Monday, March 28, 2022

Netflix Picks: Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb

I was a nerd as a child. I think I actually still am. One of the things that I used to nerd on about, apart from Greek mythology, was anything to do with Ancient Egypt. I used to dream of being an anthropologist and archaeologist so I could learn more about these things when I grew up. While that never happened, I still carry that fascination with history with me now that I’m older and read up on it or watch documentaries related to it as a hobby. One of those documentaries is Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb on Netflix. 

I remember watching the news on the Saqqara tomb online when they opened the casket that was discovered there. Later on, when I found out that Netflix had a documentary about the discovery, I knew I had to watch it!

The documentary tells the story of how in 2018, archaeologists discovered an untouched tomb from the 25th century (BC). In the same area, they found adjacent tombs that had well-preserved mummies, along with some mummified animals. This main tomb was later on discovered to be that of an Egyptian high priest named Wahtye and his family.  

The film interviews the various people involved in the site during the discovery. I think this is the first documentary that I’ve seen involving a dig that did not have any white people involved or in charge. It was quite refreshing to see that the Egyptians were doing this on their own. I saw the sense of pride and respect each worker had for the history that was involved in their work. This was about their story and they were happy to be a part of uncovering it. 

I loved how the whole thing was put together and how it presented the facts of the dig to the audience without making it too boring. As a nerd about these things, however, I was half-expecting Zahi Hawass to make an appearance since he is almost always featured in films like this. I later discovered that he was already 74 years old, so I guess maybe he retired or doesn’t join digs as much as he used to. 

The discovery of the Saqqara tomb is extraordinary in the way that everything about it was an undiscovered territory. The tomb was well-preserved, which meant that everything in it was free for the archaeologists to study, as opposed to many tombs that have been discovered and raided by robbers through the years.

It was amazing to see the process involved in the expedition. I admire the people working on these digs because the work involves a lot of patience and attention to detail. Considering that everything has to be done manually and you have to be extra careful with every little item, it made me realize that I probably would not survive as an archaeologist. I would get sick from the extreme heat that these people have to go through and all the dust they have to endure. 

I thought that it was sad to discover how the story of Wahtye and his family was unveiled: from what they could gather everyone died at the same time due to some disease. Such a tragedy. At the same time though it was inspiring to see how this was discovered just by studying the tomb and every detail in it, including the bones of the dead.

The way I see it, there is more to be discovered at Saqqara if they continued their work after the documentary ended. I hope that they have learned more about the area and that they found more tombs to learn from. All that history and culture is a wealth of information that we can all learn from and I can’t wait to hear more about their progress. 

If you are a history buff and Ancient Egypt fan like me, you might like this documentary. It’s worth the time watching it!


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