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The Tombs Of Beni Hassan

beni hassan

 

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 situated about 20 Kilometers south of Al Minya and 245 ‎kilometers south of Cairo.

 

This necropolis was established to bury the ‎dead provincial rulers during the Middle Kingdom on the ruins of a ‎much older burial site that was in use during the period of the Old Kingdom. ‎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 being buried 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 provinces and the local governors increased automatically and ‎viseversa.‎

 

Power Changes Reflected In Tombs

 

When the Pharaohs declared the centralization of the power and assigned a ‎governor for each region, the power of these local rulers and governors became much ‎less.‎

Due to their more elaborate layout and more 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 was established by Ikhnton in the 14th century ‎BC. ‎

 

Situated to the South of the city of Al Minya, Beni Hassan is just another small ‎village located at the beginning of the region of Upper Egypt. The Tombs of Beni ‎Hassan, the same as 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 layout. ‎These tombs are all situated on 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 of the tombs ‎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. Overall, however many of the ‎tombs of Beni Hassan are still definitely worth visiting.‎

 

Distinctive Features of the Tombs of Beni Hassan ‎

 

Although the Necropolis of Beni Hassan hosts around 39 tombs dating mostly to the ‎Middle Kingdom, only four out of them are open to the public, plus another tomb which ‎has no decorations. ‎The tombs of Beni Hassan are more distinctive than any other historical necropolis, enabling guests to view 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 that this was the City of the Living, while ‎the East Bank was the City of the Living. ‎

 

 

Many excavation missions have explored the Tombs of Beni Hassan as early as the ‎end of the 19th century as the Necropolis was studied by the Egypt Exploration Fund ‎that did a great job in the area ‎ The British Archeologist John Garstang unearthed some tombs ‎that belonged to the 6th and the 7th dynasties and many of the Tombs by Beni Hassan ‎were restored by the Egyptian Antiquities Authority at the beginning of the 20th ‎century.‎

 

The Tomb of Baqet ‎

 

San El HagarAlthough the Tomb of Baqet was numbered as the 15th tomb of Beni Hassan, BH15, ‎it was the first tomb to be excavated in the actual excavation. The ‎owner of the tomb 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 architectural features ‎to be noted while the tomb itself has a rectangular shape that was cut out of rock ‎with two pillars that has the popular shape of the lotus plant.‎

 

The walls situated in the Northern section of the tomb host many remarkable ‎paintings displaying the owner of the tomb during his daily life activities. Since ‎Baqet was the ruler of a province during the ruling period, he is represented hunting ‎for animals in the deserts of El Minya, chasing birds, and doing his daily duties ‎as a ruler.

 

On the other hand, the walls located in the eastern section of the tomb display some ‎scenes of different battles that took place in the region during the period of 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 the plan and the ‎design of his tomb look quite like that of his father. ‎The Tomb of Khety features six lotus shaped columns and its rectangular ‎shape, the same as that of Baqet. The paintings of the walls located 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 owner of the tomb accompanied by his wife and ‎supervising the activities taking place 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 located in the southern section of the tomb shows Khety supervising the ‎process of making wine and there are some burial rituals displayed in this section as ‎well.‎

 

The Tomb of Amenmehat ‎

 

Amenmehat lived during the 7th period and maybe this was why ‎the plan of his tomb is rather more complicated and the walls are more decorative ‎and better crafted. 

Amenmehat was the last official to be given an important royal name as he was ‎working as an official in a period when the governing system of Egypt was more ‎centralized and Amnenmehat 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 ‎recantgle 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 main theme of the paintings includes Amenmehat in different military and daily life activities. ‎ The southern wall has a scene of the owner of the tomb sitting with his wife at a ‎large table with many goods that were produced in the lands that he governed. ‎ There are also some remains of statues of Amenmahat, his wife, and his mother ‎presenting the gods with offerings, a feature that was common as well in the earlier tombs ‎in Beni Hassan.

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