Substructure of Meryneith/Meryre's tomb

subterranean chamber in the tomb of Meryneit

The 6 metres deep shaft and the upper level of the subterranean chambers had already been explored in a summary way in 2001. During the 2002 season the whole complex could be completely emptied, and in 2009 it was examined again. Meryneith seems to have reused an Old Kingdom shaft, which broke into an even earlier Archaic Period complex. This complex can be dated to the 2nd Dynasty on the basis of stone vessels and pottery found in the galleries. It seems to have consisted of four galleries with shallow lateral niches forming a square around the central burial chamber and a large rectangular hall. Access from the desert surface was originally by means of a sloping stairway, blocked by a portcullis at the lower end. Presumably, the tomb-owner was a member of the royal family or a high official.

During the New Kingdom, a single tomb-chamber was added at the end of a short corridor to the north of the shaft. Only some sherds of pottery and three inlays for wooden coffins date to this period. All the other funerary objects were presumably removed during the Late Period (c. 5th century BC), when the subterranean complex was reused for the burial of numerous mummies. No (unambiguous) remains of Meryneith's burial have been preserved. The complex was considerably extended towards the east, new shafts broke in through the ceilings, and an inner shaft with six additional niches was sunk in one of the floors. Later constructions caused several breakthroughs to adjacent tombs; one of these, dating to the New Kingdom, was emptied by the Expedition in 2002, another Late Period complex in 2009. Both these tombs contained a number of New Kingdom relief blocks or stela fragments that had fallen down the shafts or were reused as covering slabs for burial pits.