A Ptolemaic tomb has been rediscovered and fully documented by Oxford-based team of archaeologists working at Elkab, Egypt.

During its last fieldwork season, the Oxford Epigraphic Expedition to Elkab, in southern Egypt, successfully rediscovered a Ptolemaic painted tomb. The tomb had originally discovered in the 19th century but its exact whereabouts had since become unknown.

Originally located by iconic archaeologist K.R. Lepsius (1810-1884) in 1844, the tomb had never been the subject of proper scientific investigation.

During its last fieldwork season, the Oxford Epigraphic Expedition to Elkab located the tomb in the Graeco-Roman sector of the main necropolis. According to a statement:

“Through its inscriptions, we can precisely date the tomb to the reign of King Ptolemy III (3rd century BC), at the time of the Greek rule of Egypt. Despite the fading of much of the tomb’s decoration, digital technologies have allowed us to record and study it in all its original beauty.”

Ptolemy III Euergetes (Πτολεμαῖος Εὐεργέτης, Ptolemaĩos Euergétēs was the third king of the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt from 246 to 222 BC. He maintained his father's foreign policy of subduing Macedonia by supporting its enemies. Ptolemy backed the Achaean League, a collaboration of Hellenic city-states, and enemies of Macedonia, but switched his support to Sparta when it came into conflict with the Achaean League and proved itself more apt to fighting the Macedonians. He continued his predecessor's work on Alexandria, especially in the Great Library. He had every book unloaded in the Alexandria docks seized, had copies made of each one, and gave the copies to the previous owners while the original copies were kept in the Library. It is said that he borrowed works of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides from Athens but decided to forfeit the considerable deposit he paid for them, keeping them for the Library rather than returning them. The Ptolemaic kingdom reached the height of its power during this reign.

A first description of the tomb along with a description of the Oxford Epigraphic Expedition’s research and documentation work there is available through Egyptian Archaeology 53 (2018): 4–12. Accessible via Academia.edu.