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Tomb of Queen Meresankh III (G 7530-7540)

Queen Meresankh III is the owner of the 4th Dynasty mastaba, one of the most beautiful and best-preserved tombs in the Eastern Cemetery of Giza, Egypt.

You're standing inside the tomb of Queen Meresankh III, grandaughter of King Khufu who built the Great Pyramid and wife of King Khafre.
Her exquisitely decorated tomb contains scenes of the queen, her mother, and her family, and has been a place of worship for thousands of years.
Meresankh is painted many times in her tomb along with her mother, Hetepheres, on the left. Here she is wearing a leopard-skin garment and followed by her oldest son, Nebemakhet.
Hetepheres's outfit has been the subject of much discussion. She is wearing a robe with pointed shoulders and yellow wig painted with red lines.
In the northern chamber of the offering chapel is a row of 10 statues cut into the living rock of the wall, an uncommon way of decorating tombs at Giza.
All of these statues represent women, which is uncommon in the male-dominated society of Egypt. Although they are not labeled, they serve to emphasize Meresankh's position among her queenly relatives.
This wall depicts Meresankh and her mother Queen Hetepheres II in a scene sailing along the Nile river and picking papyrus plants to offer to the great goddess, Hathor.
Before them, offering bearers carry baskets on their heads of bread, fruit, and meat while others trap birds and herd animals which will become part of the funerary feast and tomb offerings.
Right next to Meresankh and Hetepheres is Queen Meresankh's Father, Kawab, the largest painted figure in the tomb. His tomb is nearby Meresankh's, close to the Great Pyramid. He stands dressed in a priestly white sash.
Above is a small window. This window would've shed light on the false door directly opposite it during certain times of the year.
The light from the window fell directly in the central column on the false door that you see here. There were wooden doors in the threshold that worshippers opened for ceremonies.
These female figures are depicted embracing and holding hands to indicate maternal love and affection. They are carved in the western wall because the West is the land of the dead.
As many of the heiroglyphs are unpainted here, you can see that Meresankh's tomb was unfinished at time of death. Many are led to believe that Meresankh's death was unexpected as a result.
This stairway leads down the tomb shaft, where the sarcophagus and body of Meresankh were laid to rest.
The sarcophagus of Meresankh had the name of her mother, Hetepheres, engraved on it but scratched out. Meresankh's name was written underneath.
Along with the etching of Meresankh’s name, there was an inscription left by her mother, which read: "I gave the sarcophagus to my daughter - Meresankh, who was loved."
Meresankh's tomb was rediscovered and excavated in 1927. The body of Meresankh and her sarcophagus are at the Grand Egyptian Museum today.

Located in the Eastern Cemetary in the Giza Plateau,

The Tomb of Queen Meresankh III is directly below the pyramid of Khufu, which you can see in the panoramic image. You can explore the Eastern Cemetery and other tombs at Giza here.

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The elaborate wall-paintings in the Tomb of Queen Meresankh III are unlike any other

At the Giza Plateau, this tomb is the most richly ornamented of all. In recent years, archaeologists have used advanced technologies and laser scanners to study and make a reconstruction of the colors of paint within the tomb to offer a possible recreation of what the tomb may have looked like.

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Unique for the 5th-dynasty time period

The statues carved in the living rock fo the wall are all female. Archaeologist George Reisner, who excavated the tomb in 1927, writes "In the row of ten female statues cut in the northern wall of the inner chamber on the north, Hetep-heres II is on the right while the youngest daughter of Meresankh is on the left."

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In this scene of the wall, Hetepheres and Meresankh sail together on the Nile

They are pulling papyrus flowers to offer to the great goddess Hathor. Before them, offering bearers carry baskets on their heads of bread, fruit, and meat, while others trap birds and herd animals which will become part of the funerary feast and tomb offerings.

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The window in Meresankh's tomb shone light onto a false door in her chapel

The chamber that the window shone light on is the main area for her funerary cult, where select priests would come to present food and drink offerings to her spirit before yet another false door, highlighting its importance as the center of her worship.

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At the time of burial, the tomb was unfinished

You can observe on this wall that many of the hieroglyphs aren't fully finished being painted. Archaeologist Reisner writes, "In the western inner room the walls were never finished and several stages are preserved of the technical process of preparing the reliefs." This leads some to believe that Meresankh's death was sudden or unexpected.

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The black granite sarcophagus and lid of Queen Meresankh III

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The underground room would have been filled with offerings

of the sorts of luxurious and costly items that appear painted on the walls of my chapel up above. Meresankh's mother gave her the black stone sarcophagus which she originally had made for herself and inscribed with her own name and titles. Instead, she had Meresankh's name carved on it so that it might hold the wooden coffin that Meresankh was buried in to protect her throughout the ages.

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In 1927, on the last day of the dig season, archaeologists rediscovered the tomb

A team of Egyptian and American archaeologists from the Harvard University-Boston Museum of Fine Arts expeditions excavated the Tomb of Queen Meresankh III and recognized it as one of the most unique and intensely beautfiul tombs in Egypt.

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