During the Old, Middle and New Kingdom, a Vizier was the highest-ranking official to serve the pharaoh, supervising the running of the country like a Prime Minister today. In the early Nineties, among the rocks of Deir el-Bahari, explorers discovered the Theban Tomb overlooking the funerary complex of Mentuhotep II, on the west bank of the River Nile. It contained a great courtyard, a corridor, a chapel and a burial chamber, believed to belong to the Vizier Ipi.
Tony Robinson explained during his Channel 5 show “Opening Egypt’s Great Tomb” how the tomb was uncovered.
He said last month: “Just across the river from Luxor lies the famous Valley Of The Kings where Rameses (Pharaoh of the 20th Dynasty) was buried.
“His mummy was discovered in 1881.
“One of the few pharaohs whose body has survived largely intact.
“But the valley next door is also chock full of big tombs.
“One of which is being explored for the first time since 1921.”
Mr Robinson explained how archaeologists are still making remarkable finds.
He added: “Antonio Morales heads an international team working on the tomb of Ipi.
“Some 700 years before the times of Ramses, Ipi held the exotic title of Vizier to the Pharaoh.
“As Prime Minister, Ipi’s tomb reflects his status – it is huge.
“The last time archaeologists were here was nearly 100 years ago.
“They spend just a few days in this tomb, and there’s plenty they didn’t find.”
However, Mr Robinson revealed how the body of Ipi has never been recovered.
He continued: “This is a surprise – suddenly it plunges away – the tomb extends 40 metres into the mountain and 20 metres down.
“After the day of Ipi’s funeral, no one was supposed to go where we are now – his burial chamber.
“This giant stone sarcophagus would once have contained Ipi’s mummy.
“But we know very little about him, beyond his name, as his mummy went missing 4,000 years ago.”
It’s far from the most bizarre discovery about ancient Egypt, though.
For instance, researchers now know that the Great Pyramid of Giza was once a completely different colour.
The Diary of Merer detailed how the pyramids have changed over time, by revealing the use of Tura limestone.
These white, shiny and highly precious stones were then added as the final layer to a pyramid featuring some six million tonnes of rock underneath.
They were highly polished, meaning they would reflect the Sun’s rays and become a prominent feature from miles away.
However, in the 14th century, many of these stone were cut loose and used to build mosques around Egypt, under the orders of ruler an-Nasir Hasan.
Many of them can still be seen around Cairo completely intact.
The remaining stones began to wear away under the unforgiving Sun and the constant weathering.
Earthquakes have also loosened the casing stones and created piles of rubble around the structure.
This was cleared away in order to keep the region looking tidy.