A Cairo University archaeological expedition working in Saqqara, some 20km south of Cairo, has uncovered a tomb belonging to Iwrkhy, the top military commander of the Pharaoh Ramses II, also known as Ramses the Great.
The discovery was announced in a speech delivered Egyptology Professor Ola al-Aguizi at the graduation ceremony of the 2017 class of Cairo University’s Faculty of Archaeology. Aguizi, who is head of the expedition that made the discovery, said that the tomb was found in the New Kingdom necropolis south of the Causeway of King Unas in Saqqara, during the last excavation season in 2017/2018.
She said that the tomb, which most likely dates to the times of Sethi I who reigned from around 1290 to 1279BC, and Ramses II whose reign lasted from 1279 to 1213, has yet to be fully excavated, but has already provided a wealth of material testifying to the high status of its owner and his family.
The tomb belongs to “General and High Steward of the estates of Ramses II in the Domain of Amun”. His name is inscribed on the tomb along with that of his son Yuppa and grandson Hatiay, the latter occupying a significant position in the inscriptions on the walls still in place.
Iwrkhy began his military career under King Sethi I and reached the highest position in the Egyptian under his son, the great Pharaoh Ramses II. The military commander’s tomb includes a forecourt, statue room with adjacent plastered vaulted storehouses, peristyle court and western chapels, Aguizi said.
The scenes that remain on the walls of the statue room and on blocks found buried in the sand show a number of unusual scenes, many related to Iwrkhy’s military career, and foreign relations with neighbouring countries. These include an image of moored boats unloading Canaanite wine jars.
One block shows an exceptional scene of an infantry unit and charioteers crossing a waterway with crocodiles. Preliminary studies of the scene determined that its fortified walls represent the eastern borders of Egypt.
The scene has only one parallel, depicted on the outer north wall of the hypostyle court of Karnak temple in Thebes. The scene shows Sethi I coming back from a victorious campaign against the Shasu Bedouins, entering Egypt by the same waterway with crocodiles.
Discoveries in the Saqqara tomb also show signs of active daily life in this garrison, including wine cellars and livestock depicted on the walls.
13 May 2018