The tomb of a top ancient Egyptian physician, who treated royals, was discovered in the Abusir necropolis, a site of excavations just 25 kilometres south of Cairo. A Czech archaeological mission unearthed the limestone tomb last week, confirming through press interviews and on its Facebook page that the tomb does indeed belong to the head of the physicians of the north and south of Egypt some 4,400 years ago.
Shepseskaf-Ankh, which translates to “Shepseskaf is living,” was associated with royalty, including a ruler of Egypt named Niuserre. The same site, which shelters the remains of 14 pyramids, served as the resting place of two other physicians from the fifth dynasty, as well as Old Kingdom rulers and a number of high temple priests close to the kings.
The architecture of the tomb, and its size, stretching across 21 by 14 meters and rising up 4 meters in height as well as housing an open court and eight burial chambers, gives away the high and noble status of the chief physician—who is believed to come from an elite Egyptian family, according to Ali Al-Asfar, deputy head of the ancient Egyptian section of the Ministry of State of Antiquities.
In one section of the tomb, a false door carries some of the ancient doctor’s prestigious titles, including Priest of Ra—the sun god—and Priest of Magic.
Miroslav Bárta, director of the archaeological team from the Czech Institute of Egyptology, told the National Geographic that he is pleased with the historical details contained in the tomb. “This microcosmos illustrates general trends that ruled the society of the day,” he said. “This is exactly the moment when the empire starts to break down due to rising expenses and increasing independence of powerful families.”