It paid to be a royal servant in Ancient Egypt! Stunning tombs of pharaohs' butlers are opened following restoration of elaborate paintings
- Blocks showing Queen Hatshepsut as a woman have been discovered
- Found on Island of Elephantine, Aswan, they are rare, with most destroyed
- Hatshepsut dressed like a male pharaoh and ruled with Thutmosis III
- Stepson resented her power and got revenge by removing her from history
Four tombs belonging to the royal butlers of Queen Hatshepsut and King Ramses II have opened to the public.
They contain richly decorated walls showing ancient Egyptian gods including Osiris and Anubis, who was associated with mummification and the afterlife.
Four tombs belonging to the royal butlers of Queen Hatshepsut and King Ramses II have opened to the public. The decoration of one is shown above, including the god Hathor, shown as a cow above the archway. The Egyotian goddess personified the principles of joy, feminine love, and motherhood
Egypt's Minister of Antiquities Dr Khaled El-Enany opened the tombs, which date from the 18th and 19th Dynasties around 3,500 years ago and have been been lovingly restored.
Tomb number TT 110 belongs to 'the Chief Royal Butler of Queen Hatshepsut, Djehuty' and is located at the Sheikh Abdel Qurna Area, on Luxor's west bank.Queen Hatshepsut had herself crowned in around 1,473BC, changing her name from the female version Hatshepsut - which means Foremost of the Noble Ladies - to the male version, Hatshepsu.
Born into the most advanced civilisation in the ancient world, Hatshepsut commandeered the throne of Egypt from her young stepson, Thutmosis III, and, in an unprecedented move, declared herself pharaoh.
Egypt's Minister of Antiquities Dr Khaled El-Enany opened the tombs, which date from the 18th and 19th Dynasties and have been restored. This one appears to show scenes of daily life in Luxor
Tomb number TT 110 belongs to 'the Chief Royal Butler of Queen Hatshepsut, Djehuty' and is located at the Sheikh Abdel Qurna Area, on Luxor's west bank. This decoration shows Anubis bent over a mummy
THE WRITING ON THE WALL
The hieroglyphs on the wall include the names of the butlers buried in the tombs.
Anubis is seen bending over a sarcophagus. The jackal-headed god is associated with mummification as the underworld.
Hathor, displayed as a cow is also seen in the tombs.
The goddess personified the principles of joy, feminine love, and motherhood and was one of the most important and popular deities.
Set is pictured in one of the tombs.
He was god of the desert, storms, disorder, violence and foreigners in ancient Egyptian religion.
Horus is shown as a falcon.
Since Horus was said to be the sky and was also said to control the sun and moon.
To cement her position as the first female ruler, she donned the traditional clothes, head-dress and even the false beard traditionally worn by male pharaohs of Egypt.
The tomb of her butler is T-shaped, which is typical of the the 18th Dynasty and has a pillared hall and a burial shaft.
Restoration began in 2012 and required a lot of work because the tomb was found in poor condition.
The other three tombs belong to Imn Nakht, Nebenmaat and Kha'Emteri who held the same title of 'Servant in the Place of Truth' during the reign of king Ramesses II.
He reigned between 1,279 and 1,213BC and is often regarded as the greatest, most celebrated, and most powerful pharaoh of the Egyptian Empire.
He led successful military campaigns into Canaan and Nubia and built many cities, temples and monuments.
All the butlers belong to the same family. Imn Nakht, was the father of Nebenmaat – his eldest son – and Kha'Emteri, the youngest.
The tombs share the same entrance, corridor and ante-chamber which are branched out into three burial chambers with a mud brick chapel in each.
While Imn Nakht's tomb is multi-coloured, like most of the Deir El-Medina tombs those of his sons are painted in one colour.
Archaeologists have discovered a number of carved blocks that probably belonged to an unknown building of Queen Hatshepsut that show her female form. A re-purposed pillar from the building is shown
Last month, archaeologists discovered a number of carved blocks that likely belonged to an unknown building of Queen Hatshepsut that show how her image was changed.
Many monuments of Hatshepsut, who was considered 'both king and queen,' were destroyed, so images of her represented as a woman are extremely rare.
They were discovered by the German Archaeological Institute on the Island of Elephantine, Aswan.
One block shows how the woman's form was changed to that of a male and another, how her cartouche - a lozenge bearing her name - was scratched away.
Ancient Egyptian Antiquities expert Dr Mahmoud Afify said the building from which the blocks came must have been erected during the early years of her reign, before she began to be represented as a male king.
Dr Mahmoud Afify said the building from which the blocks came must have been erected during the early years of her reign, before she began to be represented as a male king. This image shows a female representation of Hatshepsut (highlighted by red lines) that was later replaced by the image of a male king
All mentions of Hatshepsut's (illustrated left) name were erased by Thutmosis on taking power (an erased cartouche that would have held her name is shown left) and all representations of her female figure were replaced by images of a male king
Queen Hatshepsut is thought to have reigned with little opposition for more than two decades before dying in around 1458 BC.
But all mentions of Hatshepsut's name were erased by Thutmosis on taking power and all representations of her female figure were replaced by images of a male king - her deceased husband Thutmosis II.
Only very few buildings from this early stage of her career have been discovered so far, with the only other examples having been found at Karnak, making the 'new' blocks extremely rare.
