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Ministry of Antiquities, Egypt.

Sarcophagus of Egyptian High Priest Unearthed with Hieroglyphic Inscriptions and Scenes of Offerings


The sarcophagus of a high priest of the ancient Egyptian god Amun Ra has been unearthed in Egypt. The well preserved sarcophagus, discovered by a team of archaeologists within the 3,400-year-old tomb of a Vizier of Eypgt, contains hieroglyphic inscriptions and depicts offerings to deities.

The sarcophagus itself belonged to Ankh-f-n-khonsu (Ankh-ef-en-Khonsu), high priest of the deity Amun Ra, “King of the Gods”. The coffin was located in the tomb of Amenhotep-Huy, High official, or Vizier of Ancient Egypt during the reign of Amenhotep III.

Amun Ra, ancient Eygyptian god, King of the gods and god of the wind.

Amun Ra, ancient Eygyptian god, King of the gods and god of the wind. (CC BY 3.0)

The sarcophagus dates between 943 and 716 BC. The tomb it was found in, however, dates to between 1391 and 1353 BC, meaning the tomb was opened and reused more than 500 years after it was constructed.

Egyptian Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al Damaty announced the discovery yesterday, reports The Cairo Post. The Spanish Archaeological Mission of the Institute of Ancient Egypt found the coffin inside a pit covered with stones.

The sarcophagus in situ. Credit: Ministry of Antiquities, Egypt.

The sarcophagus in situ. Credit: Ministry of Antiquities, Egypt.

Coffin Hidden Among the Stones

Sultan Eid, Director of Upper Egypt Antiquities said in a recent statement, “The sarcophagus is made of wood and covered with a layer of plaster. It represents the deceased wearing a wig and crown with flowers and colorful ribbons along with ceremonial beard and a necklace adorning his chest.”

According to news site ANSAmed, hieroglyphic inscriptions have been found on the sarcophagus, as well as depictions of Ankh-f-n-khonsu making offerings to Anubis and Hathor. As well, the carved figure’s crossed hands are thought to hold two papyrus stems.

“The Stele of Revealing.” A funerary tablet of Ankh-af-na-khonsu, a 26th dynasty (apx. 725 BC) Theban priest.

“The Stele of Revealing.” A funerary tablet of Ankh-af-na-khonsu, a 26th dynasty (apx. 725 BC) Theban priest. Ankh-ef-en-Khonsu is the figure standing on the right. (Public Domain)

Amenhotep-Huy and the Theban Necropolis

The tomb of Amenhotep-Huy at Qurnet Marei, within the Theban Necropolis, was discovered in 1978, and is famous for its spectacular wall paintings. It holds a court and a burial chamber.

Amenhotep, called Huy, was vizier and a viceroy of Nubia. The Lower Nubian Kush was a province of Egypt from the 16th century BC to 11th century BC. During this period, it was ruled by a viceroy who reported directly to the Egyptian Pharaoh. 

Aly El-Asfar, head of the central administration of Upper Egypt, told Ahram Online last year,

“The images depict figures painted in Nubian attire walking behind a chariot driven by a light brown figure, a black rider painted in traditional Nubian garb, and pulled by a cow. Walking before the chariot are more Nubian figure. Hunting scenes similar to those found in Tutankhamun’s tomb are also depicted on walls as well as scenes showing Huy being greeted by high priests and among his family.”

Amenhotep Huy stands before Tutankhamen

Amenhotep Huy stands before Tutankhamen (Public Domain)

Other scenes in the tomb feature female dancers and musicians.

The Theban Necropolis, on the west bank of the Nile River, was used for ritual burials for many elites – nobles, high officials and Pharaohs starting from the New Kingdom Period (1580 – 1080 BC) and continuing for over a thousand years.

Aerial view of the Theban Necropolis, Egypt.

Aerial view of the Theban Necropolis, Egypt. (CC BY 3.0)

According to a press release, the announcement of the discovery of the sarcophagus was made as the Antiquities Minister was visiting Luxor to begin scanning works within Tutankhamun’s tomb in search of a hidden chamber behind its walls.

Between recent claims by an Egyptologist asserting that a mummy found a century ago is really Nefertiti, and the upcoming revelations about possible hidden chambers within tombs and pyramids, it’s a significant time for archaeology and discovery in Egypt.

Featured Image: Credit: Ministry of Antiquities, Egypt.

By: Liz Leafloor     



Liz Leafloor is former Art Director for Ancient Origins Magazine. She has a background as an Editor, Writer, and Graphic Designer. Having worked in news and online media for years, Liz covers exciting and interesting topics like ancient myth, history,... Read More

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