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The Mysterious Tomb Of Queen Hetepheres

1847 words - 8 pages

The Mysterious Tomb of Queen Hetepheres

Since the discovery and excavation of the tomb of Hetepheres on the Giza Plateau in February of 1925, people have been trying to restore its historic scenario as it was built and arguing about whether it is the true and original tomb of the queen, as many aspects of the tomb are unclear and confusing. The missing superstructure, the reverse arrangement order of furniture, the obviously hasty state of the chamber, the empty sarcophagus, and full ceremonies in the shaft are reasons why Egyptologists debate about how to interpret the tomb. Two well-known Egyptologists, George Andrew Reisner, the director of the excavation, and Mark Lehner, proposed two ...view middle of the document...

In Reisner's reconstruction, the original tomb was once robbed so it is reasonable to think that the reason why the reburial does not have a superstructure is to avoid a second robbery. If the shaft was not an official reburial tomb of the queen and called for secrecy, then there was no need to care about whether the closing of the shaft perfectly look alike the surrounding rocks. According to Lehner, however, Reisner’s interpretation does not follow Egyptian mortuary tradition. The superstructure is a core element of a mortuary complex in ancient Egypt and functions as a symbol of communication between the living and the deceased so as to ensure their smooth and luxurious afterlife. As secrecy purpose is personal and incomparable to the deep-rooted convention, it is hard to believe that a tomb would be purposely built without superstructure, even less a tomb of a royal queen.
Moreover, “the shaft was extraordinarily deep (over 27 m or 89 ft)” (Lehner 1997, 117) and that is nearly the height of a 9-floor building in current time. Construction of the tomb must be a big project that consumes large amount of time and labor force and it is implausible that the shaft could have been dug secretly at Giza as what Reisner purposed. Hence, Lehner believed that the tomb was not purposely built without superstructure, but was instead left unfinished. The shaft should have been covered with a pyramid but with the change of the plan for Khufu’s cemetery, the position of the pyramid changed as well. Therefore, the body and goods have to be transferred to the new one, which Lehner believed is G I a, the northernmost of the three queen pyramids. Fig. 8 (Lehner 1980, 42-43) is a scaled drawing showing how Hetepheres I’s funerary equipment might be placed in the burial chamber of G I a. It clearly proves that the dimensions of G I a were designed to let the furniture fit perfectly into the floor space of its burial chamber. This is a strong point that supports Lehner’s theory and makes it sound more reasonable than Reisner’s idea.
The furniture in the tomb was arranged in an unusual way. Everything was placed in reverse order rather than the traditional arrangement. For example, the coffin that was originally in the southwestern quarter, the inner corner of the old tomb, turns out to be located in the northeastern quarter, the position closest to the entrance of the Giza tomb (Reisner 1927, 23). Reisner explained the reverse placing as the result of transportation from the original tomb at Dahshur. “That is, those things which had been nearest the doorway of the original tomb had been taken out first and placed first in the Giza tomb” (Reisner 1927, 23). Evidence of the transportation would be the wooden boxes containing decayed clothes found in the shaft (Reisner 1927, 22). They prove that “the artifacts had been placed in boxes before being deposited in the burial chamber” (Lehner 1980, 19). Boxes function as containers in a tomb only when things call for...

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