Beni Suif Antiquities Still Peeking Through
July 6th 2001
By Amargi Hiller
(Maidoum) The antiquities in Beni Suif are considered an open museum. The antiquities there date back to the period before the Dynasties, passing through the Greek, Polemic, then Islamic eras. Beni Suif is considered a historical archives due to the amount of antiquities in it.
Ahmed Galah, Supervisor of Beni Suif Antiquities, confirms that the governate of Beni Suif is rich in antiquities. He talks a little about the Maidoum Pyramid.
These antiquities in Beni Suif are concentrated in seven main centers. On the top of the list is the Maidoum area which was known in old scripts as Mir-Tum. This means the Beloved Goddess Atum, Goddess of the Sun during sunset. This area contains a pyramid which was built with 8 terraces. Then it was cased to look like a smooth pyramid. The Maidoum Pyramid was considered an upgrade in pyramid construction by the ancient Egyptians. It was built by King Snefru but its foundation was built by King Hotie, the last king of the 3rd Dynasty. There are only 4 terraces left from the pyramid at a height of 45 meters. The entrance is 20 meters high which leads to a 57 meter long passage. On the eastern side of the pyramid is found a burial temple and remnants of the road leading to it. The burial temple contains two carvings upon two limestone walls and in between them is a sacrificial table. Surrounding the pyramid are 22 mastabas for the burial of the followers of the King, and the Royal Family itself. One important mastaba found there is mastaba #16 for Prince Nefermath and his wife. Mastaba #17, which is the largest of the mastabas in this area, holds the oldest sarcophagus made from granite. But the most important mastaba is #8 owned by Ra- Hotep and his wife Nefert. Her name means The Beautiful and this mastaba is now placed in the Egyptian Museum at Tahrir.
As for other antiquities in the area, Ahanasya lies on an area of 360 feddans and it was known by the ancient name of Haten Masoot, which means the City of Royal Child. Its local god was called Harishaf. The centers original name evololved to the name Hanasy during the Coptic era at the time of El-Ayyoubi. This name eventually became Ahanasya in modern times.
Ahanasya was an important place until the onset of the Roman Empire. During the Pharaonic times many myths evolved from this area including the most important myth describing the crowning of Osiris to be King of Egypt. Ahanasya was the Royal City, while Menf was the
administration center for the country. Remnants of the Temple of the God Harishef were discovered in that area. The temple was completed by Ramsis II. Remnants include 4 granite pillars, some pottery, and an assortment of statues.
Inside the surrounding hills are found burial chambers consisting of tombs built and carved in stone dating back between the 1st and 5th Dynasties. The most famous one is the Tomb of Ra-Ha-Shetef which means the Great Companion and the Beloved Great God. He also held the title of the Keeper of the Royal Garden. In his tomb they found small statues representing different stages of his life. These statues were placed in his tomb so that his soul would be eased during his journey in the afterlife.
Another Beni Suif area is the El-Modeal center. Here is found a Coptic burial ground. Ancient artifacts in this area include pottery, ivory jewelry, and old lighting tools. Most notable in this area was the discovery of ancient scripts of the Prophet David, which were written in Coptic. These scripts contain portions of the Old Testament and they were written upon a piece of leather.
Mr. Wafik Hegab, Head of the Office of Tourism Coordination for the Beni Suif governate, said that the Samsata center area contains numerous antiquities which date back to the Greek and Roman empires in addition to Coptic buildings. The Abu-Hashima graves date back to the Roman Empire. Also there are antiquities which date back to the 5th Dynasty and modern ancient Egypt. Carvings on tombs tell the story of wars, farms, hunting and sacrificial ceremonies. A statue of Nin-Khaftik, made from limestone, is now one of the most valuable objects in the British Museum.
The Beni Suif area is also known for the Edi Satoor Cave which is 65 million years old. The cave is considered a phenomenon as it is a semi-cylindrical hollowing out with a diameter of 80 meters. The depth of the hollowing is 43 meters and a spiral passage which is 150 meters long.