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Tomb of ancient Egyptian princess found surrounded by court of tombs

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 9th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Scientists have discovered the tomb of an Egyptian princess buried in a very unusual place. The tomb of Sheretnebty was found south of Cairo, in a court with four surrounding tombs of high officials.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Archaeologists digging in Abusir South say that the structure dates back to 2500 B.C., built in the second half of the Fifth Dynasty. Archaeologists remain puzzled as to why this princess was buried in Abusir South among tombs of non-royal officials.

The majority of the Fifth Dynasty's royal family was buried 1.2 miles to the north, in the central part of Abusir or farther south in Saqqara.

The researchers are unclear as to why the remains of the princess are inside a tomb, as the investigation is still in progress. Several fragments of a false-door bearing the titles and the name of Sheretnebty, the king's daughter, have been found.

"By this unique discovery we open a completely new chapter in the history of Abusir and Saqqara necropolis," Miroslav Bárta, director of the mission, told LiveScience.

Bárta and colleagues think the ancient builders used a naturally existing step in the bedrock to create the princess' court, which extends down 13 feet and is surrounded by mastaba -- a type of ancient Egyptian tomb that forms a flat-roofed rectangular structure, above it.
One of the four tombs surrounding that of the princess belonged to Nefer, the overseer of the scribes of the crews, and contained four statues of the tomb's owner.

A limestone staircase descends from north to south along the burial court. Four limestone pillars that once supported roofing blocks hold carved hieroglyphic inscriptions which read "King's daughter of his body, his beloved, revered in front of the Great God, Sheretnebty."

Surrounding the princess' tomb are the four surrounding tombs, which were cut into the rock of the south wall of the court and of a corridor that runs east from the southeast corner of the court.

The two tombs in the south wall, dating to the time of Djedkare Isesi, the seventh ruler of the Fifth Dynasty, belong to Shepespuptah, the chief of justice of the Great House, and Duaptah, an inspector of the palace attendants.

The other pair is situated along the corridor, with one belonging to an official named Ity.

"We are very fortunate to have this new window through which we can go back in time and to follow and document step by step life and death of several historically important individuals of the great pyramid age era," Bárta said in a statement.

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