Archaeologists in Egypt are preparing to open a 3,000-year-old burial shaft in the Saqqara necropolis, south of Cairo, in the coming week.
The Unexplored Tomb is one of 52 burial pits clustered near the much older pyramid of Pharaoh Teti. Site workers found the entrance to the last well earlier this week as they prepared to announce a series of other finds at the site, including the graves of military leaders and high courtiers, a copy of the Book of the dead, and ancient board games. Among the finds also include the name of the owner of an elaborate mortuary temple near the pyramid of Teti: Narat or Naert, the queen of the pharaoh.
“I had never heard of this queen before. Therefore, we are adding an important piece of Egyptian history to this queen, ”archaeologist and former Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass told CBS News. Archaeologists first discovered the stone temple in 2010, but it was not clear who the large structure was built for. In mortuary temples like this, priests and supplicants could make offerings to the dead queen to keep her comfortable in the afterlife – and ask her to help them in this world.
(Side note: Surviving examples of ancient Egyptian prayers to the dead often include reminders that if the deceased is not doing their part and helping the living, then the living might conveniently forget to continue making offerings and reciting prayers. prayers for the dead. Mom’s curse was actually just her ungrateful grandchildren from the start.)
Excavations over the past decade have revealed three mud brick warehouses along the temple where priests are said to have stored tools and offerings for the dead Queen Narat. Recently, archaeologists found Narat’s name inscribed on a fallen obelisk near the main entrance to the temple. The name returned to a temple wall.
The Queen’s temple is near her husband’s pyramid at Saqqara. Together, they founded the last dynasty of the Old Egyptian Empire; 150 years and six kings later, the country slipped into the political chaos of the First Intermediate Period.
Almost in the shadow of the pyramid of Teti, the 52 burial wells recently excavated at the site date from the Egyptian New Kingdom, a collection of dynasties that ruled from around 1570 to 1069 BCE. The earliest tombs of Saqqara are older than Egypt itself and date back to the Predynastic Period, when the land along the Nile was divided among several smaller kingdoms. During the next three thousand years, some of the greatest and most powerful in Egypt returned to Saqqara to build their graves. The 7-kilometer stretch of desert is home to elaborate temple complexes for the pharaohs, alongside the graves of generals, princes, and aristocrats.
Egyptian archaeologists unearthed around 50 wooden sarcophagi in burial pits, which are rectangular pits 10 to 12 meters deep covered with wooden planks or stone slabs. The coffins are much less ornate than the royal burials, but they still suggest that their occupants were wealthy and status people. They are painted with images of the deceased, scenes of deities and the afterlife, and lines from the Book of the Dead: a collection of prayers and instructions intended to guide the deceased through the various tests and challenges. that were along his afterlife journey. Think of it as the original version of the Manual for the recently deceased from the movie Beetlejuice.
In one of the burial shafts, archaeologists found the remains of a copy of chapter 17 of the text. The 4 meter long and 1 meter wide papyrus scroll belonged to a man named Bu-Khaa-Af, who we know because his name is written on it. Bu-Khaa-Af’s name also appears on his sarcophagus and on four wooden and ceramic figurines called ushabtis, believed to come to life and work as servants in the afterlife.
Their presence, along with the painted coffin and high-end real estate, marks Bu-Khaa-Af as a member of the old one percent. He is buried near a military leader whose grave includes a bronze ax, just in case he is called to leave his retreat by Osiris.