In 1958 the Czech (or, at that time, Czechoslovak) Institute of Egyptology was established at Charles University, in Prague, to conduct archaeological excavations in Egypt. Between 1960 and 1974, the institute uncovered at Abusir the 5th Dynasty mastaba of vizier Ptahshepses (c. 2450 B.C.), the largest non-royal tomb of Egypt’s Old Kingdom (2920–2134 B.C.).
In the early 1960s the institute also took part in the campaign, headed by UNESCO, to record and safeguard ancient Nubian monuments that were to be submerged by the Aswan High Dam. In five seasons of work, the institute recorded about 400 rock inscriptions and 1,000 rock drawings and paintings.
After completing the excavation of Ptahshepses’s mastaba, Czech archaeologists began to uncover the unfinished pyramid complex of the 5th Dynasty king Raneferef (c. 2419–2416 B.C.), also at Abusir. In this complex, they found fragments of royal statuary and the remains of a papyrus archive—consisting of several fairly intact scrolls and hundreds of smaller fragments.
Not far from the Raneferef complex, the Czech team excavated two smaller 5th Dynasty pyramid complexes. One of these carries an inscription with the name of the owner: Queen Khentkaus, the wife of King Neferirkare and the mother of kings Raneferef and Niuserre. Only a few of the dozens of lesser tombs surrounding the royal pyramid complexes have been uncovered so far. Perhaps the most important among them are the mastabas of Prince Nakhtkare, possibly the oldest son of King Raneferef, and Princess Khekeretnebti, the daughter of King Djedkare-Isesi, who was buried at Saqqara.
Since 1990, the institute has conducted excavations in the southernmost portion of the Abusir necropolis, where tombs of Old Kingdom dignitaries are situated. So far we have unearthed tombs from the 3rd Dynasty (2649–2575 B.C.), 4th Dynasty (2575–2465 B.C.), 5th Dynasty (2465–2323 B.C.) and 6th Dynasty (2323–2150 B.C.). Two 6th Dynasty tombs are identified as belonging to the vizier Qar and his son, the Supreme Judge Inti.b
The team is now excavating a group of mid-first-millennium B.C. tombs on the southwestern outskirts of the Abusir necropolis. So far they have found the tomb complexes of Udjahorresnet and Iufaa described in this article, and every season yields more and more.