Queen's Mummy Found In 4,300-Year-Old Pyramid

Andrew Bossone in Cairo
for National Geographic News
January 14, 2009

Parts of a mummy found inside a 4,300-year-old pyramid could be Queen Seshseshet, the mother of the first pharaoh of Egypt's 6th dynasty, archaeologists have announced.

A skull, pelvis, legs, and pieces of a torso wrapped in linen lay inside a 16-foot-tall (5-meter-tall) pyramid—the third "subsidiary" tomb found next to that of the pharaoh Teti, who ruled for 22 years before he was assassinated.

Seshseshet's pyramid was discovered last November in Saqqara, the vast burial ground near modern-day Cairo that was part of the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis.

Two other previously known pyramids were for his principal wives, Iput I and Khuit.

Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), noted that there are currently no plans to run DNA tests on the mummy to confirm its identity.

"We believe the [newfound] pyramid belonged to the queen, the mother of Teti, because she is the third woman that we know in the life of the king," Hawass said.

Motherly Love

Royal moms were revered in ancient Egypt, as they were literally considered the mothers of a god. Teti's mother was an especially well-known figure in her day.

"Teti loved his mother so much that he named all of his [nine] daughters after her," said Egyptologist Naguib Kanawati of Macquarie University in Australia, who was not involved in the new find.

"All of them have nicknames, but their main names were Seshseshet."

Also, at least two funerary estates—special parcels of land that provided food for the funerary cults of high officials—were named after her, a practice Kanawati compared to naming modern cities after important historical figures.

"Washington was a famous figure in American history, and Seshseshet was an important person, certainly for the king."

Continued on Next Page >>


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