How old is this tomb? From what period?
The tomb is from the last quarter of the sixth century around 525 and 520 BC.
Listen to an interview with Ladislav Bareš from the Czech Institute of Egyptology
According to the photos you took during the discovery, the burial chamber is very decorated. What did you see there?
The burial chamber is decorated according to the common custom of the time for an important dignitary, even if the person was, say, a middle-ranking official.
But he wanted to have everything important in his burial chamber – texts that would facilitate his transition from this world to the underworld and guarantee him a blissful existence there. They are almost exclusively religious texts.
However, the names of his parents and, for example, a set of rhymes against the danger of snakes also appear there. This was to prevent the snakes in the other world from harming him in the same way that the snakes in Egypt could harm people in this world.
Jand how important a discovery is it for your team? How will it help you in your research?
It is a recent discovery, so it is still a bit early to assess its definitive significance. It is another tomb in Abusir that belongs to this specific period. We already have several.
But what is contained in them is literally a time preserve from the time of one generation around the year 525. It tells about what people lived with at that time, what is, what weighed them down, because that was the time of great social changes, when Egypt in 525 conquered by the Persian Empire.
In their own way, they solved similar problems as we solve: the clash of different cultures, migration or different forms of adaptation, and the like.
You found a sarcophagus in the tomb, but it was otherwise empty. Did someone steal it?
Yes, that tomb was ransacked. It appears that all the tombs at Abusir were looted sometime in the late fifth or sixth century AD. With the sole exception of the tomb of priest Iufay, which we found almost 30 years ago.
We have already said that this is the tomb of a young royal scribe who died very young. What else do we know about him? Maybe about his health. How come he had back problems?
From the Egyptian point of view, he was not quite so young. He was about 25 years old when he died, so he could have been a typist for ten years.
The scribal craft in ancient Egypt usually took place in a sitting position – they actually wrote on their knees, so the back and especially the spine suffered a lot. His spine was worn out like some of the other tomb owners who were in Abusir. Maybe it was not only the profession, but also the problems that were in the family.
What is the experience of going back 2500 years while you are there?
The experience is always beautiful. Even at the age of 70, it is still something new and beautiful to me.
Hanka Šánělová, fos
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