Stone chest found in ancient temple and containing skeleton of a sacrificial goose could lead to hidden royal tomb

The extraordinary find, which was hidden near the renowned Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, indicates an untouched royal tomb could be nearby. Professor Andrzej Niwiński

Archaeologists have uncovered a stone chest from 3,500 years ago in rubble above the Egyptian site of Deir el-Bahari.

The extraordinary find, which was hidden near the renowned Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, indicates an untouched royal tomb could be nearby.

Several packages wrapped in linen canvas were kept inside the chest.Professor Andrzej Niwiński

Several packages wrapped in linen canvas were kept inside the chest.

One held a skeleton of a sacrificial goose, the other its egg. In the third bundle, there was a wooden box with what’s most probably an ibis’s egg.

Archaeologists made the extraordinary find in rubble above the Egyptian site of Deir el-Bahari.Nowic/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Professor Andrzej Niwiński from the Warsaw University’s Institute of Archaeology told PAP: “The chest itself is about 40 cm long, with a slight smaller height. It was perfectly camouflaged, looked like an ordinary stone block.

“Only after a closer look did it turn out to be a chest.” Next to it, the archaeologists found a folded bundle.

In the case of the bundle, the four layers of linen canvas covered a wooden box, in which there was a faience box in the shape of a chapel. It contained one of the names of Pharaoh Thutmose II.

Prof. Niwiński is optimistic that his team is close to uncovering the untouched burial place of pharaoh Thutmose II.Press materials/Facebook

Prof. Niwiński, who is leading the excavation team, said: “The royal deposit proves the fact that either a temple was established in the king's name or the king's tomb.

“Since we are in the centre of the royal cemetery, it is definitely a tomb. Finding this deposit indicates that we are in the process of discovering the tomb."

The chest is about 40 cm long, with a slight smaller height, which Prof. Niwiński said “was perfectly camouflaged, looked like an ordinary stone block.”Professor Andrzej Niwiński

Apart from pharaoh’s name, the symbolism of the other objects they found also points to the fact, that the deposit was made in his name.

Thutmose II was the husband of the famous queen and his half-sister Hatshepsut, though their marriage was most probably dictated by dynastic interest.

Thutmose was only 13 when they wed and died three years later in 1479 BC.

Deir el-Bahari has been the site of work for Polish archaeologists for almost 60 years since the father of Polish archaeology, Professor Kazimierz Michałowski, led a mission in 1961 to document and preserve the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut.Harry Weinberg/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Poland license

During his reign, he was overshadowed by his wife, who would later crown herself pharaoh and become one of the best known rulers of ancient Egypt.

The stone chest’s discovery, now made public, took place in March last year. The archaeologist continued their work in October 2019, but so far they haven’t found the entrance to the royal tomb.

A faience box in the shape of a chapel contained the name of Pharaoh Thutmose II who was the husband of the famous queen and his half-sister Hatshepsut. Pictured: Thutmose II’s mummified head.Public domain

Still, Prof. Niwiński is optimistic that they are close to uncovering an untouched Royal tomb.

Deir el-Bahari has been the site of work for Polish archaeologists for almost 60 years. It started in 1961, when the father of Polish archaeology, Professor Kazimierz Michałowski, led a mission to document and preserve the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut.