Archaeologists have unearthed a 4,500-year-old tomb of an Egyptian priest which they believe could mark a completely “new-to-science” necropolis, or the city of the dead, in the land of pyramids.

The beautifully decorated the burial site, found close to the tombs of pyramid builders in Giza, belonged to Rudj-Ka, a priest who lived during the Fifth Dynasty (2465-2323 B.C.) and was responsible for the mortuary cult of the pharaoh Khafre, also known as Chephren.

Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the discovery indicates that an unknown larger necropolis may lie near the three famous pyramids.

“This tomb could be the first of many in the area. Hopefully we have located a new necropolis dedicated to certain members of the royal court,” Mr. Hawass was quoted as saying by LiveScience.

It might also mark an offshoot of the western necropolis at Giza - the home to Egypt’s most famous pyramids that housed the mummified bodies of ancient royalty, he added.

Mr. Hawass pointed to unique architectural features of the tomb that include a superstructure built from limestone blocks. Those blocks create the maze-like pathway leading to the tomb entrance carved into a cliff face.

The tomb’s walls include painted reliefs that show Rudj-ka with his wife in front of an offering table that holds gifts of bread, goose and cattle. But it also shows the priest doing daily life activities such as fishing and boating.

This latest discovery was announced by Egypt’s minister of culture Farouk Hosny based on a routine excavation by an Egyptian archaeological team from the Supreme Council of Antiquities.