Statues of 5th dynasty top officials discovered in Abusir

Nevine El-Aref , Sunday 18 Nov 2012

Nine wooden and limestone statues unearthed by Czech archaeological mission at Abusir necropolis reveal 5th century ancient burial customs, society, environment

statue of a couple

During routine excavations in Abusir South, 30km north of Giza plateau, Czech excavators from the Czech Institute of Egyptology of the Charles University in Prague, unearthed a collection of fifth dynasty ancient Egyptian statues.

Miroslav Barta, the head of the Czech mission told Ahram Online that the statues were found in a hidden tunnel located inside a rock-hewn tomb of Iti, the crew inspector. His tomb is located between two rock-hewn tombs of two fifth dynasty high officials: the overseer of the crew scribe, Nefer, and the chief of justice of the Shepespuptah great house.

Although the exploration of the tunnel suggests that it was subjected to looting in antiquity, nine wooden and painted limestone statues were found inside.

"It seems that tomb raiders did not recognise the importance, nor the beauty of such statues, so they left them in situ but, regretfully, six were broken into two as a result of the robbers' activities, with three found intact," Barta told Ahram Online. Perhaps, he continued, they were searching for jewellery or the like.

These statues were found scattered in the tunnel, some  standing in their original position, others laying on the floor. Two of the fragments were made of wood, while the rest of the statues were made of limestone and most of them still have polychromy. Only one statue is inscribed with the deceased's name, Iti.

Barta says the discovery is very important because it shows the traditions of ancient Egyptian burial practices, the society, environment, art and history of the fifth dynasty. Excavation is continuing for more evidence of that era in Egypt’s ancient history.

Abusir means The House of Osiris, the god of the dead and resurrection. Abusir became a royal burial place during the reign of King Userkaf, founder of the fifth dynasty, who built a remarkable and unique solar temple. Some of his successors built their own burial and solar temples there. The last solar temple was built by King Menkauhor at the end of the fifth dynasty.

A collection of mastaba tombs of higher courtiers are found there among them the one belongs to the royal hair dresser and vizier Ptahshepses.

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