CAIRO Dutch archaeologists have discovered the tomb of the Pharaoh Akhenaten's seal bearer, decorated with paintings including scenes of monkeys picking and eating fruit, Egyptian antiquities officials said on Wednesday.
The tomb belonged to the official named Ptahemwi and was discovered during a Dutch team's excavation in the Sakkara area, the burial ground for the city of Memphis, the state news agency MENA said, quoting chief antiquities official Zahi Hawass.
Akhenaten, the 18th-dynasty pharaoh who ruled Egypt from 1379 to 1362 BC, abandoned most of the old gods and tried to imposed a monotheistic religion based on worship of the Aten, the disc of the sun.
He built a new capital called Akhetaten at Tell el-Amarna, 250 km (160 miles) south of Cairo, and the find shows that high officials continued to build their tombs in Memphis near Cairo.
"It is one of the most important finds in the Sakkara area because it goes back to the Akhenaten period," MENA quoted Hawass as saying.
Officials said the tomb had limestone walls with paintings of scenes from daily life and of Ptahemwi receiving offerings, MENA reported.
"Some of the funniest scenes ... are those of a number of monkeys picking and eating fruit," said Osama el-Sheemi, head of Sakkara antiquities, quoted by MENA.
The Dutch team has been working in Sakkara since the 1990s to find tombs dating from the New Kingdom. They had previously found the tomb of an Akhenaten-era priest.