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From the Sands of Saqqara June 11, 1997
by Spencer P.M. Harrington

[image] This chapel, on display at the Louvre since 1903, belongs to the recently rediscovered Mastaba of Akhethetep at Saqqara, Egypt. (Jean-Luc Bouot/Musée du Louvre) [LARGER IMAGE]

A 4,500-year-old Egyptian tomb complex that once housed a mortuary chapel on display at the Louvre since 1903 has been located not far from the pyramid of the pharaoh Djoser at Saqqara. Discovered by the French archaeologist Auguste Mariette at the turn of the century, the tomb, called the Mastaba of Akhethetep, was covered over with sand and forgotten shortly after the chapel was removed.

Archaeologists affiliated with the Louvre used Mariette's sketchy records to rediscover it. The remains of the mastaba are 15 feet tall and consist of several rooms, some of which contained funerary offerings to Akhethetep, possibly a high official in the royal court, and three limestone statues of him. In one room were red-ink inscriptions providing instructions for tomb builders and a papyrus fragment with the cartouche of the pharaoh Isesi, also known as Djedkare (ca. 2400-2350 B.C.).

© 1997 by the Archaeological Institute of America