2.19.2007

New Discovery in Ancient Egypt
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Acacia, Tamarisk, or Cedar of Lebanon statue of Ka-Hay

Archaeologists have discovered an Old Kingdom tomb in Saqqara, near the well-known step pyramid of King Djoser (said to be designed by the architect Imhotep). The tomb is mud-brick and in the mastaba (Arabic: birthing bed) style and belonged to an offical named Ka-Hay, "keeper of divine records," better described as temple scribe, and his wife.

Interestingly, the tomb contained wooden statues, which would have been painted to a life-like appearance. The tomb also held a seated statue of Ka-Hay and his wife (said to be unique in press reports) but in fact is reminiscent of the seated statue of the offical Ra-Hotep in the Cairo Museum.

Ka-Hay appears to have been an official of the time of Teti, around 4,300 years ago, whose pyramid is adjacent to the necropolis, or burial ground. Teti's pyramid contains Pyramid texts, with recitations allowing the King to travel amongst the imperishable stars. The pyramid texts were documented and translated into German by Kurt Sethe, but are poorly understood.

(Download a high resolution copy of these utterances) I suspect(know) that there are many more of these lesser mud brick tombs in the area, which either have been cataloged but not officially excavated, or remain undiscovered. The tomb contained a serdab with a statue - a kind of holding place for the 'ka'- which might be translated spirit - the ka could leave the tomb and enjoy the offerings left by relatives, or take off on nightly sojourns.

The announcement was made by Zahi Hawass, Egypt's Supreme Director of Antiquities.

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