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GIZA, Egypt — More than 4,500 years since the paint was first applied, the reds, yellows and blues still stand out on the walls of the tomb of Queen Meresankh III.

A hunter throws a net to catch water birds, craftsmen make papyrus mats, and a stream of people carry baskets filled with offerings for the afterlife.

Decorating the walls all around are paintings, reliefs, and statues of Meresankh, draped in a leopard-skin cloak, standing beside her mother in a boat pulling papyrus stems through the water, or being entertained by musicians and singers.

Egypt’s tourism industry has been battered since last year’s revolution, but here, beside the pyramids of Giza, officials are trying to attract the visitors back.


The tomb of Meresankh, whose name means lover of life, will be opened to the public for the first time in nearly 25 years later this year, and five tombs of high priests — buried under the desert sands for decades — also will be opened.

‘‘We want to give people a reason to come back, to give them something new,’’ said Ali Asfar, director general of archeology on the Giza plateau.

Meresankh’s tomb lies a stone’s throw east of the Great Pyramid of her grandfather, the pharaoh Khufu, better known as Cheops.

Her parents were brother and sister, and she married another of Khufu’s children — her uncle, Khafre, better known as Chephren, who built the second-largest pyramid here.

When Meresankh died suddenly, her mother gave her own burial chamber.

American archeologist George Reisner wrote of his delight at discovery in 1927 as his team members poked their heads through a gap at the top of the sand-filled doorway.

‘‘Our eyes were first startled by the vivid colors of the reliefs and inscriptions around the northern part of this large chamber. None of us had ever seen anything like it,’’ he wrote in the magazine of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where a statuette of Meresankh and her mother is now housed.


On the other side of the Great Pyramid, the western cemetery houses the tombs of high priests, such as Kaemankh, the royal treasurer and keeper of the king’s secrets.

It took site inspector Ashraf Mohie El Din and a team of more than 50 people around five months to clear about a meter of sand that had blanketed the area and clean the tombs.

Mohie El Din said that climbing the ladder into Kaemankh’s burial chamber was ‘‘one of my favorite adventures.’’

To the south of Cairo, authorities are also planning to reopen the famous Serapeum at Sakkara, a massive underground temple where sacred bulls were thought to have been buried in the huge granite and basalt sarcophagi — each weighing 60 to 100 tons — that sit in chambers flanking the long galleries.