Egypt unveils dozens of archaeological discoveries, including two ancient tombs

People stand in a desert landscape, with yellow tape and holes in the ground, and a pyramid as a backdrop
Egyptian antiquities workers dig at the site of the Step Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara, 15 miles south of Cairo, on Jan. 26, 2023.
(Amr Nabil / Associated Press)

Egyptian authorities on Thursday unveiled dozens of new archaeological discoveries, including two ancient tombs, at a Pharaonic necropolis just outside the capital, Cairo.

The artifacts, unearthed during a yearlong excavation, were found beneath an ancient stone enclosure near the Saqqara pyramids and date to the fifth and sixth dynasties of the Old Kingdom, spanning roughly 2500 BC to 2100 BC, the excavation team said.

A man stands in an archaeological dig with Egyptian hieroglyphics
An Egyptian antiquities guarder stands at a recently discovered tomb dating to the Old Kingdom, 2700 BC to 2200 BC, at the site of the Step Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara.
(Amr Nabil / Associated Press)

One of the uncovered tombs belonged to a priest from the fifth dynasty known as Khnumdjedef, while the other tomb belonged to an official named Meri, a palace official who held the title of “the keeper of the secrets,” the team said. Other major findings from the excavation include statues, amulets and a well-preserved sarcophagus.

Egypt’s most renowned archaeologist and director of the excavation, Zahi Hawass, unveiled the new discoveries from the stone enclosure, known as Gisr al-Mudir.

‘‘I put my head inside to see what was inside the sarcophagus: a beautiful mummy of a man completely covered in layers of gold,’’ Hawass said.

A man with a head covering looks at an artifact resembling an Egyptian mummy with a tall hat
An Egyptian antiquities worker watches a recently discovered artifact at the site of the Step Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara.
(Amr Nabil / Associated Press)
A stone artifact depicts a seated person on the left looking at rows of hieroglyphic symbols
A recently discovered artifact is displayed at the site of the Step Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara, Egypt.
(Amr Nabil / Associated Press)

The Saqqara site is part of a sprawling necropolis at Egypt’s ancient capital of Memphis that includes the Giza Pyramids as well as smaller pyramids at Abu Sir, Dahshur and Abu Ruwaysh. The ruins of Memphis were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in the 1970s.

Thursday’s unveiling comes amid a flurry of new discoveries announced by Egyptian authorities over the last week. Near the southern city of Luxor, authorities said they found dozens of burial sites from the New Kingdom era, dating from 1800 BC to 1600 BC. Discovered nearby were the ruins of an ancient Roman city, it said.

In a separate announcement Tuesday, a group of scientists from Cairo University revealed previously unknown details about a mummified teenage boy dating to about 300 BC. By using CT scans, the team of scientists was able to shed new light on the boy’s high social status by affirming the intricate details of the amulets inserted within his mummified body and the type of burial he received.


Egypt often publicly touts its ancient discoveries to attract more tourists, a significant source of foreign currency for the cash-strapped North African country. The sector suffered a long downturn after the political turmoil and violence that followed a 2011 uprising.

Egypt’s tourist industry was also hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and is suffering from the fallout from the war in Ukraine. Both Russia and Ukraine were formerly large sources of tourists visiting Egypt.

Associated Press writer Jack B. Jeffery contributed to this report from Cairo.