Researchers Rediscover Lost Egyptian Tomb With 4,400-Year-Old Mummy Inside

In the 19th century, a French scholar named Auguste Mariette found the tomb of Ptahshepses, an ancient Egyptian high priest. He then partially excavated it, removing key parts of the tomb, like its intricate false door. After the extraction of these objects, the tomb disappeared under the sand, with its location remaining a mystery—until now. A team of Czech archaeologists have rediscovered this site, long thought lost to Egyptologists.

The Czech Institute of Egyptology, part of the Faculty of Arts of Charles University, made the thrilling discovery. The tomb of Ptahshepses was found between the pyramid fields of Abusir and Saqqara, in Egypt. One of the most significant elements of this archeological site is that it contained the mummified remains of Ptahshepses, which date back to 4,400 years ago.

The team announced the finding on Facebook. “It was a difficult search lasting several years,” Miroslav Barta, head of research at Abusir, explains. “Detailed satellite imagery of the area and the study of old maps led to the rediscovery of the tomb of Ptahshepses in 2022.”

The false door and lintel that were removed by Mariette are now exhibited in the British Museum. The door, which is a symbolic entrance the Egyptians believed the deceased could use to exit the tomb, also had significant inscriptions. These detailed carvings list the main events in Ptahshepses' life, from his birth under king Menkaure and his education at the palace to his marriage to the daughter of pharaoh Userkaf.

“This reference itself indicates that Ptahshepses is the first known official of non-royal descent in Egyptian history who was given the privilege of marrying a royal daughter,” the Institute explains. “Moreover, on the lintel, there is reference [to] one of the earliest attestations of the god Osiris. And this makes the official Ptahshepses even more unique because he can be credited with the idea of introducing the famous god of the Egyptian afterlife into the Egyptian pantheon.”

Following the site’s rediscovery in 2022, the team carried out their excavations throughout 2023. After exposing the extensive 137.7-foot long and 72-foot wide structure of the mastaba—a rectangular structure found in Egyptian tombs—they finally entered the actual chamber. There, they spotted some of the original equipment used for the burial, like votive offerings, pottery, and a mummified fish. However, the most important finding was that of the mummified remains, which will shed light on the evolution of mummification.

“The tomb of a man who changed the course of Egyptian history has thus been rediscovered, representing one of the expedition's greatest recent discoveries,” added Barta. “The research is still ongoing, and further discoveries will likely be made to shed new light on his family and times.”

The tomb of Ptahshepses, long thought lost to Egyptologists, was recently found by the Czech Institute of Egyptology.

False door and architrave of Ptahspepses.

False door and architrave of Ptahspepses. From the Tomb of Ptahshepses at Saqqara, Egypt. Old Kingdom, 5th Dynasty, 25th century BCE. British Museum, London. (Photo: Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg) via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0)

h/t: [IFL Science]

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Regina Sienra

Regina Sienra is a Staff Writer at My Modern Met. Based in Mexico City, Mexico, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications with specialization in Journalism from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She has 10+ years’ experience in Digital Media, writing for outlets in both English and Spanish. Her love for the creative arts—especially music and film—drives her forward every day.
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