The ancient Egyptians are still holding on to some of their secrets. This past weekend, archaeologists announced the discovery of a long-lost 4,400-year-old tomb, complete with some particularly rare dancing monkey murals.
In an announcement on Facebook, Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities said the tomb belonged to a woman called “Hetpet”, an elite member of the royal palace during the end of the Fifth Dynasty (2,494 BCE - 2,345 BCE) who served as a high priestess to the goddess of fertility and motherhood Hathor.
The tomb lies among a series of cemeteries in Saqqara, not far from the famous Pyramids of Giza, that have been slowly but surely excavated since they were first discovered in 1842.
The unique feature of her tomb is the paintings that cover the walls. Luckily for the project's archaeologists, the murals remain in remarkably good condition considering their age.
Along with depicting Hetpet herself in different hunting and fishing scenes, other parts of the mural show scenes of forging metals, picking fruit, and the building of papyrus boats. The walls also depict two monkey scenes, one showing a monkey dancing in front of an orchestra. Monkeys were commonly kept as pets at the time so it’s not uncommon to see them in paintings, however, this style of depiction is particularly unusual.
"Such scenes are rare... and have only been found previously in the (Old Kingdom) tomb of 'Ka-Iber' where a painting shows a monkey dancing in front of a guitarist not an orchestra," Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told AFP.
"A German expedition had found in 1909 a collection of antiquities carrying this lady's name, or a lady who has the same name, and these antiquities were moved to the Berlin museum at the time," he added. "And 109 years later, we find this tomb that carries Hetpet's name."
Meanwhile, the digging continues. The ministry plans to continue excavations on the site and remains totally confident that they'll find more treasures from the ancient past "very soon".