Unearths Unique Tomb of Egyptian Commander- 6th Century BC

The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities announced on July 15 that a team of Czech archaeologists, while excavating near the Giza Plateau, discovered a tomb belonging to a powerful Egyptian military commander who lived 2,500 years ago.

The ancient commander’s tomb was discovered by Czech researchers about 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) from the Pyramids of Giza, near the Old Kingdom cemetery and the Abusir archaeological site. Notably, the tomb was located near Wah-Ib-Ra Meri Nate’s embalming stash, which was discovered four months earlier. The finding of the latter suggested that the commander was buried nearby, so the archaeologists were not shocked to find this burial site where they did.

In a press release, the ministry said that the discovery is “unique of its kind” and provides new insight into the turbulent period of the beginning of the era of the Persian domination of ancient Egypt and puts forward the first evidence of true globalization in the ancient world. [The tomb also] offers a new insight into the turbulent period of the beginning of the era of the Persian domination of ancient Egypt.

Digging Up a One-of-a-Kind Tomb

Wah-Ib-Ra Meri Nate was interred in a huge, two-tiered square tomb specifically dug to hold the acclaimed commander’s remains. The main shaft was nearly 20 feet (six meters) deep and measured approximately 45 feet by 45 feet (14 meters by 14 meters) across. Another smaller shaft was dug into the bedrock below that, and this one was rectangular and measured 11 feet by 21 feet (6.5 meters by 3.3 meters).

The commander’s mummified body was placed at the bottom of this second shaft, far underground at a depth of approximately 52 feet (16 meters). He was buried inside an elaborate double-sarcophagus that had both an inner and outer section. The outer sarcophagus was constructed from two heavy slabs of white limestone, while the inner coffin was carved out of basalt and formed into the shape of a human body. Overall, the basalt sarcophagus measured 7.5 by 6.5 feet (2.3 meters by 1.98 meters) in size.

The archaeologists were disappointed to see that this great discovery was defeated by the tomb thieves and the sarcophagus was smashed open and the mummy of Wah-Ib-Ra Meri Nate was removed. Based on the finding of two pottery objects left within the tomb that belonged to the fourth or fifth century AD, they determined that tomb robbers had broken in and taken it more than 1,000 years ago.

In addition to the absence of a mummy, the area inside the basalt sarcophagus was devoid of grave goods. Only a scarab delicately carved into the shape of a heart and an amulet supposed to be worn on the head was discovered.

The discovery of Wah-Ib-Ra Meri Nate’s embalming deposit and later his burial site has given archaeologists an opportunity to learn a few things about the military commander’s life. A close examination of his tomb suggests it wasn’t quite finished when he died, and if his final entombment was unexpected that could be one reason why there was a relative scarcity of goods and inscriptions found inside.

Since he was a military man, it seems reasonable to presume that Wah-Ib-Ra Meri Nate died in battle. If he didn’t serve during the reign of Cambyses II, perhaps he lost his life in a campaign of resistance against the invading Persians before 525 BC. If so he likely died a hero of sorts, and he would have been given a proper and elaborate burial even if his final resting place was not entirely prepared for his arrival.

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