Secrets Of the Saqqara Tomb (2020) – Movie Review

A Fascinating Deep Dive Into Archeology

Back in 2018, Egyptian excavators uncovered one of the most important finds in Egyptian history. A preserved tomb, untouched for over 4400 years, acted as the archeological equivalent of winning the lottery. Following several different members of the team on-site as they uncover incredible finds, Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb is an educational, fascinating deep dive into archeology and Egyptian history.

Serving as a fly-on-the-wall documentary, this 2 hour movie begins with a brief introduction to the finding of Wahtye’s tomb. With Ramadan fast approaching in 6 weeks, the team needing to uncover more finds before it’s too late; the race is on to uncover what’s hidden beneath the dry, choked sand.

While some of the documentary is a little melodramatic, with wisps of orchestral music drowning out the narration. When the movie settles down, this documentary really comes into its own. Seeing these men and women at work, using trowels, brushes and hoes, really shows the sheer amount of work that goes into finding these rare artefacts and you get a sense of uncovering these finds right along with them thanks to some extreme close-up shots.

Midway through the movie a sarcophagus is uncovered and what’s inside had me audibly gasp. This is probably the closest you’ll get to seeing archeologists at work outside visiting one of these sites in Egypt. Having been inside the Great Pyramid myself, the sense of wonder and awe is unfathomable and difficult to translate onto the small screen. However, Secrets Of the Saqqara Tomb does go some way to try and replicate that wonder.

Alongside these segments are various animated cutaways, using hieroglyphics and Egyptian drawings to depict different parts of this ancient civilization’s culture. From Osiris judging the dead using his infamous scale to the significance of cats, there’s a innate desire to educate and entertain in equal measure.

There’s even some slick diagrams showing an isometric view for Wahtye’s tomb and various artefacts the team have uncovered too.

Along the way, there’s various different people interviewed who give their insight into what’s going on. Enthusiastic historian Salima and worker Ghareeb are two such examples, speaking passionately about the art of excavating. The latter even has a big discovery of his own, but it’s a pretty harrowing find to say the least.

Each of these interviews serve a specific purpose and interestingly, the people chosen all have a different role in the field. From the workers and historians to forensic anthropologists, there’s a lot of different moving parts to this operation and you’ll undoubtedly learn a lot about these different fields of expertise.

If you’re interested in Egyptian culture or fascinated by archeology, Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb is a must-watch documentary.


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2 thoughts on “Secrets Of the Saqqara Tomb (2020) – Movie Review”

  1. I’m not a professional archaeologist but I totally agree with the previous comment. It’s great that the team was entirely Egyptian, but the whole project seemed to be somewhat haphazard. Hacking away at the cliff face with trowels, rushing to complete the excavation before Ramadan, Etc. And when the sarcophagus was removed, carried by half-a-dozen Egyptians down a slope, I half expected it to go crashing to the ground! And how can they almost nonchalantly open up the sarcophagus in broad daylight with the wind and sand blowing around. However, it was I admit a pretty incredible find.

  2. As a professional archaeologist myself, I couldn’t help but cringe at the unprofessionalism of the ‘archaeologists’ at work at the Saqqara site. They seemed to be just trophy seekers, tomb robbers, rather than true archaeologists. When excavating such a significant site it should be undertaken in a forensic manner with continual recording of all features and finds exposed. The only recording I could see gong on was the taking of photos using mobile phones! Shocking.

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