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About the Tombs of Beni Hassan ‎


The burial chamber of Beni Hassan dates back to the Middle Kingdom, from 2055 until 1650 B.C. The tombs of Beni Hassan are carved into some ‎limestone hills on the East Bank of the Nile. They are about 20 Kilometers south of Al Minya and 245 ‎kilometers south of Cairo.
This cemetery necropolis was established to bury the ‎dead provincial rulers during the Middle Kingdom on the ruins of a ‎much older burial site used during the Old Kingdom period. ‎This Necropolis belonged to the military ‎leaders and local rulers who chose to be buried in their provinces because of their ‎growing power and independence rather than near their kings in ‎Saqqara.‎ The Necropolis of Beni Hassan reflects the political differences between the ‎province's rulers and the kings. When the king became weaker, the ‎power of the rulers of regions and the local governors increased automatically and ‎vice-versa.‎

Power Changes Reflected In Tombs

When the Pharaohs declared the centralization of the power and assigned a ‎governor for each region, the authority of these local rulers and governors became much ‎less.‎
Due to their more elaborate layout and complex decorations, the tombs of Beni ‎Hassan mark a transition stage in the style of the tombs from the Old Kingdom to ‎the New Kingdom. ‎The journey to the Tombs of Beni Hassan can be organized as a one-day trip from ‎Cairo to view the tombs and the historical sites of Hermopolis and Tell El Amarna, ‎the center of the cult of Aton, which Ikhnton established in the 14th century ‎B.C. ‎
Situated to the South of the city of Al Minya, Beni Hassan is just another tiny ‎village located at the beginning of the region of Upper Egypt. The Tombs of Beni ‎Hassan, like many other historical necropolises in Egypt, are reached using a ‎staircase made of stones to travel up the hillside to where the tombs are located.‎ The Necropolis of Beni Hassan hosts a large number of tombs. However, there are ‎only thirty tombs that are important and contain attractive decorations and layouts. ‎These tombs are all situated at the same height, and the entrances to the tombs are ‎located on the same plateau. The ancient Egyptian paintings and drawings, with ‎exciting themes and everlasting bright colors, coat 12 of the tombs of Beni ‎Hassan. ‎ In some of these tombs, the mountains were cut to make the facades ‎appear at the same level; however, through the years, the colors on the tombs faded, and ‎many of the columns constructed inside them were damaged. However, many of Beni Hassan's tombs are still worth visiting.‎

Distinctive Features of the Tombs of Beni Hassan ‎

Although the Necropolis of Beni Hassan hosts around 39 tombs, mainly dating to the ‎Middle Kingdom, only four are open to the public, plus another tomb ‎has no decorations. ‎The tombs of Beni Hassan are more distinctive than any other historical necropolis, enabling guests to view the unique style of decoration that was ‎common in the Middle Kingdom, especially the bright-colored wall paintings.‎ Moreover, almost all the burial sites of ancient Egypt were established in the West ‎Bank of the Nile, as the Pharaohs thought this was the City of the Living, while ‎the East Bank was the City of the Living. ‎
Many excavation missions explored the Tombs of Beni Hassan as early as the ‎end of the 19th century when the Egypt Exploration Fund studied the Necropolis ‎and did a great job ‎ . The British archeologist John Garstang unearthed some tombs ‎that belonged to the 6th and 7th dynasties, and many of the Tombs of Beni Hassan ‎were restored by the Egyptian Antiquities Authority at the beginning of the 20th ‎century.‎
The Tomb of Baqet ‎


Although the Tomb of Baqet was numbered as the 15th tomb of Beni Hassan, BH15, ‎it was the first to be excavated in the actual excavation. The ‎tomb's owner was the governor of the El Minya during the reign of the 6th dynasty, ‎during the beginning of the 21st century B.C. ‎
The tomb of Baqet has a simple façade with no decorations or noteworthy architectural features. In contrast, the tomb is rectangular and cut out of rock ‎, with two pillars in the famous shape of the lotus plant.‎
The walls in the northern section of the tomb host many remarkable ‎paintings depicting the tomb's owner in his daily. Since ‎Baqet was the ruler of a province during this period, he was represented hunting ‎for animals in the deserts of El Minya, chasing birds, and performing his daily duties ‎as a ruler.
On the other hand, the walls located in the eastern section of the tomb display some ‎scenes of battles that took place in the region during the 6th ‎dynasty, a common feature of funerary paintings during this period.‎ The southern wall of the tomb, the most traditional among its walls, contains scenes ‎from the burial of Baqet, plus some other scenes of the owner of the tomb playing ‎sports and sitting with his family members.‎

The Tomb of Khety‎


Khety, the son of Baqet, worked in the same position as his father. He was a ruler of a ‎province situated near the city of El Minya. Maybe this was why his tomb's plan and  ‎design looked quite like his father's. ‎The Tomb of Khety features six lotus-shaped columns and is rectangular ‎, the same as that of Baqet. The paintings of the walls in the Eastern ‎and the Northern sections of the tomb display Khety during his hunting trips in the ‎deserts of the reign. ‎
There are also some scenes of the tomb's owner accompanied by his wife and ‎supervising the activities in the province they were ruling. This ‎included some scenes of women singing and dancing. The eastern wall of the tomb has some scenes of soldiers practicing to participate in ‎battles. The ancient Egyptian artist who brilliantly created this wall showed the ‎movement of the soldiers wonderfully by using different shades to show how each ‎soldier moved during his training. ‎The wall in the southern section of the tomb shows Khety supervising the ‎process of making wine, and some burial rituals are also displayed in this section.

The Tomb of Amenmehat ‎


Amenmehat lived during the 7th period, and maybe this was why ‎the plan of his tomb is somewhat more complicated, and the walls are more decorative ‎and better crafted. 
Amenmehat was the last official to be given an essential royal name as he was ‎working as an official in a period when the governing system of Egypt was more ‎centralized. Amenmehat used to report to the government in the capital of ‎Egypt at the time.‎
The design of the tomb of Amenmehat consists of a central courtyard and only two ‎pillars before the entrance to the main chapel of the tomb, which is in the shape of a ‎rectangle but with a bigger space.‎ The walls of the tomb of Amenmehat have paintings that look like other tombs in ‎Beni Hassan that were constructed earlier. The central theme of the paintings includes Amenmehat in different military and daily life activities. ‎ The southern wall has a scene of the tomb's owner sitting with his wife at a ‎large table with many goods produced in the lands he governed. ‎ There are also some remains of statues of Amenmahat, his wife, and his mother ‎presenting the gods with offerings, a common feature in the earlier tombs ‎in Beni Hassan.

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