Rock tomb of an unknown priest

Written by Felgr Pavel on .

Researches continued on one of several non-royal necropolises in autumn 2004. The necropolises are in the southern part of Abusir and they came from the period of pyramid builders (2,700 – 2,200 BC). Czech expedition discovered a unique rock tomb there from the beginning of 6th dynasty period.

The rock tomb, whose ground plan above the ground is 41.3 x 17.2 meters, has a shape of several meters high mastaba build of local blocks of limestone. There is an unusual (for both its huge proportions as well as the ground plan) underground rock chapel under the tomb there, about 4 meters lower in the bedrock. The chapel served for the cult of deceased tomb owner, whose name hasn’t been discovered yet.

The entrance of the tomb is very unique for its shape of false door (cult stele) and also for the entrance corridor, which isn’t perpendicular to the chapel axis but is oblique. It was because of the rising sun on the eastern horizon that touched the cult stele with its first rays of light in the underground chapel. This way the myth of the tomb owner rebirth together with the sun god Ra was emulated every day.

Up to now the largest discovered underground chamber in Abusir and Saqqara

However, the main surprise was still waiting for the Czech Egyptologists. After a couple of weeks of working inside the tomb it showed up that it is up to now the largest known underground chamber discovered in rock tombs in the area of Abusir and Saqqara (it is almost 19 m long, 2.5 m in width and 3.5 m high, the whole space cut in rock). Also remains of totally broken tomb decoration were discovered inside this chamber. The name of the owner, as well as his portrait, hasn’t been discovered yet. On the ground of his titles can be concluded that the he might be a high official, who was a priest of the ram deity Khnum and the god of necropolises and mummification Anubis and lived at the end of the 5th dynasty.

The remains of his body scattered in nonreverently way, which were originally laid in a limestone sarcophagus in a side chamber, could indicate that the burial and tomb were intentionally damaged. Is it possible that the position of this priest was so high that he got mixed up with royal court politics and lost?

The rock tomb

Several meters long inscription from the inside of the tomb that contains titles of the owner
and magical texts for life in the kingdom come.

Message from the Nile

  • History of Czech institution of egyptology

    The Czech egyptology founder is Frantisek Lexa, the author of up to now evaluated work about ancient Egypt magic and Demotic grammar. Seminar for egyptology started thanks to him in Faculty of Philosophy and Arts of Charles University in Prague in 1925. Two years later Lexa became the first regular professor of egyptology in then Czechoslovakia.

  • Abusir - outstation of Czech egyptology expedition

    Abusir is an archaeological locality in Egypt named after nearby recent village Abusir. It is situated on western Nile bank on the edge of Libyan tableland approximately 20 kilometers to the south-west of Cairo. The name of this locality is derived from ancient Egypt god Osiris, from Per Usir (Busiris), "(cult) place of Osiris" (Busiris in Greek).

  • Researches in Western desert

    Czech egyptology is successful in researching not only on pyramidal fields in Abusir recently, but also in supporting and organizing smaller expeditions into egyptian Western desert. Czech expedition has been working even in slowly evanescent oasis El-Hajez since 2003, which is situated about 400 km to the south-west from Cairo.

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