Like other royal tombs, the queen's burial chamber was once filled with treasures that were taken by thieves centuries after her death.
But in this case, the tomb raiders actually helped current excavations by creating a path into the chamber. (Related: "Egyptian Dentists' Tombs Found by Thieves" [October 23, 2006].)
The thieves entered through a tunnel from the top, because they couldn't get through the main entrance, said Hawass, who is also a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence. (The National Geographic Society owns National Geographic News.)
Fortunately, Seshseshet's mummy was inside a granite sarcophagus with a six-ton lid, so the thieves left the body and its decorations of gold jewelry untouched.
"They didn't open the sarcophagus; they were using their hands," said Hawass, whose team used heavy machinery to remove the lid.
Tomb With Bare Walls
The archaeologists noted that Seshseshet's 172-square-foot (16-square-meter) burial chamber didn't have text inscriptions on its walls, helping to narrow the time frame for when the practice began in women's tombs.
Tomb inscriptions for women existed during the time of Pepy I, who succeeded an unnamed usurper who reigned for two years following Teti's assassination.
This means that Seshseshet was among the last of Egypt's queens buried without inscriptions.
Her name and royal status remain part of history, however, in part because her description has been found on fragments of stone from Saqqara and her name was written inside the tombs of important officials of her time.
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