Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tomb of Ancient Egyptian Queen Behenu Uncovered at Saqqara

From Yahoo News

Burial chamber of ancient Egyptian queen unearthed
Wed Mar 3, 4:28 pm ET
CAIRO – French archaeologists announced Wednesday the discovery outside Cairo of the burial chamber of a mysterious queen from Egypt's Old Kingdom more than 4,000 years ago.

The necropolis of Saqqara outside Cairo has yielded a string of new discoveries as 10 different teams excavate a previously untouched area of these burial grounds were used continuously for more than 2,000 years until Roman times.

French mission head Philippe Collombert said the mummy of Queen Behenu was destroyed, but the chamber contained green hieroglyphics picked out on white stone known as the "Pyramid Texts."

"We are excited because the texts are well conserved," he told The Associated Press, adding that the queen's titles were written on the walls of the 33 by 16 foot (10 meter by 5 meter) burial chamber inside her small pyramid.

The text is primarily concerned with protecting the queen's remains and her transition to afterlife.

Collombert called the queen "mysterious," and said it was not clear whether she was the wife of King Pepi I or II, two long-ruling pharaohs of the Sixth Dynasty.

Under that dynasty, Egypt's Old Kingdom period ended as centralized rule broke down and ushered in a period of competing dynasties and powerful nobles vying for power across the country.

Pyramids from this time were mainly concentrated in Saqqara and were shoddily built, compared to their more famous cousins in Giza, and have largely fallen apart.

Collombert said the mission has worked in the area since 1988 and has unearthed seven pyramids belonging to queens from the dynasty, but this is only the second pyramid with religious texts on the walls.
This ticks me off. This article does not at all impress the importance of what it meant for an Egyptian woman to bear the title "Queen." Not a word is said about how rulership was passed via the matrilineal line of descent! Why do you suppose all those Egyptian pharaohs thousands of years ago married their sisters??? Rulership was authenticated and, although not much talked about in today's histories, actually conveyed to their male consorts via the woman's line of descent, not the male's line of descent. It was the WOMEN who really ruled, albeit mostly from behind the throne, with some important exceptions (for instance Hatshepsut and Cleopatra VII). When the primary wife (Queen) failed to give birth to a male heir, all hell broke loose.

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