Dutch archaeologists find tomb from Egyptian king Akhenaten’s time

Saqqara in Egypt

Translated from Dutch news agency ANP:

CAIRO – Near Saqqara, Dutch archaeologists have found a tomb from the days of Pharaoh Akhenaten, 3300 years ago.

Egyptian authorities said this on Wednesday.

The discovery shows that Saqqara, close to the present capital Cairo, was used then as a cemetery for prominent people as well.

Zahi Hawass, chair of the archaeological council, calls this ,,one of the most important discoveries in that region”.

Akhenaten, who ruled about 1351 to 1334 BCE, is considered to be the pharaoh who introduced monotheism (belief in one god).

That one god was Aten, the solar disk, who before that time had not been so prominent.

For thousands of years, the Egyptians had worshipped many gods.


In the tomb, there are realistic style paintings from an epoch when some classical rules in art were broken.

The paintings depict life after death, but also daily life scenes, including monkeys eating dates.

A research team, led by Leiden archaeologists, has been working for years now at excavation and re-excavation of tombs in the desert near Saqqara.

This is an area south of the paved road of Unas and west of the Apa Jeremias monastery.

The tombs are from the New Kingdom (1350-1250 BCE).

In 2001, Leiden researchers found the grave of high priest Meryneith, a contemporary of pharaohs Akhenaten and Tutankhamun, there.

The depiction of life after death named in the news item would be a contrast to the view that in Akhenaten’s theology there is said to be no life after death.

See also here on this discovery.

More on Saqqara discoveries: here.

Ancient Egyptian rope: here.

King Tutankhamun might have worn some sort of orthopedic shoes specially designed to cope with his club foot condition, an investigation into the pharaoh’s footwear has suggested: here.

10 thoughts on “Dutch archaeologists find tomb from Egyptian king Akhenaten’s time

  1. Thu Feb 15, 2007

    CAIRO (Reuters) – Dutch archaeologists have discovered the tomb of the Pharaoh Akhenaten’s seal bearer, decorated with paintings including scenes of monkeys picking and eating fruit, Egyptian antiquities officials said on Wednesday.

    The tomb belonged to the official named Ptahemwi and was discovered during a Dutch team’s excavation in the Sakkara area, the burial ground for the city of Memphis, the state news agency MENA said, quoting chief antiquities official Zahi Hawass.

    Akhenaten, the 18th-dynasty pharaoh who ruled Egypt from 1379 to 1362 BC, abandoned most of the old gods and tried to imposed a monotheistic religion based on worship of the Aten, the disc of the sun.

    He built a new capital called Akhetaten at Tell el-Amarna, 250 km (160 miles) south of Cairo, and the find shows that high officials continued to build their tombs in Memphis near Cairo.

    “It is one of the most important finds in the Sakkara area because it goes back to the Akhenaten period,” MENA quoted Hawass as saying.

    Officials said the tomb had limestone walls with paintings of scenes from daily life and of Ptahemwi receiving offerings, MENA reported.

    “Some of the funniest scenes … are those of a number of monkeys picking and eating fruit,” said Osama el-Sheemi, head of Sakkara antiquities, quoted by MENA.

    The Dutch team has been working in Sakkara since the 1990s to find tombs dating from the New Kingdom. They had previously found the tomb of an Akhenaten-era priest.

    © Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.


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