CAIRO — Archaeologists in Egypt say they have discovered a 4,400-year-old tomb near the pyramids outside Cairo.
Egypt’s Antiquities Ministry announced the discovery Saturday and said the tomb likely belonged to Hetpet, a priestess to Hathor, the goddess of fertility, who assisted women in childbirth.
The tomb includes wall paintings depicting Hetpet observing different hunting and fishing scenes.
Mostafa Al-Waziri, leader of the archaeological mission, said the scenes depict a monkey — at the time commonly kept as domestic animals — reaping fruit and another dancing before an orchestra.
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The tomb was found during excavation work in Giza’s western cemetery by a team of Egyptian archaeologists led by Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.
The antiquities ministry said the cemetery houses tombs of top officials from the Old Kingdom’s Fifth Dynasty (2465-2323 BC), and that several have already been dug up since 1842.
Waziri said the paintings were unusual.
“Such scenes are rare… and have only been found previously in the tomb of ‘Ka-Iber’ where a painting shows a monkey dancing in front of a guitarist, not an orchestra,” he said.
That tomb is located in Saqqara, a necropolis about 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Cairo.
Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Enany told reporters the new tomb includes “a purification basin on which are engraved the name of the tomb’s owner and her titles.”
“A German expedition had found in 1909 a collection of antiquities carrying this lady’s name, or a lady who has the same name, and these antiquities were moved to the Berlin museum at the time,” he said. “And 109 years later, we find this tomb that carries Hetpet’s name.”
Waziri said archaeologists will continue to excavate the site and hope to make new discoveries.