September 10, 2018 12:48 pm

Inside the 4,000-year-old Egyptian tomb now open to the public

WATCH ABOVE: Egypt is allowing the public to visit a 4000-year old tomb in the Saqqara necropolis near Giza in a bid to promote tourism

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Egypt has opened the doors of an ornate 4,000-year-old tomb to the public, in an effort to convince tourists that the country is safe for visitors.

The Tomb of Mehu, in the Saqqara necropolis near Giza, features dozens of vibrant paintings from Egypt’s sixth dynasty, dating back approximately four millennia. The Egyptian government opened the tomb to visitors on Saturday.

A view of a chamber of the tomb of Mehu, after it was opened for tourists at Saqqara area, Giza, Egypt, Sept. 8, 2018.

EPA/KHALED ELFIQI

Mehu, a top official under King Pepi I, is buried in the tomb, along with his son, Meren Ra, and grandson Heteb Kha, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities.

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“He was a vizier, the chief of the judges and the director of the palace at the time of King Pepi, the first king of the sixth dynasty,” archeologist and Egyptologist Zahi Hawass told Reuters on Saturday.

A view of a chamber of the tomb of Mehu, after it was opened for tourists at Saqqara area, Giza, Egypt, Sept. 8, 2018.

EPA/KHALED ELFIQI

The tomb includes two chambers with wall inscriptions that depict Mehu hunting, gathering a bountiful harvest and dancing acrobatically.

A view of a chamber of the tomb of Mehu, after it was opened for tourists at Saqqara area, Giza, Egypt, Sept. 8, 2018.

EPA/KHALED ELFIQI

It also lists Mehu’s 48 titles as pictures on the walls.

A view of a chamber of the tomb of Mehu, after it was opened for tourists at Saqqara area, Giza, Egypt, Sept. 8, 2018.

EPA/KHALED ELFIQI

Hawass says the tomb contains several unique images from the sixth dynasty, including a portrait of two crocodiles getting married.

Two crocodiles are shown at the bottom of the frame in this image from the tomb of Mehu near Egypt’s Saqqara necropolis, in Giza.

REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Hieroglyphics are shown on the walls of the tomb of Mehu near the Saqqara necropolis in Giza, Egypt, on Sept. 8, 2018.

REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

The Tomb of Mehu was first discovered by Egyptologist Zaki Saad in 1940, but remained off-limits to the public until this month.

A wall of a chamber of the tomb of Mehu is seen after it was opened for the public at Saqqara area near Egypt’s Saqqara necropolis, in Giza, Egypt Sept. 8, 2018.

REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Egypt opened the tomb up to the public as part of a larger effort to attract tourists to the region, according to Khaled El Anany, Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities.

“We opened this previously discovered tomb to invite ambassadors and show the media that Egypt is safe,” he told Reuters in Arabic.

People wait outside one of the chambers of the tomb of Mehu, after it was opened for tourists at Saqqara area, Giza, Egypt, Sept. 8, 2018.

EPA/KHALED ELFIQI

Visitors lined up to get a first glimpse of the tomb on Saturday.

A photographer shoots inside one of the chambers of the tomb of Mehu, after it was opened for tourists at Saqqara area, Giza, Egypt, Sept. 8, 2018.

EPA/KHALED ELFIQI

Tourists pose for a photo at a chamber of the tomb of Mehu after it was opened for the public at Saqqara area near Egypt’s Saqqara necropolis, in Giza Egypt Sept. 8, 2018.

REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Egypt’s tourism industry has struggled in the wake of the Arab Spring uprising in 2011, which was followed by a string of terrorist incidents. The country dipped from 14 million international tourist arrivals in 2010 to 5.3 million arrivals in 2016, according to statistics from the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

Egypt’s tourism numbers rebounded in 2017, when they jumped up to 8.2 million foreign tourist arrivals, the UNWTO data shows.

Tourists are shown on their way to one of the chambers of the tomb of Mehu, after it was opened for tourists at Saqqara area, Giza, Egypt, Sept 8, 2018.

EPA/KHALED ELFIQI

Egypt was the top Middle-East destination for tourists in 2010, but has since been eclipsed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The two countries each welcomed approximately 16 million visitors last year, the UNWTO says.

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Archeologists have found several high-profile sites in Egypt recently, including a massive, sealed sarcophagus, an ancient village and a giant statue of Ramses II.

The Canadian government recommends avoiding all non-essential travel to Egypt “due to the unpredictable security situation.” It also recommends avoiding all travel to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, the Western desert, the Libyan border area and the Ismailia and Suez region.

The United States says visitors should “exercise increased caution in Egypt due to terrorism. Some areas have increased risk.”

— With files from Reuters and The Associated Press

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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