Archeologists unearth tomb of ancient queen, Osiris funeral complex

Kane Khanh | Archeaology
February 5, 2024

Image from the unearthing of the Osiris funeral complex – Courtesy: MIN project

Two major archeological discoveries were announced on Sunday: the unearthing of a tomb belonging to a previously unidentified Ancient Egyptian queen, and the excavation of a funerary complex for Osiris, the Ancient Egyptian deity of the dead.

The tomb of a queen identified as Khentkaus III, said to hail from the Old Kingdom’s Fifth Dynasty, was found near the town of Abu Sir about 30 km south of Cairo, according to a statement posted on the Ministry of Antiquities’ official webpage.

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Archeologists and Egyptologists are still investigating the tomb, which is believed to date back nearly 4,500 years to circa 2455-2345 BCE. According to the ministry, inscriptions in the tomb describe its owner as being either the pharaoh’s wife, or his mother.

Khentkaus III is believed to be related to either Pharaoh Nyuserre or his successor, Menkauhor. The distinct roles of female royalties are also being studied in light of this recent discovery.

Archeologists found 24 limestone vessels and vases along with four brass tools among other funereal possessions in the tomb, according to ministry sources.

This tomb came to light over the past week as a result of the joint efforts of a team of Czech and Egyptian archeologists.

In a separate development, a team of Italian and Spanish archeologists working in coordination with the Ministry of Antiquities announced on Friday the discovery of a multi-level funerary complex honoring the Ancient Egyptian god of the dead and the underworld, Osiris.

Unearthed along the West Bank of Luxor — formerly known as Thebes — this necropolis reportedly includes carvings of Osiris and relief sculpture portraying ominous, knife-wielding demons. This structure is said to be linked to Tomb 327 in the Qurna area, near the renowned Valley of the Kings, located over 600 km south of Cairo.

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The archeologists involved in the excavation estimate that this complex was built sometime between the years 750-525 BCE, likely during the 25th or 26th Dynasties of Ancient Egypt’s Third Intermediate Period, also known as the Late Period.

Centered in this ancient structure is a large funerary hall with five sizeable supporting pillars. A series of stairwells and shafts descending dozens of meters into the earth branch off from this central hall. The exact depths and size of this structure are still being determined.

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With its underground stairwells, shafts and tunnels, this structure honoring the god of the underworld resembles an older structure linked to the New Kingdom’s Pharaoh Seti I at the ancient site of Abydos, known as the Osireion.

The Osirieion underground structure was built circa 1290-1279 BCE during Ancient Egypt’s New Kingdom, and is located in the present-day Sohag governorate situated roughly 400 km south of Cairo.