[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 February 2007, 16:28 GMT
New finds at Egypt's city of dead
Wooden statue in Saqqara
A wooden statue is removed from the scribe's mud tomb
Archaeologists have been unveiling the latest discoveries from the Saqqara necropolis, or city of the dead, south of Egypt's capital, Cairo.

Two tombs dating from between 3,000 and 4,200 years ago are of a royal scribe and a butler.

Another find is of the sarcophagi of a priest and his female companion from the 12th dynasty (1991-1786 BC).

Saqqara holds a number of temples and tombs. Officials say perhaps only 30% of its treasures have been discovered.


The tomb of the royal scribe dates to the period of the pharaoh Akhenaten, who was known for discarding Egypt's old gods.

His rule was between 1379 and 1362 BC, shortly before Tutankhamen.

Butler's tomb in Saqqara
A restoration worker with the butler's tomb at Saqqara

Egypt's antiquities chief, Zahi Hawass, said: "It doesn't look great because it was built from mud brick and not built of limestone, but I really believe that this tomb is very important."

The tomb's dark wooden door bears hieroglyphics of the scribe and his wife.

The second tomb belongs to a butler who died 3,350 years ago and contains well-preserved blue and orange paints with scenes of animals and rituals.

It is thought the discoveries show that nearby Memphis was still functioning as the capital, despite the official capital being Luxor in the south.

The second find was of the 4,000-year-old anthropoid, or humanlike, wooden coffins of the priest Sobek Hat and his female companion.

Their coffins are painted in light orange and have blue hieroglyphics. They have not yet been opened and the mummies inside remain intact.

The anthropoids were said to act as a substitute body for the dead.

Hunt for ancient medicine secrets
30 Jan 07 |  Manchester
Thieves find pharaohs' dentists
23 Oct 06 |  Middle East
Cairo moves 3,200-year-old Pharaoh
25 Aug 06 |  In Pictures
Egypt's 'Ramses' mummy returned
26 Oct 03 |  Middle East


Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific