Retaining Detailed Reliefs, Fifth Dynasty Tomb and name of a new queen discovered at Saqqara

Fifth Dynasty Tomb and name of a new queen discovered at Saqqara

Retaining Detailed Reliefs, Fifth Dynasty Tomb and name of a new queen discovered at Saqqara

During an excavation and documentation survey in South Saqqara, an Egyptian archeological mission discovered the tomb of a dignitary of the Fifth Dynasty named Khuwy and also discovered the name of the queen to whom a pyramid complex in the area belonged.

The tomb consists of a superstructure with an L-shaped offering chamber, which was once decorated with reliefs. Only the bottom part of this decoration is preserved, as the white limestone blocks of the other parts were re-used in the construction of other buildings in antiquity.

Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, explained that the mission has found at the north wall of the tomb, the entrance to a unique substructure, which is for the 1st time clearly inspired by the design of the substructures of the royal pyramids of the 5th Dynasty.

That part of the tomb starts with a descending corridor, which leads to a vestibule. An entrance in its southern wall gives access to a decorated antechamber. Its decoration represents the tomb owner sitting in front of the offering table on the south and north walls. Moreover, an offering list was depicted on the east wall and the palace-façade on the west wall.

painting wall of the tomb
painting wall of the tomb

Mohamed Megahed, head of the archaeological mission, told Ahram Online that the mission located the undecorated burial chamber through 2 entrances in the west wall of the antechamber of the tomb.

“It seems that the burial chamber space was almost completely filled with a sarcophagus of limestone stone, found completely destroyed by ancient tomb robbers,” added Megahed. However, the mission discovered the human remains of Khuwy, which show clear traces of mummification.

An entrance in the south wall of the decorated antechamber leads to a small room, most likely used as a storeroom.

The mission found this room filled with debris, with no finds of any value.“The discovery of this tomb stresses the importance of Djedkare’s era, and the end of the 5th Dynasty in general,” asserted Megahed.

The mission, in cooperation with an international team of Egyptologists, has also found an ancient Egyptian queen who lived during the late 5th Dynasty in the same pyramid complex.

The mission found the name of queen Setibhor, who was not known before from ancient sources, engraved on a column in the south part of the until-now anonymous pyramid complex.

The complex is located by the pyramid of king Djedkare in south Saqqara, and the identity of its owner was a puzzle that Egyptologists have been trying to solve for decades.

The name and titles of the owner of this unique monument were found on the column made of red granite in the newly uncovered portico of the Queen’s complex.

The inscription was carved in sunken relief in a rectangle on the shaft of the column, and it reads: “The one who sees Horus and Seth, the great one of the hates scepter, the great of praise, king’s wife, his beloved Setibhor.”

The entrance of the tomb
The entrance of the tomb

The column and the limestone blocks and fragments bearing relief decoration from the temple of the queen were found during exploration and documentation work in the pyramid complex of king Djedkare.

The pyramid complex of queen Setibhor represents one of the earliest pyramids in south Saqqara, built at the end of the Fifth Dynasty, and it is the largest pyramid complex built for a queen during the Old Kingdom.

In addition, her funerary temple included architectural elements and chambers that were otherwise reserved for the kings of the Old Kingdom only.

The large size of the pyramid complex of queen Setibhor and her title of the queen may indicate her direct intervention in helping her husband, king Djedkare, ascend the throne of Egypt at the end of the 5th Dynasty.

It seems that Djedkare wanted to honor his wife by constructing her a huge pyramid complex, with many unusual features, including palmiform granite columns, which constitute an architectural element so far known only in the pyramid complexes of kings and not used in the temples of the queens during the Old Kingdom period.

the area where the tomb was uncovered
the area where the tomb was uncovered

Megahed said the mission also completed the architectural restoration and consolidation of the King’s pyramid substructure that had not previously been subjected to any restoration work.

The work of consolidation, restoration, and reconstruction of the inner walls of the pyramid represented a vital task for the mission, he said.

The mission is focused on the pyramid complexes of Djedkare and his Setibhor and their associated cemeteries, hoping to obtain more information on the end of the 5th Dynasty and the beginning of the Sixth Dynasty.

This period witnessed a radical transformation in ancient Egyptian ideology and religious beliefs, such as the appearance of the Pyramid Texts for the first time inside the pyramid of King Unas, the successor of Djedkare, and also the end of the practice of constructing sun temples, which all the Fifth Dynasty predecessors of Djedkare had done.

the decorated chamber
the decorated chamber
Jessica Saraceni has been a part of Histecho Since 2018, drawn to the site for its quirky character and through Articles about the Mysteries of earth and human behavior. previously, she was an assistant editor and Research fellow at Archaeology magazine, where she gained an appreciation for the field work. A master's degree in biogeochemistry and environmental science from the Center for Archaeological Research, the University of Texas at San Antonio. She enjoys all forms of exercise; reading works by her favorite author, Haruki Murakami; and playing with her sons.