The tomb of Hetpet, a priestess and court lady who lived in Egypt’s royal court during the Old Kingdom’s Fifth Dynasty (2465 – 2323 BC) has been unearthed. The rare wall paintings that adorn the tomb are very well-preserved.
Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani, who announced the discovery to reporters, said the tomb was located in the western cemetery on the Giza plateau near Cairo, and was found by a team of Egyptian archaeologists led by Mustafa Waziri, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. It had been built, he said, for Hetpet, a priestess to Hathor, the ancient fertility goddess who assisted women in childbirth.
Dr Anany said the cemetery includes tombs of top officials from the Fifth Dynasty, and that several have already been dug up since 1842.
According to Antiquities Ministry sources, The newly discovered tomb has the architectural style and decorative elements of the Fifth Dynasty. An entrance leads to an L-shaped shrine.
The tomb features wall paintings of Hetpet in various hunting and fishing scenes or receiving offerings from her children. There are also scenes of musical and dancing performances as well as two scenes featuring monkeys—domestic animals at the time—one picking and eating fruit and the other dancing in front of an orchestra.
Mr Waziri said the paintings were unusual.
“Such scenes are rare… and have only been found before in the (Old Kingdom) tomb of ‘Ka-Iber’ at Saqqara necropolis, some 20km south of Cairo, where a painting shows a monkey dancing in front of a guitarist not an orchestra,” he said.
Mr Waxiri the new tomb includes “a purification basin on which are engraved the name of the tomb’s owner and her titles”.
“A German expedition had found in 1909 a collection of antiquities carrying this lady’s name, or a lady who has the same name, and these antiquities were moved to the Berlin museum at the time,” he said. “And 109 years later, we find this tomb that carries Hetpet’s name.”
Mr Waziri said archaeologists will continue to excavate the site and hope to make new discoveries.
4 February 2018