The tomb of a powerful vizier who governed Ancient Egypt 4,300 years ago was on Saturday opened to the public for the first time since its discovery.
The sepulcher of Mehu, located near the pyramids of the Saqqara Necropolis some 27 kilometers (17 miles) to the south of Cairo, boasts vividly-colored frescoes, stunning bas-reliefs and fascinating hieroglyphic script adorning the wall.
"It is one of the most beautiful and complex tombs from the Old Kingdom," said Mustafa Waziri, secretary-general of Egypt's Supreme Council for Antiquities, in a press briefing.
Discovered in 1940, the mastaba – a technical term for the flat-roofed tombs of the period, meaning "house for eternity" – sits near the step pyramid of Djoser, considered the world's oldest standing stone monument, and the ruins of the Unas pyramid.
Mehu was the highest official serving Pharaoh Pepy I Meryre – who reigned between the years 2332-2287 BC – at a time when the title of vizier was bestowed with wide-sweeping powers, including heading the royal palace staff and being the highest judge in the realm.
According to renowned Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, Mehu's tomb is unique and extremely valuable to researchers, since it proves that the god Khenti-Amentiu, a jackal-headed deity connected to the afterlife, was also venerated in the Nile Delta and not only in Upper Egypt, as archaeologists had previously believed.
Hawass added that the tomb's hieroglyphs show Mehu had a "personal connection" to the god, a fact that further underscores the vizier's considerable power and influence at the time of his death.
The tomb's vast dimensions add to that sense of importance: it spans four sumptuously-decorated chambers covering 500 square meters (5,400 square feet) and features an expansive open-air courtyard.
Waziri explained that the fact that Mehu's son and grandson were also buried in the same complex attests the vizier's privileged position, with his tomb being akin to a royal mausoleum.
"This is something great for tourism. It will attract people from all over the world," Hawass said in his speech to ambassadors, archaeologists and journalists attending the presentation.