The 5,000-year-old tomb of Queen Meresankh III, granddaughter of King Khufu, offers many firsts to visitors looking to explore the famous pyramids of Giza. Built at a time when Egypt was one of the richest and most powerful civilisations in the world, it lies forlorn today, but holds many surprises. The Egyptian Tourist Board has been inviting travellers to delve deep into the many treasures of Giza.
As soon as you step in through the small opening of the underground chapel, you will find paintings of two craftsmen on either side—the painter Rahay and the sculptor Inkaef. No other pyramid—at least the excavated ones—boasts any sculpture or painting of craftspeople, making this discovery a unique one here. In fact, on one wall of the extremely well-preserved pyramid, one also finds a niche containing the sculpture of a scribe busy at work.
With Matterport as your tour guide, you can select the mode that makes you feel more comfortable—the doll’s house or the floor level mode with scales.
Take a few steps towards the south wall of the chapel, and you can spot life-size paintings of Queen Meresankh and her mother. Zoom in and you will see the two royals flanked by bearers carrying food atop their heads while a few herd cattle or trap birds—all in preparation of the final funerary feast.
A little further on, is another painting of the two sailing on the Nile. Thanks to new technology and VR viewing, one can see the well-preserved pigments of azure, gold, yellow and red. The floor to ceiling painting of Meresankh’s father depicted in priestly robes is the largest artwork in this tomb. With the help of Harvard’s reconstruction tool, one can actually see the original glory of the images inside the pyramid. In fact, the Harvard site has an animated video production with 3D imaging that gives a guided overall tour of the Giza Plateau.
Across the southern wall of the chapel you’ll find Meresankh sculpted along with her female relatives—10 sculptures in all. This is another surprise. The society in those days was largely male-dominated, very rarely would one find pyramids filled with female sculptures or paintings. From the upper chapel, there are steps leading to the real tomb and the burial spot which once contained the black sarcophagus in which resided Meresankh’s mortal remains. Broken steps here and there, this hollow, cavernous burial chamber was once filled with costly and invaluable luxuries. Some of the artifacts can be seen at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo—Matterport gives an easy link.
review: Virtual Tour
pyramids of Giza