The Egyptian Antiquities Authority said the newly discovered building sheds light on the early reign of the queen and that of Thutmosis III who is now known as the 'Napoleon of Egypt' so successful was he during his military campaign.
Dr Felix Arnold, the field director of the mission, said the building from which the blocks came probably served as a waystation for the festival barque of the god Khnum – the potter god of creation.
The mysterious blocks were discovered by the German Archaeological Institute on the Island of Elephantine (marked on the map above) in Aswan, Egypt
Born into the most advanced civilisation in the ancient world, Hatshepsut (shown) commandeered the throne of Egypt from her young stepson, Thutmosis III, and, in an unprecedented move, declared herself pharaoh
The building was later dismantled and about 30 of its blocks have now been found in the foundations of the Khnum temple of Nectanebo II – a pharaoh who ruled between 360 and 342 BC.
Some of the blocks were discovered in previous excavation seasons by members of the Swiss Institute, but the meaning of the blocks has only now become clear, showing the queen as a woman early in her reign.
Thanks to the discovery of the blocks, the original appearance of the building can be reconstructed and experts believe it comprised a chamber for the barque of the god Khnum, which was surrounded on all four sides by pillars.
The pillars bear representations of several versions of the god, as well as others such as Imi-peref 'He-who-is-in-his-house', Nebet-menit 'Lady-of-the-mooring-post' and Min-Amun of Nubia.
'The building thus not only adds to our knowledge of the history of Queen Hatshepsut but also to our understanding of the religious beliefs current on the Island of Elephantine during her reign,' the authority said.
A QUEEN IN A MAN'S WORLD AND A TALE OF REVENGE
As a woman living in Egypt's golden age, Hatshepsut was not destined for kingship.
She was prohibited by her gender from ascending the throne even though she was of royal lineage.
Egypt's gods had supposedly decreed that the king's role could never be fulfilled by a woman and although a pharaoh needed a queen to reign with him, she could never rule alone – although later there were notable exceptions.
Hatshepsut refused to submit to this and, to get round the rule, claimed she was married to the king of the gods and therefore had as much right to sit on the throne as any previous pharaoh.
Hatshepsut had herself crowned (illustrated) in around 1,473BC, changing her name from the female version Hatshepsut - which means Foremost of the Noble Ladies - to the male version, Hatshepsu
Her brazen approach worked and she had herself crowned in around 1,473BC, changing her name from the female version Hatshepsut - which means Foremost of the Noble Ladies - to the male version, Hatshepsu.
She reinforced her power by decorating the temples of the gods with portraits of herself in the pharaoh's traditional kilt, wearing all his symbols of office including the black pointed royal beard.
While conducting affairs of state surrounded by male courtiers, she may even have worn men's clothes.
However, previously-found statues show that early in her reign she liked tight-fitting gowns which showed off her figure and is said to have had a habit of bedding her cabinet ministers.
Hatshepsut was the first but not the only woman ruler of male dominated ancient Egypt.
Nefertiti followed her and then Cleopatra took power 1,500 years later, but neither took the title pharaoh like Hatshepsut.
She showed ruthless ambition and exceptional tenacity for the times in which she lived.
Hatshepsut was the first but not the only woman ruler of male dominated ancient Egypt. Nefertiti (bust pictured left) followed her and then Cleopatra (relief shown right) took power 1,500 years later, but neither took the title pharaoh like Hatshepsut
As a result this mysterious and courageous female ruler rewrote the early story of her country and has been called the first great woman in history.
Hatshepsut insisted she had been made official heir to the throne by her father, the pharaoh Thutmosis I.
The pharaoh had several sons who predeceased him and turned to his daughter to safeguard the throne.
What immediately followed was not unusual. Hatshepsut married a much younger half-brother, also called Thutmosis, whereupon she became queen.
Marriages between siblings were the custom in those days and at first the couple reigned together.
But then her brother/husband died, with the markings on his mummy suggesting he suffered from a hideous skin disease.
Hatshepsut became regent for another Thutmosis, her husband's son by a harem girl. By now she was not content simply to be regent.
Within two years she had taken all the power for herself and was running the country from its capital Thebes, donned in her false beard and all the traditional regalia of kingship.
For many years she and her stepson seemed to have lived happily with this arrangement.
She ruled while Thutmosis concentrated on his military career. So successful was he that historians know him as the Napoleon of Egypt.
Historians suspect these campaigns were an excuse to escape from the influence of his merciless step-mother.
She ruled while Thutmosis (shown in a relief wearing an Atef crown) concentrated on his military career. So successful was he that historians know him as the Napoleon of Egypt
She was becoming so powercrazed in her last years that Thutmosis even feared for his life.
In his absence, Hatshepsut built breathtaking temples in her own honour. They were decorated with reliefs telling how she came to the throne of Egypt and with farfetched stories about her divine connections.
Hatshepsut ruled as a master politician and stateswoman for 20 years.
She died around the age of 50 of cancer, according to recent research and expected to be buried in her finest and best-known temple near the Valley of the Kings.
But it appears Thutmosis III got his own back on the woman who usurped his throne, burying her in a lesser location.
He outlived Hatshepsut by 40 years and seems to have set out on a campaign to erase her name from history.
He threw her statues into the quarries in front of the grand temples she built and even defaced the images of her courtiers.