"Gentrified" Egyptian Burial Chamber Discovered

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Also in the tomb were two large sarcophagi: A massive exterior coffin made of limestone, and a human-shaped interior made of greywacke, a type of dark green sandstone. Both were densely covered with religious texts.

The tomb had been looted and plundered by robbers in the late Roman period, Verner told National Geographic News by telephone from the Czech Republic.

"The remains were completely destroyed," he said.

The bones of the royal scribe, Menekhibnekau, were scattered on the floor.

Among the objects found among his bones was a small rectangular ceramic seal depicting a jackal and nine bound captives.

Book of the Dead Decorations

"The decoration on the sides of the burial chamber differs from other burial chambers unearthed at Abu Sir," said Zahi Hawass, director general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. (Hawass is also a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence. National Geographic News is part of the National Geographic Society.)

"The southern side is decorated with a chapter of the Book of the Dead accompanied by images of guardsmen," Hawass said. (Related: "Ancient Semitic Snake Spells Deciphered in Egyptian Pyramid" [February 5, 2007].)

The book is a collection of mortuary texts consisting of spells and magic formulas used by ancient Egyptians.

On the eastern and western sides, figures representing time accompanied sacred texts and an image of a solar bark, a ship meant to ferry the dead into the afterlife.

Hawass said the discovery of the shaft leading to Menekhibnekau's burial chamber was accidental—just a hint of how much more there is to learn about the necropolis at Abu Sir.

Verner of the Czech Institute of Egyptology said the tomb will have be repaired and reconstructed, and will eventually open to the public.

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