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Exploring an Egyptian Sage's Tomb

At the Egyptian necropolis of Abusir, a team of archaeologists led by the Czech Institute of Egyptology’s Miroslav Bárta recently unearthed the tomb of a 5th Dynasty (ca. 2465-2323 B.C.) official named Kairsu. A powerful scribe and the overseer of an institution known as the House of Life, Kairsu wielded a great deal of authority and was revered as a sage long after he died. All images of the tomb’s excavation in the slideshow are courtesy of the Czech Institute of Egyptology and were taken by P. Košárek.  

  •  The excavation of Kairsu’s tomb seen from the top of the pyramid of the 5th Dynasty pharaoh Nefirirkare (r. ca. 2446-2438 B.C.). The pyramid of Sahure (r. ca. 2458-2446 B.C.) stands in the background.
  • The tomb’s “relieving chamber,” a compartment built to reduce the weight burden of the structure above, was found with completely intact mudbrick vaults.
  • This view shows Kairsu's burial chamber shortly after its discovery. The official’s limestone sarcophagus can be seen on the upper right of the image.
  • An inscription detailing Kairsu’s titles, including Overseer of the House of Life, was found in the burial complex and is shown here lying on its side.
  • These limestone canopic jars, or vessels used to hold internal organs during the mummification process, were found in Kairsu’s burial complex. Each measures about 10 inches high.
  • This two-foot-tall granite statue of Kairsu was found in front of his sarcophagus. It is the first statue of an Old Kingdom official to be discovered in a burial chamber.

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