Two new tombs have been accidentally uncovered in Egypt, both said to be of high-ranking officials from the Middle Kingdom period (c. 2050 BC-1710 BC), and more particularly the 11th dynasty. The tombs were uncovered when a joint Egyptian-Australian mission from Maquarie University were cleaning a tomb at the Beni Hassan necropolis 20km to the south of Minya.
The tombs have been identified as belonging to officials Rimushenty and Baqet II, designated as tombs 27 and 33.
The Beni Hassan necropolis was primarily used during the Middle Kingdom and contains 39 tombs of provincial governors (nomarchs) from the period and 888 shaft tombs in the lower necropolis. The site is divided into an upper and lower necropolis with those of higher status buried nearer the top of the cliff, the tombs being noted for the quality of the interior paintings which depict social and military scenes. Some of the notable burials at the site include Baqet I, Baqet III, Khety and Netjernakht.
Rimushenty’s burial chamber was found at the bottom of a ten foot deep shaft, no sarcophagi or other funerary collection being found during the discovery. The chamber is unfortunately an empty rectangular space void of its sarcophagus with Baqet II’s chamber being of the same design.
Ayman Ashmawi, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department at the Ministry of Antiquities believes that the tombs had been opened previously by British Egyptologist Percy E. Newberry and that the collection had likely been removed by the Egyptologist sometimes between 1893 and 1900 during his work at the site.
Born in 1869, Percy Newberry first travelled to Egypt in 1884 at the invitation of Reginald Stuart Poole, beginning administrative work at the Egypt Exploration Fund and undertaking his own endeavours from 1886. In 1891 Newberry worked with a young Howard Carter whom he appointed as a trainee tracer, working with him again on the Tutankhamun excavations for several seasons.
A collection of clay food containers was found in two side chambers to the east and west of Rimushenty’s main chamber while the Baqet II main chamber is said to be painted and well-preserved with a collection of clay vessels also found within.
Naguib Kanawati, the head of the mission, says that the joint team will return to work at the site in January to clean, restore and study the paintings alongside a full inspection of the shaft and chambers.
The mission has been working in Beni Hassan necropolis since 2009.