4,000-Year-Old Egyptian Tomb Opens to the Public

A picture taken on Sept. 8, 2018, shows the tomb of Mehu in the Saqqara necropolis, south of the Egyptian capital Cairo, as it opens for the visitors for the first time since its discovery in 1940. (Photo: KHALED DESOUKI/Contributor/AFP)

More than three-quarters of a century after it was first discovered by Egyptian scholars, a beautifully decorated tomb belonging to a high-ranking official in ancient Egypt is finally open to the public.

"It is a beautiful tomb, and it was discovered in 1940. We are making sure to constantly present cultural content for tourists," Egyptian Minister of Antiquities, Khaled El Anany, told reporters, according to AfricaNews. "This is why we open tombs for visitors and in the past two or three years, we opened a large number of museums such as Sohag’s museum after 30 years of work. Today we opened this previously discovered tomb to invite ambassadors and show the media that Egypt is safe."

Journalists tour the newly opened tomb of Mehu. (Photo: KHALED DESOUKI/Contributor/ AFP)

Located in a massive burial ground named Saqqara outside the ruins of Memphis, the once-bustling capital city of ancient Egypt, the tomb is thought to date back more than 4,000 years to around 2300 B.C. It belonged to a high-ranking official named Mehu, who played an influential role in the royal court of the sixth dynasty. According to the detailed inscriptions on the wall, Mehu held claim to no less than 48 titles.

"He was a vizier, the chief of judges and the director of the palace at the time of the King Teti, the first king of the 6th dynasty," Egyptian Archaeologist Zahi Hawass said.

The tomb is notable for its beautiful wall inscriptions of everyday life in ancient Egypt. (Photo: KHALED DESOUKI/Contributor/AFP)

Mehu's tomb is one of the best-preserved and colorful of Egypt's Old Kingdom (2649–2150 B.C.), with various pigments used in the wall inscriptions unique to the time period. It contains four decorated rooms with a wide courtyard.

The tomb belonged to a man named Mehu, a vizier, the chief of judges and the director of the palace at the time of King Titi. (Photo: KHALED DESOUKI/Contributor/AFP)

In addition to reliefs of Mehu, the walls also contain scenes of everyday life in ancient Egypt, including metalworking, the harvest, boat construction, fishing with nets and food preparation. Mehu also figures into scenes of hunting, a skill considered a symbol of power and intelligence. Surprisingly, once scene also shows Mehu dancing acrobatically.

Various scenes throughout the tomb show Mehu participating in hunting, a practice considered to be a symbol of power and intelligence. (Photo: KHALED DESOUKI/Contributor/AFP)

According to officials, Mehu was buried in the tomb along with his son, Meren Ra, and grandson, Heteb Kha. Curiously, archaeologists also found a smaller chamber dedicated to Meryre-ankh, "Inspector of Priests of the Pyramid of Pepy I." It is thought that Mehu usurped the tomb from the original owner for his own purposes.

Archaeologists say the tomb of Mehu dates back to around 2300 B.C. (Photo: KHALED DESOUKI/Contributor/AFP)

The tomb, which opened last weekend, is now available as part of regular tours to the Saqqara area outside Giza. The area, designated a World Heritage Site in 1979, is thought to have been used as a necropolis for non-royal burials and cult ceremonies for more than 3,000 years.