Discovery of the Tomb of Panehsy in Saqqara
An archaeological mission from the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden (RMO) and the Egyptian Museum of Turin (Museo Egizio) unearthed the remains of the tomb of Panehsy, Steward of the Temple of Amun during early Ramesside period, along with a collection of smaller chapels in the Saqqara Necropolis.
“The new discovery sheds new light on the development of Saqqara Necropolis during the Ramesside period and introduces new individuals that were yet unknown in the historical sources,” said Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.
The tomb of Panehsy, which has the form of a freestanding temple with a gate entrance, an inner courtyard with columned porticoes, and a shaft to the underground burial chambers, is situated north to the tomb of the famous Maya, the high-ranking official from the time of Tutankhamun.
The tomb chapel features a gate entrance, an inner courtyard with columned porticoes, a shaft leading to underground burial chambers, and surviving mud brick walls standing about five feet tall, he added. A carving showing Panehsy worshipping the cow goddess Hathor was also found, along with a sculpture of Panehsy and his wife Baia, who served as the singer of Amun, seated before an offering table opposite a bald man wearing a leopard skin around his shoulders.
“Today we have a much wider understanding than when we started in the 1970s and we want to really have a wide understanding of Saqqara as a whole from the early dynastic period into the Greco-Roman late period,” Ms Weiss said.
Lara Weiss, curator of Leiden’s Egyptian and Nubian collection, pointed out that during excavation work, the mission stumbled upon four smaller tomb chapels located to the east of Panehsy’s tomb, one of which is of the gold foil-maker of the treasury of Yuyu. The tombs are very well preserved, and their walls bear high-quality, detailed, and stunning decorations.
Although it is a relatively small tomb chapel, four generations of Yuya’s family were venerated in beautiful colorful reliefs showing Yuya’s funerary procession and the reviving of his mummy to live in the afterlife as well as the veneration of the Hathor cow and the barque of the local Saqqara god Sokar.
Another notable find was made at the eastern side of Panehsy’s tomb, where a yet anonymous chapel with a very rare sculptured representation of the tomb’s owner and his family was discovered. The artistic style of the representation might have been inspired by the statues neighboring the tomb of Maya and Merit.
The archaeological mission aims to understand the history of Saqqara, one of the most important burial sites of ancient Egypt. The Leiden Museum conducted research in Saqqara together with the Egypt Exploration Society of London from 1975 to 1998. Since 1999, Leiden University has been a partner in the project, and in 2015 the Museo Egizio in Turin joined the mission.
Egypt has unveiled several major archaeological discoveries in recent years, mostly in the Saqqara necropolis. The publicity has been used to bolster its vital tourism industry, which has suffered from the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war.