Archaeologists unearth tomb of previously unknown Queen in Egypt
A team of Czech archaeologists has discovered a tomb in an ancient Egyptian necropolis that belongs to a Pharaonic Queen, who ruled around 4,500 years ago and who was previously unknown to historians, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities announced on Sunday. The tomb was found in Abu Sir, often called the ‘site of the forgotten kings of the 5 th Dynasty’.
Abu Sir is an Old Kingdom necropolis in the vicinity of the modern capital Cairo, which served as one of the main elite cemeteries for the ancient Egyptian capital city of Memphis. As an elite cemetery, neighboring Giza had "filled up" with the massive pyramids and other monuments of the 4th Dynasty, leading the 5th Dynasty pharaohs to seek sites elsewhere for their own funerary monuments. Abu Sir, thus became the site for several pyramids and numerous tombs dedicated to pharaohs of the Fifth Dynasty.
Sarcophagus in the mastaba of Ptahshepses, son-in-law of the fifth dynasty king Niuserre, in Abu Sir ( Wikimedia Commons )
The Express Tribune reports that the newly-discovered tomb belongs to a wife of Neferefre, who Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty named as Khentakawess III. Two previous queens of Neferefre with the same name had already been identified, but a third queen was not known about.
Al-Damaty said it was the “first time we have discovered the name of this queen who had been unknown before the discovery of her tomb”. He added that her name and rank had been inscribed on the inner walls of the tomb. Photos of the tomb can be viewed at EFE.
Neferefre (named Raneferef while crown prince) was a Pharaoh of Egypt during the Fifth Dynasty. While Neferefre was given a reign of some twenty years in Manetho's Epitome, this number is believed to be an overestimation of his true reign length, based on the completely unfinished state of his intended pyramid. Its construction is believed to have been interrupted by the unexpected early death of the king.
The remains of Neferefre's unfinished pyramid ( Wikimedia Commons )
Lead researcher of the Czech Institute of Egyptology mission, Miroslav Barta, said the tomb was found in Neferefre’s funeral complex, and dates from the middle of the Fifty Dynasty (2994-2345 BC). Archaeologists found around 30 utensils, 24 made of limestone and four of copper, inside Khentakawess III’s tomb.
A reconstruction of Neferefre’s unfinished pyramid and funerary complex ( Wikimedia Commons )
The Ministry of Antiquities said in their statement that it is an important discovery that “will help us shed light on certain unknown aspects of the Fifth Dynasty, which along with the Fourth Dynasty, witnessed the construction of the first pyramids.”
Featured image: A general view of the ancient Egyptian necropolis at Abu Sir. The pyramid of Sahure is in the forground with the causeway leading up to it. Visible further back is the mastaba of Ptah Shepsus and all the way towards the back is the pyramid of Neferirkare. ( Wikimedia Commons )