Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb review – hidden depths in ancient Egypt

This fascinating documentary about extraordinary finds makes a clear statement about the reclamation of Egypt’s heritage

The “secrets” here are in fact well known, having made headline news across the world in 2019: the discovery in the Saqqara necropolis, just outside Cairo, of scores of mummified animals, including a lion cub, and an untouched tomb from the 25th century BC. But what makes this an exceptional documentary is the focus on the entirely Egyptian archaeological team, doing their bit in a quiet way to decolonise Egyptology and to demonstrate the emotional connection between the locals and the ancient civilisation they are unearthing.

In truth, excavating the pharaonic monuments has always been a multinational affair, with dig teams from all over the world pitching in. But the dominant images of British chaps in pith helmets or the Indiana Jones-style maverick are hard to dispel; this film’s aim, apart from simple wonderment at what the excavators find, is to assert Egyptian ownership of the country’s heritage and history.

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