Analysis by Rossella Lorenzi
Mon Oct 18, 2010 12:48 PM ET
Archaeologists have unearthed a more than 4,000-year-old tomb of a pharaonic priest near the Giza pyramids, Egypt's authorities announced on Monday.
Beautifully decorated, the burial site is located near the tombs of the pyramid-builders.
It belonged to Rudj-Ka, a priest who lived during the Fifth Dynasty (2465 - 2323 B.C.) and was responsible for the mortuary cult of the pharaoh Khafre, also known as Chephren.
The son of Khufu, or Cheops, the Fourth Dynasty king Khafre is best known as the owner of the second largest of the Giza Pyramids.
According to Zahi Hawass, general secretary of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, Khafre's pyramid complex and mortuary cult remained functioning well after the king's death, thanks to a group of priests who conducted rituals and prayers in honor of the dead pharaoh.
Rudj-Ka was one of those priests. An important member of the ancient Egyptian court, he was provisioned through a royal endowment to serve as a purification priest.
Built from limestone blocks, which create a maze-like pathway to the main entrance, Rudj-Ka's tomb is cut directly into a cliff face and boasts walls painted with beautiful scenes of daily life in ancient Egypt.
One wall painting shows Rudj-ka fishing and sailing. Another scene portrays the priest and his wife in front of an offering table loaded with gifts of bread, goose and cattle.
According to Hawass, the discovery might indicate that an unknown larger necropolis lies near the three famous pyramids.
"This tomb could be the first of many in the area. Hopefully we have located a new necropolis dedicated to certain members of the royal court," Hawass said in a statement.
He also speculated that the area could be a continuation of the western necropolis at Giza, which may have resulted from overcrowding in the Giza plateau.
Photos: Meghan E. Strong. Courtesy of SCA. Rudj-ka with his wife (top photo); Rudj-Ka fishing in the marshes. Above him is a depiction of boating on the Nile (bottom photo).
Source: Discovery News
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