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Pyramid Complex of Sesostris III

12th Dynasty

Intact burials


Discovery of tombs in the pyramid complex of Sesostris III by Jacques de Morgan in 1894 :

 Jacques De Morgan was a French civil engineer by trade before he began to exlplore the near east. He was 37 when he arrived at Dashur to investigate the structures there. In the first few days of March 1894, he was excavating in the enclosure of the pyramid when he found fragments of blocks which gave the name of the pyramid - Sesostris III. De Morgan continued his labours and eventually he located the entrance which led the way to the looted burial chamber.
Following this discovery he then turned his attention to the areas on the northern side of the pyramid - these proved to be the tombs of the members of the royal family.

De Morgan describes the discovery of the undergound galleries:

"The meticulous examination of the ground of these galleries disclosed, on the sixth of March, a rectangular cavity excavated in the rock at the foot of the sarcophagus. The terrain was loose, and the foot of one of the workmen sank into the middle of the debris. After a few blows with a pickaxe the hiding-place-for such it was- revealed its treasures; jewellery of gold and of silver, gems and precious stones were there, mingled with the fragments of a casket in which they had been enclosed. This square box, of about 30 centimetres along the side, existed only in a state of dust, but we found the gold leaf with which it had been encrusted, and the hieroglyphs of silver which had composed the name of the owner of the treasure." 

The map (left) shows the layout of the two galleries which held the burials of princesses.

Although the mummies had disappeared in antiquity (most likely carried off by tomb robbers), De Morgan was still able to make amazing discoveries of royal jewels (both of Princess Sithathor and Queen Meret).

De Morgan continues:

"The ancient people, at the time of the burial, knowing full well that the riches accumulated in the sarcophagus, in the offering chambers and on the mummies themselves, would one day fall a prey to robbers, had carefully hidden the bijoux of Princess Hathor-Sat in a place where no one would suspect their existence. It was thus that they escaped the ancient robbers, and that, thanks to the meticulous care with which the least dust was raised from the galleries, that they were discovered by the Department of Antiquities."

Some examples of the items found from Queen Meret's burial:

 pectoral with cartouche of Amenemhet III

gold belt and ankle bracelet

pectoral with cartouche of Sheshonq III