4,400-year-old tomb of ancient priestess unveiled in Egypt

Well preserved wall paintings depict Hathor’s priestess in different hunting and fishing scenes

Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered a 4,400-year-old tomb of a once-important figure of an ancient civilization.

The newly discovered site located 20 km from Cairo is believed to be the final resting place of Hetpet, a priestess to Hathor, Egypt’s goddess of fertility.

A team of archaeologists led by Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, unveiled the ancient tomb in Giza’s western cemetery.

“We know of course that she was a high official and that she had a strong link with the royal palace,” Egyptian Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani said, describing Hetpet for the AFP news agency on Saturday.

Hetpet’s tomb “has the architectural style and the decorative elements of the Fifth Dynasty, with an entrance leading to an ‘L’ shaped shrine,” the antiquities ministry said.

“The tomb has very distinguished wall paintings in a very good conservation condition depicting Hetpet standing in different hunting and fishing scenes or… receiving offerings from her children.”

The well-preserved paintings also depict scenes of musical and dancing performances, as well as scenes featuring monkeys that were favourite pets at that time. In one of the paintings, a monkey is seen dancing in front of an orchestra.

“Such scenes are rare… and have only been found previously in the (Old Kingdom) tomb of Ka-Iber where a painting shows a monkey dancing in front of a guitarist not an orchestra,” Waziri told AFP news agency.

The Old Kingdom’s Fifth Dynasty ruled Egypt between the years 2465-2323 BC and several tombs dating to this era have been found in the area since 1842.

Minister Anani said he was hopeful of further discoveries at Saqqara, a necropolis located about 20km south of Cairo.

“We’re going to continue digging in this area and I believe that very soon we’re going to discover something.”