An Egyptian tomb dating back 3,300 years has revealed multiple chambers and given an insight into the lives of the ancient elite.
The newly excavated tomb, found at the site of Abydos, shows evidence of a pyramid entrance which would have measured 23 ft high. It contains a vaulted antichamber and two burial chambers, that would have been below ground.
Archaeologists found the disarticulated human skeletal remains of three to four men, 10 to 12 women and around two children in the structure. It is believed the tomb was ransacked at least twice in antiquity.
Kevin Cahail, a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania, who led the excavations, told Live Science: "Originally, all you probably would have seen would have been the pyramid and maybe a little wall around the structure just to enclose everything."
He added that the pyramid itself would likely to have had a small, mortuary chapel within it, that may have held a statue or stela (an ancient tombstone) "giving the names and titles of the individuals buried underneath".
No mummified body was discovered within the sarcophagus, which researchers believe was created for a scribe named Horemheb. The coffin is incribed with the images of several Egyptian gods, amongst hieroglyphic inscriptions recording spells from the Book of the Dead, an ancient funerary text. There was no mummifed corpse inside the sarcophagus.
Human remains survived the ransacking, however. Archaeologists found disarticulated skeletal remains from three to four men, 10 to 12 women and at least two children in the tomb.
The number of female bodies suggest the men could have had multiple wives.
The elaborate tomb has led researchers to believe Horemheb's family had military ties, which enabled them to afford such luxuries. One of the burial chambers, although missing a sarcophagus, contains shabti figurines that were crafted to do the work of the deceased in the afterlife.
Writing on the figurines say that they are for the "Overseer of the Stable, Ramesu" - which appears to be a military title. Cahail said Ramesu may be the father or older brother of Horemheb.
He pointed out that both Horemheb and Ramesu share names with two military leaders, who were alive at the same time. Cahail said: "They could actually be amulating their names on these very powerful individuals that eventually became pharoah, or they could have just been names that were common at the time."
A heart amulet carved out of red and green jasper was discovered in the tomb. The purpose of the item, according to archaeologists, was to tell the heart of the deceased not to lie.
The ancient Egyptians believed that their hearts would be put on a scale on weighted against a feather representing ma-at, an Egyptian concept involvign truth and justice. According to Guardian Liberty Voice: "If the heart was as light or lighter than the feather, the individual would be able to pass through and be reborn again with the rising sun."
The site of Abydos became a centre for the worshop of the god of the underworld, Osiris. As reported by the Tech Times, an annual procession was held between a temple to the god in the city and a tomb, which was believed to belong to the deity.