Hundreds of sealed wine jars have been revealed during the latest excavations in the tomb of Egyptian 1st Dynasty queen Merneith (c. 3000 – 2890 BC) in Abydos, according to a press release by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

As stated by Dr. Mustafa Waziri, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, the Egyptian-German-Austrian archaeological mission working in the tomb of Queen Merit-Neith of the 1st Dynasty in the Umm el-Qaab area in Abydos, uncovered hundreds of sealed jars, still containing remains of wine. The team has also found another group of funerary furniture. The newly found jars are large in size and in good condition of preservation, while the remains of wine found inside them are about 5,000 years old.

For his part, Dr. Dietrich Raue, Director of the German Institute in Cairo, said that the excavation work in the tomb also succeeded in unveiling new historical information about the life of the queen and the period of her reign. In particular, one of the tablets found inside the tomb showed the queen’s high position as responsible for central government offices.

Dr. Christiana Köhler, Head of the mission, added that studies conducted on the tomb indicated that the tomb of Queen Merneith was built of raw bricks, clay, and wooden planks. The queen is, so far, the only woman from the 1st Dynasty for whom a royal tomb has been uncovered in Abydos. For the record, next to the queen’s tomb, there is a group of 41 tombs that hosted her courtiers and servants.

Abydos was the main cult center of the God Osiris, whose myth describes him as an early king of Egypt and the absolute royal ancestor of every Egyptian pharaoh. Interestingly, the site, in its area of Umm el-Qaab, hosts the tombs of the earliest recorded pharaohs of a united Egypt (1st and 2nd Dynasties), with the group possibly including Narmer, the first king of the 1st Dynasty, as well as impressive late predynastic-early dynastic brewery installations which bear witness to large scale communal events happening there already at the time of the unification of Egypt.

Among Abydos’ early royal tombs, the one of Meneith (or Meryt Neith) stands out as the only one reserved for a woman. Merneith was the wife of King Djet, the fourth pharaoh of the 1st Dynasty. Following her husband’s death, she is believed to have acted as a regent to her son, Den and this event alone justifies her high status. Apart from her Abydos tomb, she is also associated with another funerary space in the form of a great mastaba, which has been found in Saqqara.

For another royal tomb, of a later date, found at Abydos, see here.