Ancient Egypt continued to provide a wealth of historical knowledge to Egyptologists and archaeologists. A whole range of civilizations once called the fertile region along the Nile Delta region. Their lives and their stories span thousands of years.
Perhaps the best known is the period when great pharaohs ruled Egypt, including such figures as Djoser, Khufu, Akhenaton, Tutankhamun, and Ramses II.
By the end of the 19th century, many of the largest tombs, scattered throughout the Valley of the Kings, had either been discovered and excavated, or looted by ancient and contemporary tomb robbers.
However, even to the present day, graves continue to be found around Egypt.
Last year, a new discovery was made at Dahshur, this time a royal necropolis located in the desert on the west bank of the Nile, about 40 kilometers from Cairo.
Among the artifacts and relics found inside was a coffin, first believed to belong to a king, given that it was placed inside a pyramid, as pyramidal burials were reserved for rulers.
The discovery was explored during the Smithsonian Channel documentary ‘Mystery of the Lost Pyramid’.
Fragments of wood located in the burial chamber were reconstructed by a team working under the direction of Egyptologist Dr Yasmin El Shazly.
Together they formed a coffin lid with a beautifully carved face.
Dr Shazly said: “Coffins normally had characteristics similar to the owner.
“But they were idealized, because that is what they would look like for all eternity.”
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As the researchers went into the work with the belief that it was a king, as the restoration took hold, this soon turned out to be wrong.
As the narrator of the documentary noted, “The restoration revealed something amazing – he’s not a king.
“She is, in fact, a mystery woman.”
Dr Shazly explained that the casket lid showed a person wearing what is known as a Hathor wig – a piece of clothing popular in the days of the Middle Kingdom and worn only by women.
A chest was found next to the woman, covered in hieroglyphics that researchers initially hoped would help them decipher her identity.
However, where his name would be found was the most damaged part of the chest – an extremely “frustrating” fact, Dr Shazly said.
But the Egyptologist was able to decipher the rest of the script, and explained: “What is extremely important with this chest is that we know that it belonged to a princess because here it is written: ‘Daughter of the king ‘. “
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Not only her name remained a mystery, but also the reason she had previously been buried in a pyramid.
Professor Aidan Dodson of the University of Bristol said: “This type of pyramid design is specific to a king.
“This is not what you would expect from a junior member of the royal family.
“Normally a princess would just have a well tomb and a chamber at the back, which makes it a bit of a mystery.”
To better understand the princess, the team turned their attention to the times she lived in, during the Egyptian Middle Empire.
Spanning from 2030 to 1650 BC, the Middle Empire is known as the classical age of Egypt.
He produced the very first historical novel, titled ‘Sinuhe’s story‘, and new techniques for working with gold to create the most beautiful jewels of the ancient world.
Inside the Cairo Museum are some of the treasures of another Middle Empire princess, Khenmet, whom researchers hoped would help them in their quest to identify the mysterious woman.
It is not known exactly who Khenmet’s father is, but based on the position of his burial site next to the pyramid of Amenemhat II, researchers say it is likely that she was his daughter.
Holding a glamorous piece of jewelry that once belonged to him, Dr Shazly said: “Here we have the crown of Princess Khenmet of Dashur.
“It is made of gold and encrusted with semi-precious stones.
“And here in the front you have a branch, with very, very intricate leaves and flowers.
“This necklace is very delicate and very finely decorated.”
Pointing to a small element of the crown, she continued, “This, for example, is the symbol of life, the ankh.
“And this is a very famous amulet too – it is the Eye of Horus which helps protect the wearer.
“The newly discovered grave probably contains material very similar to this, a lot of gold, which is probably why it would have been stolen a long time ago.”
But, his identity remains a mystery that is not yet resolved.