants in the afterlife.
The archaeologists with the Czech Institute of Egyptology were not the first to enter the tomb, however.
Research after the find revealed that the tomb had been broken into by thieves sometime in either the 4th or 5th century B.C.E. The thieves had burrowed a hole into the tomb’s side and smashed a portion of the coffin that featured a representation of the person buried inside it.
In a statement, archaeologist Mohamed Mujahid said, “Although the excavations of Wah-ib-ra-Mara-Nate cemetery have not provided us with many important archaeological finds or sophisticated funeral delights, the cemetery is unique and important.”