French archeologists found ancient tomb


A French mission working at a site in Saqqara found the burial chamber of Queen Behenu. However, it is still unclear if this queen was the wife of Pepi I or Pepi II, who ruled during the 6th Dynasty.

The burial chamber was revealed while the team was cleaning the sand from Behenu’s pyramid in the area of el-Shawaf in South Saqqara, west of the pyramid of King Pepi I.

Dr. Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said that the burial chamber is badly destroyed with the exception of two inner walls on which were found engraved pyramid texts. Pyramid texts were widely in used in royal tombs during the 5th and 6th Dynasties (circa. 2465-2150 BC). They were first discovered inside the burial chamber of King Unas’ pyramid at Saqqara; he was the last king of the 5th Dynasty.

Pyramid texts are religious texts composed of spells primarily concerned with protecting the king’s remains, reanimating his body after death, and helping him ascend to the heavens. The spells delineate all of the ways the king could travel through the afterlife, including ramps, stairs, ladders, and most importantly, flight. The spells could also be used to call on the gods for help, even threatening them if they did not comply. Dr. Philippe Collombert, head of the mission, said that further excavation inside the burial chamber led the team to the queen’s sarcophagus. He added, “It is a well-preserved granite sarcophagus engraved with the queen’s different titles but says nothing about the identity of her husband.”

The French mission has been working within the necropolis of Pepi I at Saqqara where they unearthed the 25-meter long pyramid of Behenu and Pyramid text fragments since 2007. They have located a total of seven queen pyramids dating to the reigns of Pepi I and Pepi II since the beginning of their project in 1989. The pyramids have been attributed to Queens Inenek, Nubunet, Meretites II, Ankhespepy III, Miha, and one yet to be identified queen.