<p><strong>A painting on the wall of a newfound <a id="szz1" title="Egyptian" href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/egypt-guide/">Egyptian</a> tomb shows the occupant, Rudj-Ka (right), and his wife. Rudj-Ka probably lived during the end of ancient Egypt's 5th dynasty, roughly 4,350 years ago, archaeologists say (<a id="omso" title="ancient Egypt time line" href="http://www.nationalgeographic.com/pyramids/timeline.html">ancient Egypt time line</a>).</strong></p><p>Artwork and artifacts found in his elaborate tomb, found in and along a cliff near the Great Pyramids at <a id="k21n" title="Giza (map)" href="http://maps.nationalgeographic.com/maps/map-machine#s=r&amp;c=30.007273923504542, 31.209068298339844&amp;z=11">Giza (map)</a>, indicate Rudj-Ka was a priest in the mortuary cult of the 4th-dynasty pharaoh Khafra, who ruled from 2558 to 2532 B.C. Khafra is best known as the force behind the second of the three Great Pyramids and of the Great Sphinx. (Watch <a id="uags" title="video of the Great Pyramids at Giza" href="http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/player/places/countries-places/egypt/egypt-pyramids-dest.html">video of the Great Pyramids at Giza</a>.)</p><p>In the Old Kingdom, "after the death of the king, there was a pyramid city," said <a id="qeid" title="Zahi Hawass" href="http://www.drhawass.com/">Zahi Hawass</a>, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA). "In this pyramid city lived priests and people who maintained the cult of the king, to make the cult of the king living." (Take an <a id="ej7z" title="ancient Egypt quiz" href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/ancient-egypt-quiz/">ancient Egypt quiz</a>.)</p><p>Rudj-Ka appears to have been a priest charged with overseeing purification rituals performed in honor of the dead pharaoh.<br><br><em>—Andrew Bossone</em></p>

Rudj-Ka, the Purifier

A painting on the wall of a newfound Egyptian tomb shows the occupant, Rudj-Ka (right), and his wife. Rudj-Ka probably lived during the end of ancient Egypt's 5th dynasty, roughly 4,350 years ago, archaeologists say (ancient Egypt time line).

Artwork and artifacts found in his elaborate tomb, found in and along a cliff near the Great Pyramids at Giza (map), indicate Rudj-Ka was a priest in the mortuary cult of the 4th-dynasty pharaoh Khafra, who ruled from 2558 to 2532 B.C. Khafra is best known as the force behind the second of the three Great Pyramids and of the Great Sphinx. (Watch video of the Great Pyramids at Giza.)

In the Old Kingdom, "after the death of the king, there was a pyramid city," said Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA). "In this pyramid city lived priests and people who maintained the cult of the king, to make the cult of the king living." (Take an ancient Egypt quiz.)

Rudj-Ka appears to have been a priest charged with overseeing purification rituals performed in honor of the dead pharaoh.

—Andrew Bossone

Photograph by Meghan E. Strong, SCA

Pictures: Egypt Priest's Tomb Found Near Pyramids

Buried in a painted cliffside tomb, the "purification priest" Rudj-Ka likely lived about 4,350 years ago and served in a dead pharaoh's cult.

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