Ola El Aguizy is an Egyptian Egyptologist and Emeritus Professor at the University of Cairo. She is an expert in Demotic with several publications to her name. Since 2005 she has led excavations at Saqqara, uncovering the tombs of several notable figures connected to Ramesses II. Since 2005, she has led Cairo University’s excavations at Saqqara.
Her work has been prolific enough to be covered in the National Geographic documentary series Lost Treasures of Egypt. It is the dream of every archaeologist to make a significant discovery that tells us a great deal about our past. Professor Ola El Aguizy has realised this dream several times in Egypt. However, her latest find is so huge that it is being hailed as a ‘dream discovery’ by experts and other archaeologists.
In 2021, Ola’s team found the tomb of Ptah-M-Wia, who experts say ran the treasury of Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses I. This year, she has found discovered a sarcophagus in the same tomb after being winched in a bucket down a 8m deep shaft. Speaking to The Observer about her significant discovery, Ola said: “The discovery of this sarcophagus in its original place in the burial shaft was very exciting because it is the sarcophagus of the owner of the tomb, which is not always the case”.
She told the hieroglyphs in the tomb laid out Ptah-em-wia’s closeness to Pharaoh Ramses II, more commonly known as Ramses the Great. The sarcophagus bears the images of a series of Ancient Egyptian gods. The intial studies are over but the sarcophagus will be further analysed and studied in fine details to uncover more details about it’s occupant. Mostafa Waziry, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said Ptahemwia holds several titles, including the royal scribe, the great overseer of the cattle in the temple of Ramses II, the head of the treasury, and the one responsible for the offerings of all gods of Lower and Upper Egypt.
Waziri said the entrance to the shaft of the tomb at the centre of the peristyle court measured 2.2 X 2.1 m. The subterranean burial chamber opened on the west side of the shaft at the depth of 7 m. It led to a square room measuring 4.2 X 4.5 m, leading to two other rooms on the western and the southern sides. These two rooms were completely empty. In the main room, he added, a cut in the floor on the north side was noticed, leading to stairs that led to the burial chamber proper which measured 4.6 X 3.7 m.
El-Aguizy explained that the sarcophagus was uncovered in the west side of the burial chamber. It was directed south-north with an anthropoid lid showing the facial features of the deceased with crossed arms on the chest holding the Djed symbol of the deity Osiris and the Tyet symbol of the goddess Isis. The sarcophagus is decorated with the usual inscriptions found on New Kingdom sarcophagi, with the bearded head of the owner, the sky-goddess Nut seated on the chest extending her wings.
Engraved on the lid and body of the sarcophagus are the name of Ptahemwia and his titles, representations of the four sons of Horus, and the prayers accompanying them all around the body of the sarcophagus. “The lid of the sarcophagus was broken diagonally, and the missing part was found in the corner of the chamber. It has been restored to its original position. The sarcophagus was empty except for some residue of tar from the mummification on the bottom of the sarcophagus,” El-Aguizy pointed out.