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The Tombs of Beni Hassan
by Georg Erbkam.

The Tombs of Beni Hasan

The problem with the Middle Kingdom of Ancient Egypt (about 2000 to 1800 BC) is it's associates. The Old Kingdom built such massive pyramids that they cannot be overlooked. The New Kingdom also built massively - often using Middle Kingdom stones rather than fetching their own. So the art of the Middle Kingdom can only be seen in a few places, although it is highly regarded by Egyptologists.

by Weidenbach


Antinopolis (Antæopolis, Antaeopolis, Kebyreh or Kebir) was the capital of the Oryx Nome of Upper Egypt. While parts of the temple remain, the main interest is the tombs, a region called Beni Hasan. Residents of nearby Hermopolis Magna (Hare Nome) were also buried here. The tombs are curiously on the East side of the Nile, rather than the West as was usual. High on the desert cliffs were buried the leaders of the two Nomes, 39 have been found so far.

Antinopolis from La Description de lEgypte, 1809

Re-creation of Antinopolis from La Description de l'Egypte, 1809

Burial of these nobles was similar to that of the Pharaohs, on a smaller scale. Scenes of the life of the owner were usually painted rather than carved into the walls.

Column from Hermopolis by Johann Minutoli 1824 These columns were 40 feet-12 Meters-high and 9 feet in diameter.

Hermopolis Magna

Hermopolis Magna (Khmun or Khnum) was the capital of Hare Nome and was the second largest city in Egypt after Thebes during the Middle Kingdom. Very little remains today of the city. Burials for Hermopolis Magna were conducted at Beni Hasan, along with those of Antinopolis.

The city was dedicated to Typhôn and Thoth. The Greeks connected it with Hermes, source of magic and wisdom.

Just south of town was a castle where shipping from up-river paid a toll.

from La Description de-lEgypte, 1809

From the Tomb of Biban el Moluk, Khnum


Asyut (Syout, Lycopolis) was another center of the Middle Kingdom. The town was sacred to the jackal god Anubis, guardian of the fields of the dead. Ancient Asyut was a center of wolf breeding, and wolf mummies have been found in the nearby hills.

Anubis has done his work well.
The ancient town of Asyut is long gone,
but the tombs remain.
Tombs of Sakiet by Cailliaud, 1821

Entrance to the Caves of Beni Hasan by David Roberts, 1838.

Limestone statue of a noble lady of Asyut
She is named Renenutet, from the 19th Dynasty (c.1280 BC).
Photograph by Jorge Elias, CreativeCommons

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