Egypt to promote its tombs

Egypt, famous for its ancient tombs and the mystique that surrounds them, has said that it intends to open some of its tombs to tourists.

The nation is to showcase the tomb of Queen Meresankh III for visitors to explore.

The tourism industry in Egypt was destroyed by the recent uprisings, and the country is now making efforts to win back those lost tourists. By opening up the tombs to the public, the authorities are expecting to increase the number of visitors to the country, lured by the fascination and significance that the tombs hold in ancient Egypt.

Later this year, the tomb of Meresankh, which means ‘lover of life’, is to be opened to the public for the first time in nearly 25 years. In addition, five tombs of high priests, which have been buried under the desert sands for decades, will also be opened and available for public visits. The priests are said to have occupied high offices during the reign of the Egyptian pharaohs.

Meresankh’s tomb lies close to the Great Pyramid of her grandfather, the pharaoh Khufu, better known as Cheops. She met an untimely death and was placed in her own tomb. American archaeologist, George Reisner, who discovered the tomb, wrote of it, ‘Our eyes were first startled by the vivid colours of the reliefs and inscriptions around the northern part of this large chamber. None of us had ever seen anything like it.’

The authorities are also planning other similar moves to attract tourists. To the south of Cairo, the famous Serapeum at Sakkara, a massive underground temple where sacred bulls were thought to have been buried, is also to be opened to promote tourism.

Ali Asfar, director general of archaeology on the Giza plateau, said, ‘We want to give people a reason to come back, to give them something new.’