3,000-year-old noblewomans tomb found in Egypt

March 7th, 2009 - 2:58 pm ICT by ANI  

National Geographic

Washington, March 7 (ANI): Archaeologists have uncovered a 3,000-year-old noblewomans tomb complex in Egypt, which includes among other things, ancient cult chapels.

According to a report in National Geographic News, the tomb has been identified as belonging to a woman named Isisnofret possibly the granddaughter of Pharaoh Ramses II, who reigned during the 13th century B.C.

Hieroglyphics on a sarcophagus in the tomb identify Isisnofret as a spst, or noblewomanan honorific reserved for women of the royal family or of otherwise exceptional status.

Long hidden by sand and rubble on a rocky outcrop on the outskirts the ancient royal burial city of Saqqara, the complex measures 89 by 34 feet (27 by 10 meters).

The tomb complex includes the base of a pyramid, a monumental gateway, a colonnaded courtyard, and an antechamber with three cult chapels, according to the team from Japans Waseda University that has been excavating the site since 1991.

Common in New Kingdom (1539 to 1075 B.C.) tomb complexes, cult chapels frequently hosted the deceaseds family on feast days.

Relatives would often eat and make offerings of food and other items to be used by the dead, Ray Johnson, director of the University of Chicago Oriental Institutes Epigraphic Survey, told National Geographic News.

Though Isisnofrets chapels are in ruins, partly due to looting, archaeologists have found fragments decorated with hieroglyphics.

In general, cult chapels were painted with scenes of daily life and offeringsin case the family failed to provide the real thing.

Inside Isisnofrets tomb building, a limestone sarcophagus was found holding three skeletonsdegraded mummies whose ages and sexes have yet to be determined, according to the preliminary Waseda University report.

The team is unsure why the sarcophagus holds three bodies, or even what the original state was.

The sarcophagus is missing its internal, wooden coffin, which was perhaps stolen during the ancient pillaging that seems to have stripped the tomb of funerary objects.

Isisnofrets identity remains a mystery, though Egyptologists see clues in the tombs close proximity to a monument for Pharaoh Ramses IIs son Prince Khaemwaset.

The prince had a daughter named Isisnofret, who was a granddaughter of the pharaoh. (ANI)

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