The huge granite sarcophagus of King Ramses II’s treasurer, Ptah-em-wia, was discovered by archaelogists at Saqqara, an ancient necropolis roughly 20 miles south of Cairo.
The surface of the coffin was complete with inscriptions dedicated to the late treasurer, which helped researchers confirm identification. The inscriptions detailed his closeness to Ramses II and included emblems of deities such as the sky goddess Nut to protect the deceased.
The burial chamber and sarcophagus, which have remained undisturbed for thousands of years, could provide a greater understanding of Egyptian rule after the death of King Tutankhamun.
Ramses II is believed to have ruled during the 13th century B.C.E. and was known for being among the most important pharaohs to have presided over Egypt during the New Kingdom period.
This discovery comes on the heels of last year’s uncovering of Ptah-em-wia’s tomb by Ola El Aguizy, emeritus professor of archaeology at Cairo University, who is spearheading research done at the site, and her team.
Archaeologists noticed a vertical shaft in the center of the tomb’s courtyard. After digging out the 26-foot shaft with a bucket over the course of one week, El Aguizy then went down the shaft and found the sarcophagus. Because such tombs have usually already been raided by grave robbers or other interventions, it is incredibly rare to unearth a complete sarcophagus in its original tomb.
While the finds will continue to be studied, National Geographic captured the excavation as part of its eight-part documentary series Lost Treasures of Egypt.
Additional discoveries at Saqqara within the last year also include the 4,300-year-old tomb of an ancient Egyptian dignitary.