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Egypt Dispatch Part III The Newest Burial Chamber

Date: December 14, 2023 | By: Ashish Sanghrajka | Category: Travel Blog

A Mineshaft and Rope


As I begin part III of our Egypt dispatch, I think back to a conversation I had about 15 years ago. Before I explain further, I want to tell you about my first visit to Egypt as a teen. I was a math nerd in school, so as I walked through the different sights, all I could see were geometric shapes and protractor angles. I know, I know… you are likely wondering who still says protractor. It’s true, I saw nothing but angles, obtuse and acute, and even a few right angles. Never in a million years did I think 30 years later, I would be writing about this. Something else happened on that visit, however.  I felt a connection to Egypt that was either driven by my unhealthy obsession with Indiana Jones or by this sense of discovery and rewriting history, challenging what we thought was true.


Now, let me fast forward to 15 years later…, In the Valley of the Kings, access to private tombs was the norm, with the fees set arbitrarily, usually by one person who happens to be well known. One of the challenges Egypt faces is the invisibility of the local excavators and archaeologists, the ones making the actual discoveries, not the media rounds. These workers are doing the most important work, and Big Five is committed to creating fair wage jobs in archaeology for them where the fees paid to open a tomb go towards paying the salaries of these local workers instead of into one person’s pocket or an external organization.  I had frequent conversations with our Egypt country manager, himself an archaeologist by degree, about getting access to the newest finds and sharing any articles and videos when news broke about a new excavation or a discovery of a new tomb.

These conversations have become more frequent in recent years because archaeology is the central driver of tourism to Egypt, it is the best form of PR there could be. New discoveries are at an all-time high, averaging two discoveries a decade in the early 20th century to averaging six a year since 2018. I wanted to harness this while lifting the local excavation teams and archaeologists who were making these discoveries. This vision started to take shape during the pandemic when Netflix showcased the amazing documentary The Secret Tomb of Saqqara, which showcased a tomb found in 2018. When we realized the same crew who was taking the viewers through in the documentary would be our guides, I was overjoyed. It was where I got to meet the lead archaeologists and have them explain what they saw. It fueled my interest in getting access to more of the undiscovered.


Fast forward to 2023, and this vision is finally taking shape, as you will see in the latest video. We were dropped down a mine shaft to a mummy chamber that was just discovered in Saqqara two months ago. Thirty meters above us, the excavation work carried on, and down below, the lead archaeologist, Dr. Mohammed, showed us around with a light telling us what they found when they first entered. This was the ultimate storytelling experience, and it was exactly what I had in mind. Best part is that we support the jobs of close to 50 workers with one visit and made a commitment to continue doing the same as the next chapter in our sustainable commitment in Egypt.


Enoy the video!

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