Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ancient sarcophagus of Egyptian queen found

Archaeologists in Egypt have unearthed the sarcophagus of the mysterious Queen Behenu inside her pyramid's 4,000-year-old burial chamber, the inner walls of which are lined with hieroglyphic spells for the Queen's journey into the afterlife.

The team that discovered the tomb have little information on Behenu's identity, including which Pharaoh she was married to, because her tomb was scoured by tomb raiders and stonecutters throughout the centuries.

Ancient Egyptians believed that the souls of royalty could fly to heaven, or alternatively use stairs, ramps and ladders with the help of religious spells.

Such engraved spells, known as Pyramids Texts, were common in royal tombs during the 5th and 6th Dynasties, and are considered to be the oldest religious text in the world.

The tomb was uncovered by a French team that has been excavating the site for three years, in cooperation with Egyptian archaeologists.

Behenu's 25-meter-long pyramid was discovered in 2007 along with seven other pyramids of ancient queens at the well-known necropolis of Saqqara, south of Cairo, that served the nearby city of Memphis.

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