The Antiquities Ministry of Egypt made a formal announcement today that just outside of Cairo, and near the Great Pyramid of Giza, a 4,400-year-old tomb has been discovered which is believed to have belonged to a woman named Hetpet, who was a priestess of Hathor.
Inside of the vast chamber of this tomb is colorful artwork in which the priestess Hetpet can be seen honoring various scenes which depict Egyptians fishing and hunting. Archaeologist Mostafa Al-Waziri, who was the man responsible for heading up this particular expedition, has said that one of the most vivid pieces of art in the tomb is that of a monkey who is dancing merrily in front of an orchestra.
The 4,400-year-old tomb was found in Giza’s western cemetery, where extremely high-ranking government officials from the 5th Dynasty were laid to rest. As Egyptian Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani explained to the press, Hetpet would also have been considered one of these officials in her role as a priestess, according to the BBC.
“We know of course that she was a high official and that she had a strong link with the royal palace.”
Describing the particular style of this Egyptian tomb, the Antiquities Ministry has revealed that it has “the architectural style and the decorative elements of the Fifth Dynasty, with an entrance leading to an ‘L’ shaped shrine.”
— The Times of Israel (@TimesofIsrael) February 3, 2018
The multitude of wall paintings have been said to be in “very good conservation condition depicting Hetpet standing in different hunting and fishing scenes or receiving offerings from her children.”
Mostafa Waziri, who works with Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, has said that artwork of this kind has only ever been found in tombs from the Old Kingdom, including a previous painting of a pet monkey during this time which showed it dancing in front of a lone guitarist rather than the orchestra that can be seen inside of the 4,400-year-old priestess’s tomb.
“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.”
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) February 3, 2018
Interestingly, The Times of Israel reported that in 1909 there was a large German archaeological expedition which recovered objects belonging to a woman named Hetpet, who may or may not have been the same priestess whose tomb has just been discovered.
“A German expedition had found in 1909 a collection of antiquities carrying this lady’s name, or a lady who has the same name, and these antiquities were moved to the Berlin museum at the time. And 109 years later, we find this tomb that carries Hetpet’s name. “
As befits a high priestess of Hathor, inside the newly found tomb there is also “a purification basin on which are engraved the name of the tomb’s owner and her titles,” according to Khaled al-Anani.
With so much left to discover in the 4,400-year-old tomb discovered outside of Cairo, Khaled al-Anani has said that further digging will continue in this area of Egypt in the hope of learning more about this great priestess of Hathor.