Rare pharaonic relief, ancient tombs discovered

The tomb of Khentakawess III, a queen believed to have been the wife of Pharaoh Neferefre who ruled 4,500 years ago, after its discovery by Czech archaeologists in the Old Kingdom necropolis of Abu Sir, southwest of the capital Cairo. — AFP photos

A team of Swedish archeologists has discovered a rare 2,500-year-old wall relief depicting two pharaonic deities south of Cairo, Egyptian officials said on Tuesday.

The discovery, one of several finds by a team from Sweden’s Lund University, was made near Aswan, 850 km from the Egyptian capital.

A couple of days earlier, two ancient tombs were discovered, with one representing a symbolic burial site of the god Osiris while another is claimed to be a previously unknown pharaonic tomb.

Osiris’ tomb was found complete with multiple shafts and chambers at Al-Gorna necropolis on Luxor’s west bank, Ahram Online reported.

Antiquities Minister Mamdouh Al-Damaty, speaking to the daily, hailed the discovery as important as the tomb was a small version of the design of the Osirion found in Abydos in the Upper Egypt city of Sohag.

The wall relief near Aswan is one of the “few available sculptures combining the two deities — Amen-Re and Thot,” Ali Al-Asfar, head of Upper Egypt’s antiquities, told AFP.

Thot, the ancient god of wisdom, is depicted with the body of a man and face of an ibis sacred bird. The wall relief was found in a quarry north of Aswan used to supply stone to build the famed Karnak and Luxor temples in the city of Luxor.

The other finds include a sphinx-shaped statue and another relief showing two obelisks being transported which experts say could date to the time of 18th dynasty Queen Hatshepsut.

Osiris’ tomb, which consists of a large hall supported with five pillars, can be dated to the 25th Dynasty, the daily quoted an official as saying.

The paper quoted María Milagros Álvarez Sosa, head of the mission, as saying that part of the tomb was initially discovered by archeologist Philippe Virey in the 1880s and that some attempts were made to sketch out the main structure in the 20th century.

Meanwhile, Czech archeologists have unearthed the tomb of a previously unknown queen believed to have been the wife of Pharaoh Neferefre who ruled 4,500 years ago, Agence France-Presse reported officials as saying.

The tomb was discovered in Abu Sir, an Old Kingdom necropolis southwest of Cairo where there are several pyramids dedicated to pharaohs of the Fifth Dynasty, including Neferefre.

The name of his wife had not been known before the find, Antiquities Minister Al-Damaty said in a statement.

He identified her as Khentakawess, saying that for the “first time we have discovered the name of this queen who had been unknown before the discovery of her tomb.”

That would make her Khentakawess III, as two previous queens with the same name have already been identified.

Her name and rank had been inscribed on the inner walls of the tomb, probably by the builders, Damaty said.

“This discovery will help us shed light on certain unknown aspects of the Fifth Dynasty, which along with the Fourth Dynasty, witnessed the construction of the first pyramids,” he added.

Miroslav Barta, who heads the Czech Institute of Egyptology mission who made the discovery, said the tomb was found in Neferefre’s funeral complex.
“This makes us believe that the queen was his wife,” Barta said, according to the statement.

An official at the antiquities ministry said the tomb dated from the middle of the Fifth Dynasty (2994-2345 BC).

Archeologists also found around 30 utensils, 24 made of limestone and four of copper, the statement added.