Old Kingdom style tomb for woman discovered in Egypt's Giza

An exciting new discovery leads experts to wonder who was the important lady buried in such luxury.

Old Kingdom style tomb for woman discovered in Egypt's Giza (REUTERS)
An Egyptian archaeological mission has discovered an Old Kingdom tomb of a lady named "Hetpet," who is assumed to have been a top official in the royal palace during the end of the Fifth Dynasty, according to information released by Egyptian authorities on Saturday.
The tomb was found during excavation work carried out in the Giza West Field's cemetery, which houses tombs of the Old Kingdom's top officials and was discovered by previous archaeologists back in 1842.
The tomb, which can be dated back to the Fifth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom or High Empire (2650-2100 BC), is decorated with paintings that show ancient Egyptian life from nearly 4,000 years ago. On its western end, there is a rectangular stand lined with incense and offerings.
Although this is not the first discovery of its kind in Egypt, the archaeological team stressed the importance of it given the peculiarity of a non-noble woman being buried alone.
"In ancient Egypt, it was uncommon for a woman to to be buried separate from her husband. Only the princesses of the ruling family had their own graves. Building a tomb for a woman, who was not a part of the royal family, was rather uncommon. This shows the status of women at that time," said Hasan Ramadan, the supervisor of the Egyptian team's excavations.
So far, researchers have not been able to identify who Hetpet truly was, however, they have hypothesized that she could have been an important priestess or someone linked to agrarian work and, thus, somehow served the court.
The tomb has distinguished and well-preserved wall paintings depicting Hetpet standing in different hunting and fishing scenes and also sitting before a large table receiving offerings from her children.
Scenes of people gathering fruits, melting metals, making leather and papyri boats and musical and dance performances are also depicted on the wall.
The most distinct painting in the tomb depicts two monkeys in two different positions. The first scene shows a monkey taking fruit, while the second one shows another monkey dancing while musicians play instruments.
There are similar paintings that were found in other tombs, including the funerary chamber of "Jnoum Hetep II", of the Twelfth Dynasty discovered in Beni Hasan in the province of Minia, and in that of the "Ka Empire" in Saqara, south of Cairo. Although similar in style, these drawings showed a monkey dancing in front of a single harpist, not a group of musicians.
Representing one of the most ancient civilizations, Egypt has been working hard to preserve its archaeological heritage.
In an attempt to revive the country's ailing tourism sector, Egypt is keen to uncover the Pharaohs' archaeological secrets as well as other ancient sites buried underneath the country.