The Minister for Egypt’s Antiquities, Mr Zahi Hawass, has announced the opening of seven new sites (tombs) to the public. This has been seen as a move to boost Egypt’s struggling tourist industry and a positive step to help all the local people involved in tourism.
The seven tombs are located south of Saqqara, about 19 miles south of Cairo. All the tombs date from the New Kingdom (C16th B.C. – C11th B.C.)
The tomb of the treasurer Maya, in Tutankhamen’s reign is unfinished, but features carved reliefs of Maya and his wife Merit. Maya helped the boy-king to reopen temples in the capital city, Luxor, which had been abandoned by Akhenaton, his father.
A general called Horenheb had his tomb built in south Saqqara, but as he rose in his status by restoring the country’s foreign affairs, he was buried in the Valley of the Kings, and his wife occupied the old tomb at Saqqara.
A royal administrator, Ptahemwia to Akhenaton, and then Tutankhamun, had five tombs appointed to him, which are reported to have contained between 50 and 60 coffins, mostly containing children who had died of disease.
A temple steward and scribe called Meryneith, who became the High Priest of Aten and at the Temple of Neith.
A treasury administrator called Tia, under Ramses II, whose tomb was also a mortuary temple to the god Osiris.
An overseer called Pay, of the harem of Tutankhamun.
A soldier called Raia, son of Pay, who took over as harem overseer after his father’s death.
These tombs were actually discovered around 1840, but none were explored until the about 1970. Dutch researchers from Leiden University are excavating and restoring the tombs at the present time.