Excavations reveal tomb of the “Overseer of the Temple of Amun”
Archaeologists from the Leiden Turin Expedition to Saqqara have uncovered an ornate tomb dating to the early Ramesside period (c. 13th century BCE) that belonged to Panehsy, the overseer of the Temple of Amun. While in recent years many tombs have been excavated at Saqqara—the necropolis of the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis—this roughly 3,300-year-old tomb “sheds new light on the development of the Saqqara necropolis during the Ramesside period,” said Mostafa Waziri, Secretary-General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities.
The tomb, located near the famous Step Pyramid of Djoser, was constructed as a freestanding temple with an inner courtyard, colonnaded porticoes, and underground burial chambers. Built of mudbrick, the upper structure still stands around 5 feet tall and is adorned with limestone slabs covered in colorful reliefs. The reliefs depict various scenes of Panehsy, his wife Baia, a singer of Amun, and the priest who took care of the mortuary temple.
Under the tomb, the team found a complex of rooms built off the burial shaft. Some 50 feet below the upper floor was the burial chamber itself. Around a hundred years after Panehsy’s death, the tomb was reused by a high priest of Hathor named Pinodjem. That was not the last time the tomb would be opened though, as it was already looted in antiquity before eventually filling with sand.
The team uncovered several other tombs nearby as well. One such tomb belonged to a man named Yuyu who was a gold foil maker for the treasury of the pharaoh. Another belonged to a yet unknown individual and included a fascinating and rare sculpture of the tomb’s owner and family.
The tomb of Yuyu was well preserved and included many high-quality and detailed decorations, including reliefs showing his funerary procession and the revival of his mummified body in the afterlife. Other decorations showed veneration of the goddess Hathor and the god Sokar, a local god of Saqqara. Four generations of Yuyu’s family were also depicted within the small tomb, including Yuyu’s parents, his wife, his children and grandchildren, as well as his brother, his brother’s wife, and their children.
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