Tunnel for Ancient Egyptian Ruler Found

The 570-foot-long tunnel for Seti I was left unfinished and may have been designed to house a secret tomb.

THE GIST:

- It took archaeologists three years to excavate the 570-foot tunnel.

- The tunnel was decorated with preliminary sketches and had instructions inscribed for workers.

After a 23-year effort, archaeologists have uncovered a secret tunnel in the tomb of Seti I, who ruled Egypt more than 3,000 years ago, the culture minister said on Wednesday.

The Egyptian team, headed by antiquities chief Zahi Hawass, had been "searching for this tunnel for over twenty years in the West Bank necropolis" of Luxor, south Egypt, Faruq Hosni said in a statement.

Hawass said it then took three years to excavate the 174 meter-long (570-foot) tunnel, in which archaeologists found shards of pottery and fragments of statuettes.

The tunnel was painted with preliminary sketches for decorations and instructions from the architect to workmen carving out the tunnel, Hawass said.

"Move the door jamb up and make the passage wider," read the inscription on a false door, Hawass said.

"It appears that Seti I was trying to construct a secret tomb inside a tomb," Hawass said. Hawass speculated that the tunnel and the secret tomb were not finished because of the pharaoh's death, but may have inspired a similar construction in Ramses II's tomb.

Seti I was one of ancient Egypt's greatest rulers and a formidable military commander from the 19th dynasty. His tomb in the Valley of the Kings is the largest ever discovered, but archeologists have yet to tap all its mysteries.

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