A 4,500-year-old cemetery – the final rest place of some of Egypt’s rich and powerful – has been discovered at an excavation site on the outskirts of Cairo, a short hop from the Giza pyramid complex.
A collection of burials were discovered at the cemetery, which was first constructed during the Old Kingdom’s Fifth Dynasty between 2465 and 2323 BCE, according to an announcement from Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities. Although activity at the center started around then, it was frequently re-used during the Late Period (664-332 BCE).
One of the Old Kingdom tombs belonged to a person called Behnui-Ka, who had the rather flamboyant title of “The Priest, the Judge, the purifier of kings: Khafre, Userkaf and Niuserre; the priest of goddess Maat, and the elder juridical in the court.” Another tomb contained the remains of a person known as Nwi Who, who had the equally impressive title of “the chief of the great state; the overseer of the new settlements, and the purifier of King Khafre.” The "Khafre" figure they are referring to is an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the 4th dynasty during the Old Kingdom who ordered the construction of the second-largest pyramid of Giza.
Alongside the burials, archeologists also unearthed a number of artifacts, the most impressive of which was a fine limestone statue of the tomb’s owner, his wife, and son.
Burials from the Late Period were not quite as ornate, but they were arguably more dazzling. Excavation at the site revealed the presence of numerous wooden sarcophagi that were decorated with colorful paint that was surprisingly vibrant even after all these centuries.
Despite all these grandiose titles and lavish burials, the location of the site neighbors the workers’ cemeteries. In this part of the complex, you can find the remains of dozens of masons, artisans, carpenters, and other skilled workers who helped to build the pyramids.
Eygpt’s antiquities ministry noted the discovery not only has "scientific and archaeological value, but it is a good promotion to Egypt.” The area’s rich history is a key component of Egypt’s tourism industry, one of the leading sources of income for the country. However, following a stream of failed revolutions, a number of aircraft disasters, and continued political instability in the region, the industry has suffered greatly. As such, the government has pulled out all the stops to promote their recent archeological discoveries.