Czech archaeologists in Egypt have unearthed a tomb of a previously unknown queen believed to be the wife of a pharaoh who ruled about 4,500 years ago, Egyptian officials announced Sunday, according to media reports. The tomb, along with limestone and copper utensils, was reportedly excavated at Abu Sir, 15 miles southwest of the capital city of Cairo.
Miroslav Barta, an archaeologist who headed the team from the Czech Institute of Egyptology, which made the discovery, reportedly said that since the tomb was found inside Pharaoh Neferefre's funeral complex, it is believed that it belonged to the pharaoh's wife. Neferefre was an Egyptian pharaoh of the Fifth Dynasty who is believed to have ruled between 2448 BC and 2445 BC.
“This discovery reveals an unknown part of the Fifth Dynasty history which opens the door for more future studies on the family tree of this previously unknown Queen,” Barta reportedly said.
The pharaohs of the Fifth Dynasty reigned for about 150 years between 2494 BC and 2345 BC. A number of pyramids of the Fifth Dynasty rulers and temples dedicated to the sun god Ra have been found at or near Abu Sir. It is also believed that Abu Sir was used as a cemetery during the Old Kingdom of Egypt, which encompasses the Fifth Dynasty and lasted from 2686 BC to 2181 BC.
The queen was identified by archaeologists as Khentakawess, which was the name found inscribed on the walls of her tomb, according to media reports. The discovery would reportedly make her Khentakawess III, as two previous queens with the same names have already been identified. While Khentakawess I was a queen of the Fourth Dynasty, Khentakawess II is believed to be Neferefre’s mother.
“This is the first time we have discovered the name of this queen who had been unknown before the discovery of her tomb,” Mamdouh el-Damaty, Egypt’s antiquities minister, reportedly said, in a statement. “This discovery will help us shed light on certain unknown aspects of the Fifth Dynasty, which along with the Fourth Dynasty, witnessed the construction of the first pyramids.”