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Polish archaeologists find ancient tomb of clerk who prepared pharaoh’s secret documents

The 4,300-year-old tomb was discovered in the Egyptian village of Saqqara.
Jarosław Dąbrowski/PCMA

The ancient tomb of a clerk responsible for preparing a pharaoh’s secret documents has been found by Polish archaeologists next to the world’s oldest pyramid.

The 4,300-year-old tomb was discovered in the Egyptian village of Saqqara where, according to hieroglyphs engraved on the tomb’s façade, Egyptologists managed to determine that it belongs to a man named Mehcheczi.

According to hieroglyphs engraved on the tomb’s façade, Egyptologists managed to determine that it belongs to a man named Mehcheczi.Jarosław Dąbrowski/PCMA

An aide to one of the first pharaohs of the VI dynasty, Mehczeczi was also an inspector of the royal estate and the priest of the tomb of king Teti.

This means that he most likely lived during the reign of his heir, Pharaoh Userkare, the second pharaoh of the Sixth Dynasty, reigning briefly for 1 to 5 years, in the late 24th to early 23rd century BC.

It is believed that Mehcheczi most likely lived during the reign of his heir, Pharaoh Userkare, the second pharaoh of the Sixth Dynasty, reigning briefly, 1 to 5 years, in the late 24th to early 23rd century BC.CC BY-SA 3.0

Professor Kamil Kuraszkiewicz from the Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Warsaw who is leading the research said: “For now, we have only unveiled the facade of the chapel, the interior is waiting for the next excavation campaign.

“Probably thanks to a good job, Mehczeczi was able to hire an efficient team of craftsmen, because his chapel is decorated with reliefs of exceptional beauty.”

The tomb is located on the eastern shore of the so-called Dry Moat, a gigantic ditch made on a rectangular plan (approx. 750 by 600 m) surrounding the complex of the oldest pyramid in Egypt (the Step Pyramid), built 4,700 years ago.CC BY-SA 3.0

The tomb is located on the eastern shore of the so-called Dry Moat, a gigantic ditch made on a rectangular plan (approx. 750 by 600 m) surrounding the complex of the oldest pyramid in Egypt (the Step Pyramid), built 4,700 years ago.

Today the Dry Moat is almost entirely covered with rubble and sand blown in from the desert. It is completely invisible from the earth’s surface, but its outline can be seen in some aerial and satellite photographs.

Conservators Zbigniew Godziejewski and Iwona Ciszewska-Woźniak, during work on the facade of the tomb.Agnieszka Kowalska/Center of Mediterranean Archeology, University of Warsaw)

Kuraszkiewicz said: “It is possible that he had the right to know what documents were created at the royal chancellery before they were published.

“But this is only a guess, because for the times we are talking about, we have little information.”

The work is being carried out as part of the mission of the Centre for Mediterranean Archeology at the University of Warsaw.


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