It only took 80 years, but this ancient Egyptian tomb is finally open to the public. Located in the Saqqara necropolis, a burial ground south of Cairo, this historic site is the final resting place of a high-ranking Egyptian official called Mehu, his son Mery Re Ankh, and his grandson Hetep Kha II.
The tomb and its ornate, vibrant wall paintings and hieroglyphs depict scenes of hunting, fishing, harvesting, cooking, and dancing, shedding light on how Egyptians lived nearly a thousand years before the pyramids were built. One particular painting even shows two crocodiles getting married. The tomb is thought to be one of the most beautiful in the Saqqara necropolis.
While it was first discovered in 1940 by Egyptologist Zaki Saad, the tomb has been closed to the public until the completion of extensive renovations. Colors in the wall paintings were strengthened and a lighting system was installed, all to enhance the visitor experience.
The tomb’s grand opening also comes amid other new discoveries in Egypt, including the recent uncovering of a sandstone sphinx in Aswan. The sphinx was found in the Temple of Kom Ombo during some preservation work, and it’s believed to date all the way back to the Ptolemaic dynasty, between 320 BC to 30 BC.
Although Egypt’s tourism industry is still recovering from the Arab Spring upheaval of 2011, the country hopes that making ancient sites more accessible will spark the return of visitors. Encouragingly, according to the the United Nations’ 2018 Tourism Highlights Report, Egypt was the world’s fastest growing tourism destination with 55.1 percent growth in 2017.