By Macy Dennon
On Nov. 4, 2022, a century after paleontologists discovered King Tut’s tomb, archaeologists announced that they found hundreds of tombs and mummies at Giza.
Among the discoveries were the pyramid of a previously unknown ancient Egyptian queen, Neith, along with mummies, coffins, artifacts, and several tunnels connected to one another. Archaeologists made these discoveries at the ancient necropolis of Saqqara in Giza, just 20 miles from Cairo. Saqqara is the site of two years’ worth of archaeological excavations. In this year’s excavations, they unearthed five painted tombs, the tomb of a dignitary, and a treasurer’s sarcophagus. Zahi Hawass, an Egyptologist who is working on the dig and who formerly served as Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities told LiveScience, “It is amazing to literally rewrite what we know of history, adding a new queen to our records”.
In reference to the discovery, Hawass stated, “Now we have found 22 [interconnected] shafts, ranging from 30 to 60 feet [9 to 18 meters] deep, all with New Kingdom burials. (Also known as the Egyptian Empire, the New Kingdom period lasted from the sixth century BC to the 11th century BC). Burials from the New Kingdom were not known to be common in the area before, so this is entirely unique to the site.” The Egyptologist continued, “The coffins have individual faces, each one unique, distinguishing between men and women, and are decorated with scenes from the Book of the Dead [an ancient Egypt funerary text].”
What astonished him the most was the great condition of the mummies. “This shows that mummification reached its peak in the New Kingdom,” Hawass expressed. Other discoveries, he added, were also “various artifacts, including games such as the ancient game of Senet, shabtis [small figurines], statues of the god Ptah-Sokar and even a metal axe found in the hand of an army soldier.”
In addition, researchers found a pyramid commemorating a queen whose identity was previously unknown. “We have since discovered that her name was Neith and she had never before been known from the historical record,” said Hawass. This discovery of Queen Neith changes the way historians view the Egyptians and history in general.
Archaeologists remained convinced that more remained undiscovered in the area. As soon as the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza opens next year, a selection of Saqqara’s finds will be displayed.