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Wednesday, 22 November, 2000, 22:35 GMT
Czechs find ancient Egyptian tomb
Sakara pyramid
The tomb was found near the pyramid at Saqqara
A group of Czech archaeologists in Egypt say they have discovered the tomb of an important nobleman which is around 4,300 years old.

The team, headed by Czech Egyptologist Bretislav Vachala, hopes for more such spectacular finds in the ancient Egyptian funerary complex at Abu Sir, south-west of Cairo.

The tomb of Inty, a judge and inspector of priests, lies in the southern part of Abu Sir, some 500 metres north of the famous Serapeum underground galleries in northern Saqqara, where sacred Apis bulls were buried.

It is part of an extensive burial site with tombs of noblemen of the Third to Sixth dynasties of the Old Kingdom.

This tomb dates back to the first peak period in the development of pharaonic Egypt and the peak era of pyramid-building

Professor Miroslav Verner
The Czech archaeologists have been exploring the site for 10 years now and have already excavated several historically important tombs.

Reuters news agency quoted Czech archaeologists as saying the discovery "could yield vital clues about the collapse of the pyramid-building era in ancient Egypt".

But Professor Miroslav Verner, of the Czech Institute of Egyptology at Prague's Charles University told BBC News Online that this was something of an exaggeration, although the site was significant and unique.

"This tomb dates back to the era of Sixth Dynasty, approximately 2,300 BC, towards the end of the Old Kingdom - the first peak period in the development of the pharaonic Egypt and the peak era of pyramid-building," he said.

But he added: "Pyramids, as royal tombs, continued to be built for another three-quarters of a millennium."

The tomb contains valuable hieroglyphic inscriptions
The superstructure of the tomb is built of limestone and contains valuable hieroglyphic inscriptions and scenes in relief showing details of Inty's life and including traditional religious texts.

There is a nicely carved false door bearing Inty's name and titles - the symbolic door through which the dead are believed to return from the afterlife to take the burial offerings and leave again.

The underground burial chamber, reached by the archeologists on Monday, is accessed via a 20m deep shaft.

They found a beautiful sarcophagus with the remnants of Inty's mummy, as well as an important part of the funerary equipment consisting mainly of miniature symbolic vessels of alabaster and tools of copper.

The find is the culmination of more than 100 years of Czech Egyptology and of 40 years of active involvement in excavations in Egypt.

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24 May 00 | Sci/Tech
Mayor's mummy found
01 Nov 00 | Middle East
'Oldest boat' found in Egypt
15 Nov 99 | Middle East
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