The new docu-feature “Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb” will premiere on Netflix on October 28th and documents the discovery of a “one of a kind” tomb that came to life beneath the sand at the archaeological site Saqqara in Egypt. Directed by James Tovell, the documentary films a team of local archaeologists excavating never before explored passageways, shafts, and tombs, piecing together the secrets of Egypt’s most significant find in almost 50 years.
Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb follows the decoding of the tomb of an Old Kingdom priest Wahtye, unopened for 4500 years, and the excavation of five shafts to uncover an astonishing ancient mystery. Transporting the audience back through the millennia, the film provides a unique and unprecedented window into the lives – and deaths – of one man and his family.
Described as a ‘once in a generation’ find, Wahtye’s tomb was discovered in a remarkable state of preservation – with 55 statues carved into the walls – making it the most decorated tomb ever found in this royal cemetery. During the journey of discovery, they have found over three thousand artefacts. Within the boundaries of a temple dedicated to the Egyptian cat goddess Bastet, the team discovered a mummified lion cub – the first lion cub discovered in Egypt. It signals a thrilling first in Egyptology.
“This has been an exciting moment for the whole world. Shooting this film has been an experience full of thrilling surprises. Working with an Egyptian team that has a deep connection with their ancestors has made the project even more unique,” commented James Tovell, Director of Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb. “This mission wasn’t like any other. Normally in archaeology, you labor for weeks to find anything. Here every 30 seconds there was a new jaw-dropping discovery. Such as, capturing on film the discovery of the first complete mummified lion cub in Egypt was a great moment for everyone. And then being privileged to excavate the burial shafts of the Old Kingdom priest Wahtye. The chance to excavate an Old Kingdom burial is a golden opportunity for any filmmaker,” added Tovell.
The documentary was filmed in Saqqara near Cairo, and less than a mile from the site of the Step Pyramid, one of the oldest and most iconic stone structures on earth. The documentary will be released globally in 190 countries with over 30 subs and dubbed into English.
The documentary was inspired by the discovery of a 4500-year-old tomb – the news made global headlines when it was discovered in late 2018 – and belongs to an Old Kingdom Priest named Wahtye, from the 5th dynasty, 2500-2350 BC, in the reign of Pharaoh Neferirkare.