Image: Astrological scenes
Courtesy of Supreme Council of A
By
updated 9/17/2010 12:34:42 PM ET 2010-09-17T16:34:42

Brightly painted astrological scenes have emerged on the ceiling of an ancient Egyptian tomb, according to a statement released on Wednesday by the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

The scenes, which include a depiction of the sky goddess Nut, have been found in the burial chamber of a Nubian priest in the el-Asasif area on the west bank of Luxor.

"The chamber was found at the bottom of an eight meter deep burial shaft,” Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), said.

The room is in very good condition and contains beautiful painted scenes in vivid colors. Blue and yellow dominate the ceiling, as the goddess Nut welcomes with raised arms the body of the deceased.

Named Karakhamun was a priest who lived during the 25th dynasty (755-656 B.C.). His tomb, known as TT223, was first discovered in the 19th century, but then it collapsed and disappeared under the desert sands.

It was rediscovered by an Egyptian-American expedition in 2006. In addition to the tomb of Karakhamun, the team is also working on two other neglected Nubian tombs nearby: the tomb of Karabasken, the Mayor of Thebes, and the tomb of Irtieru, the Chief Attendant to the Divine Consort of Amun, Nitocris.

Described by 19th-century travelers as some of the most beautiful Theban tombs, the burials were wrongly believed to have been completely destroyed. In fact, they were all rediscovered four years ago.

“Their painted ceiling, stunning relief, and elegant architecture are not obliterated, merely hidden beneath layers of soot, veiled by dust and cobwebs, and blocked by piles of debris,”  team leader Elena Pischikova, director of the South Asasif Conservation Project (ACP), wrote on the project’s website.

According to Pischikova, Karakhamun’s tomb is possibly the largest in the necropolis. However, when the ACP team found the burial, it was barely visible and totally inaccessible. Almost hidden beneath the sand, the only trace of its location was a blackened crack in the bedrock.

“Some days of tedious digging soon yielded much more than we could have hoped for — a wall of carving, almost completely intact, with a life size figure of Karakhamun in front of an offering table,” Pischikova said.

Little is known of the priest, who remains the most enigmatic figure in the necropolis. Karakhamun did not appear to hold any important administrative position and his priestly title wasn’t particularly important.

Yet his tomb, featuring two pillared halls, paintings and exquisite relief carvings, was one of the most beautiful in the necropolis.

According to the ACP researchers, “he must have had close connections to the royal court or the royal family itself.”

"Further exploration of the tomb must shed more light on its date and the identity of Karakhamun himself," the archaeologists wrote.

© 2012 Discovery Channel

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