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Tales from the Crypt Volume 53 Number 5, September/October 2000
by Angela M.H. Schuster

A descent into the Tomb of Osiris


When the discovery of the so-called Osiris Tomb on the Giza Plateau was announced this past spring, it caused a stir in the international media. Reports proclaimed that the grave of Egypt's master of the underworld and god of fertility had finally been found. Moreover, it matched a description of it in the writings of the fifth-century B.C. Greek historian Herodotus.

Located among a number of deep shaft graves belonging to Egyptian nobility of the New Kingdom and Late Dynastic Period, the so-called Osiris Tomb is 100 yards or so down the causeway that connects Khafre's Mortuary Temple at the base of the pyramid with the Sphinx and his Valley Temple. A visit by ARCHAEOLOGY to the the tomb, a damp grotto nearly 100 feet below the Giza Plateau, calls into question both its interpretation and its history of exploration.

[image] The shaft leading to the so-called Osiris Tomb lies directly below the causeway that connects Khafre's Pyramid to the Sphinx. The shaft leads to an empty hall, at the far end of which is a 40-foot-deep shaft.

At the base of the shaft is a six-chambered hall, which was used for burial during Dynasty 26 (664-525 B.C.) and in the later Greco-Roman period (332 B.C.-A.D. 642). Two of the chambers contain large granite sarcophagi; the floor is littered with piles of potsherds and human bones. A 40-foot-deep shaft cut through the floor of what may have been a seventh burial chamber leads to the Osiris Tomb.

The remains of four eroded pillars cut out of rock surround a rectangular pit, which contains a granite sarcophagus. Crystal-clear water surrounds the pillars on three sides.

Angela M.H. Schuster is a senior editor of ARCHAEOLOGY.

© 2000 by the Archaeological Institute of America