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The Ramasseum, mortuary temple of Pharaoh Ramesses II, in Luxor

Archaeologists unearth tomb of Queen at the Mortuary Temple of Ramesses II

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An Egyptian-French archaeological mission carrying out excavations at the Ramesseum temple on the west bank of Luxor have discovered a tomb dating back more than 3,000 years inscribed with, “the divine wife of God Amun”, an ancient Egyptian title given only to royal wives. The discovery has great historical importance as it sheds more light on the ancient figure, Karomama, whose name was found on statuettes within the tomb.

View of Luxor from within the Ramesseum

View of Luxor from within the Ramesseum. Source: BigStockPhoto

The Ramesseum is the mortuary temple of Pharaoh Ramesses II ("Ramesses the Great"). It is located in the Theban necropolis in Upper Egypt, across the River Nile from the modern city of Luxor. Ramesses II commissioned the construction of many buildings during his reign, and the most splendid of these, in accordance with New Kingdom Royal burial practices, would have been his memorial temple: a place of worship dedicated to pharaoh, god on earth, where his memory would have been kept alive after his death.

Stone carving of Ramesses II found at the Ramesseum. Source: BigStockPhoto

The Agence France-Presse (AFP) announced that it was during ongoing investigations at the Ramesseum that the new discovery of the Queen’s tomb was made. Although not spectacular in terms of treasures or decoration, the tomb provides important new information about the title “Karomama”.

“The tomb is relatively small with a stone door leading to a 5-meter shaft and a burial chamber, where funerary equipments, offerings and 20 well-preserved statuettes were found,” Abdel-Hakim Karar, director of the Upper Egypt Antiquities Department told The Cairo Post

The statuettes, found by the tomb’s entrance, bore the name of  “Karomama” and hieroglyphic inscriptions describe her as “the earthly spouse of the god Amun.”

Ushabtis Of Karomama Found At The Temple Of Ramses II

Ushabtis Of Karomama Found At The Temple Of Ramses II - Courtesy Of The Antiquities Ministry’s Facebook Page

The Louvre houses a unique bronze statuette of Karomama that was brought to France following the Napoleon’s mission to Egypt (1798 – 1801).

“She was a Divine Adoratrice, a virgin and earthly spouse of the god Amun, who was worshiped at Karnak. She held the status of a queen, and is portrayed in a robe encircled by vulture wings,” writes the Louvre in a description about the statuette. “Her life was devoted entirely to the god, and she performed the religious rites in the Temple of Karnak, rattling the sistrums to please and pacify Amun. She ruled as a sovereign in her own right and wore the royal insignia; her names were enclosed in cartouches.”

The archaeological team who made the discovery was led by Christian Leblanc, a French archaeologist, who has been excavating at the Ramesseum since the 1980s.

Statues at the Ramesseum, Luxor

Statues at the Ramesseum, Luxor. Source: BigStockPhoto

“The new discovery may not be spectacular from the artistic point of view, but due to the scarcity of Karomama’s artifacts that have been discovered so far, it is definitely a significant find as it sheds more light on her life,” Leblanc was quoted by the Pharaoh Magazine.

During the Ramesside Period – the Nineteenth Dynasty (1314-1200 BC) and Twentieth Dynasty (1200-1085 BC) – eleven kings were named Ramesses, so it is not clear who Karomama was married to. It is hoped that further investigations may unravel her story.

Featured image: The Ramasseum, mortuary temple of Pharaoh Ramesses II, in Luxor. Source: BigStockPhoto

By April Holloway

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