Egyptian Princess May Have Been Buried in Newly Discovered Pyramid

An inscription suggests that the tomb once belonged to a pharaoh’s daughter

Ministry of Antiquities

Back in April, archaeologists working in Dahshur, Egypt, unearthed the remains of a 3,700-year-old pyramid. An inscription indicated that the pyramid was built for the pharaoh Ameny Qemau, who ruled for a short period during Egypt’s 13th Dynasty. But as Owen Jarus reports for Live Science, a new discovery at the site suggests that the pyramid was in fact used as a tomb for the pharaoh’s daughter.

Once archaeologists removed the stones that covered the pyramid’s burial chamber, they found a wooden box etched with three lines of hieroglyphics. A statement from Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities doesn’t provide many details about the inscription, but it does say that “the name engraved on it would be for the daughter of the 13th Dynasty king [Ameny Qemau].” It is possible, in other words, that the tomb once held the body of an Egyptian princess.  

According to Garry Shaw of The Art Newspaper, the wooden box was used to store canopic jars—funerary vessels for the organs of a mummy. The jars have not survived to the present-day, but researchers did find wrappings that may have once contained the deceased’s liver, intestines, stomach and lungs. They also unearthed a badly preserved sarcophagus.

If the burial chamber does in fact belong to Ameny Qemau’s daughter, it would clear up some questions surrounding the new Dahshur pyramid. The excavation in April marked the second time archaeologists found a pyramid in Dahshur inscribed with Ameny Qemau’s name; the first was discovered in 1957, and is located just 2,000 feet away from the new find. Considering that pyramids were used as tombs, it was a strange discovery: Why, researchers wondered, did Ameny Qemau need two pyramids built in his name?

Aidan Dodson, a research fellow at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, tells Jarus of Live Science that the pharaoh “may have usurped the pyramid built for his predecessor for the interment of one of his daughters.”

“The pyramid is not of a type appropriate to a princess,” Dodson notes. “It must therefore have been built for a king, but then usurped for her burial."

Excavations at the site are still ongoing. As the Ministry of Antiquities put it in their statement, it is possible that future research will “uncover more of the pyramid's secrets.”

Get the latest stories in your inbox every weekday.