January 16, 2012
Archeologists Discover Tomb of Egyptian Singer
A team of Swiss archaeologists working in Egypt made a fortuitous discovery last year when they stumbled upon the tomb of a female singer in the Valley of the Kings.
According to an inscription on the roughly 3,000 year-old artifact, its contents belonged to a woman named Nehmes Bastet, a famed temple singer for Egypt´s 22nd Dynasty which reigned between 945 and 712 BC.
After a year of patient waiting, University of Basel professors Susanne Bickel and Elina Paulin-Grothe opened the ancient sarcophagus this week to find what Bickel described as the “nicely wrapped” mummy of the long-deceased singer
Egypt´s Antiquities Minister Mohammed Ibrahim told AFP that the well-preserved remains were those of a renowned singer and daughter of the high priest of Amon.
The two Swiss archeologists opened the tomb under the supervision of Egypt´s Chief Inspector of Antiquities of Upper Egypt Dr Mohammed el-Bialy and inspector Ali Reda.
While the researchers reportedly discovered the upper edge of the tomb on January 25, 2011, Bickel told BBC News that the team decided to keep quiet about it until Egypt´s revolutionary uprisings – which erupted on the same day that they made their find – quieted down and the political situation in the country stabilized.
It was only last week that the researchers were first able to positively identify the buried object as a tomb.
In addition to the fact that it represents one of the only tombs in the so-called Valley of the Kings that has not been looted by bandits, Egyptian Antiquities Minister Mohammed Ibrahim told AFP that it provides definitive proof that the rulers at the time also buried non-royalty in the valley.
While earlier dynasties had been known to lay non-royals to rest in the area, the importance of this find, according to Ibrahim, is that “it shows that the Valley of the Kings was also used for the burial of ordinary individuals and priests of the 22nd Dynasty.”
Even more peculiar about the find, explained Professor Paulin-Grothe, was that the tomb was not actually made specifically for the female singer. Instead, she explained, her contemporaries appear to have re-used a tomb that had been created some 400 years earlier.
The Egyptian news site Ahram reported that the wooden tomb had been painted over in black and filigreed with hieroglyphic texts.
Archeologists say that this is only the second tomb to be found in the Valley of the Kings since the legendary discovery of Tutankhamun – known in pop culture as King Tut–in 1922.
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