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Bureaucrat's tomb found

Tomb of bureaucrat Ptah-M-Wia found at Saqqara by Cairo University’s archaeological mission.

The Saqqara necropolis, the burial ground of the Ancient Egyptian capital at Memphis, continues to yield fascinating discoveries. Ptah-M-Wia was an important official who served pharaoh Ramesses II about 3,200 years ago. He held various positions including Head of the Treasury and Chief Supervisor of Livestock. During an era when there was no coinage and the entire state was supported by payments in rations and precious metals, Ptah-M-Wia was a very powerful bureaucrat indeed.

Ptah-M-Wia’s tomb is a combination tomb and temple, with an imposing entrance followed by two or three courtyards. The entrance bears painted and plastered walls with scenes depicting the tomb’s owner. Wall paintings in the first hall of the tomb at Saqqara in Lower Egypt show workers leading cattle and goats and the slaughter of a calf, perhaps a symbol of his livestock duties. Research on the tomb is still in progress, including the decipherment of hieroglyphic inscriptions. Some of them commemorate Ptah-M-Wia’s supervision of divine offerings at one of the pharaoh’s temples at Thebes (today’s Luxor), but which one remains a mystery. No date nor any human remains have been found in the sepulchre.

Discovered by a team from Cairo University, Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities is coordinating research into Saqqara’s tombs dating to the 18th and 19th Dynasties. The discoveries include the sepulchre of the royal vizier and High Priest of the god Ptah, Nefferronpet.

Image: Wall paintings from the bureaucrat's tomb, complete with – dare we say it – a red tape decoration at the bottom.

Credit: Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

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