BENI HASAN





Beni Hasan is a site located on the east bank of the Nile about 250km south of Cairo. The site is an important provincial necropolis containing about 930 tombs which span the period from the 6th Dynasty to the 12th Dynasty (2200-1785 BC). The upper tombs on the terrace were excavated and recorded by Percy Newberry and George Fraser from 1890 to 1891 with the assistance of the young Howard Carter. The 890 pit burials of the lower necropolis were cleared by John Garstang between 1902 and 1904. They contained numerous intact burials yielding a wealth of archaeological information.

The most significant monuments are the 40 large rock cut tombs belonging to the nomarchs (provincial governors) of the Oryx-nome. Most of these large decorated tombs date to the end of the 11th Dynasty and the 12th Dynasty. The best preserved paintings are in the tombs of the officials Amenemhet (no.2), Khnum-hotep (no.l3), Baqet III (no.15) and Khety (no.17). The themes represented on the walls consist of a wide variety of themes which includes activities of daily life such as baking and brewing, harvesting, pottery making and dancing. Other scenes of particular interest are the tableaux of battle scenes on the east walls of the chapel and scenes of wrestling in which the two combatants are distinguished by variations in skin colour. The inscriptions in some of the tombs appear to refer to civil strife which may hark back to the troubles of the First Intermediate period or the accession of Amenemhet I at the beginning of the 12th Dynasty. Tomb 3, belonging to Khnum-hotep, contains a long biographical text describing the promotion of the tomb owner under Amenemhet II (1929-1895 BC). The same tomb also shows a procession of Near Easterners, the chief of whom is describe as a 'Ruler of foreign lands' of Hyksos.