Tomb of Priest May Mark Egyptian City of the Dead

A maze-like pathway leads to the burial chamber of an ancient Egyptian priest just south of a pyramid builders' necropolis, according to archaeologists.

The tomb could mark a completely new-to-science necropolis (Greek for "city of the dead"), said Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities. He added that it might also mark an offshoot of the western necropolis at Giza – the latter being home to Egypt's most famous pyramids, which housed the mummified bodies of ancient royalty.

"This tomb could be the first of many in the area," Hawass said. "Hopefully we have located a new necropolis dedicated to certain members of the royal court."

The newly discovered Fifth Dynasty (2465-2325 B.C.) tomb holds the body of the priest Rudj-Ka, a member of the ancient Egyptian court. Rudj-Ka served as a purification priest for the pharaoh Khafre (2520-2494 B.C.) and his mortuary cult.

Hawass pointed to unique architectural features of the tomb that include a superstructure built from limestone blocks. Those blocks create the maze-like pathway leading to the tomb entrance carved into a cliff face.

The tomb's walls include painted reliefs that show Rudj-ka with his wife in front of an offering table that holds gifts of bread, goose and cattle. But it also shows the priest doing daily life activities such as fishing and boating.

This latest discovery was announced by Farouk Hosny, Egypt's minister of culture, based on a routine excavation by an Egyptian archaeological team from the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Live Science Staff
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