A vast necropolis near Cairo has proven to be rich in archaeological discoveries, including an ancient funerary temple, with experts claiming it will “rewrite the history” of the region.
The country’s Tourism and Antiquities Ministry announced the discoveries were made by a team of Egyptian archaeologists working in the Saqqara necropolis, which lies near the famed pyramid of King Djoser.
“All these discoveries will rewrite the history of Saqqara and the New Kingdom,” said Dr Zahi Hawass, who headed the archaeological mission.
The funerary temple of Queen Nearit, the wife of King Teti, the first king of the Sixth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom (2686-2181 BC), was discovered.
Dr Hawass said plans for the temple’s layout were also found.
Funerary temples were built near royal tombs in ancient Egypt to commemorate the reign of the pharaoh at the time.
The new discoveries include 52 burial shafts, between 10 to 12 meters deep, and more than 50 wooden coffins – or sarcophagi – dating back to the New Kingdom (1520-1075 BC) were uncovered inside these shafts.
“This is the first time that coffins dating back to 3000 years have been found in the Saqqara region,” Dr Hawass said.
A papyrus representing Chapter 17 from the Book of the Dead was found, measuring 4 metres in length and 1 metre in width, with the name of its owner recorded on it (Pw-Kha-Ef).
Statues, stelae, toys, wooden boats and funerary masks that date back to the New Kingdom were also unearthed.
Egypt has in recent years announced a string of archaeological discoveries in several parts of the nation in an attempt to revive its battered tourism industry, which is a main source of national income.