Beni Hasan is a small village and an important archaeological locality in Middle Egypt, some 20 km south of the city of Minya. Located on the eastern bank of the river Nile, the small but interesting site consists of cliff-hewn tombs overlooking the river valley with truly magnificent views in both directions. During the Middle Kingdom, it was the centre of the cult of Pakhet.
There are 39 ancient tombs here of Middle Kingdom nomarchs of the Oryx nome, who governed from Hebenu. Due to the quality of, and distance to the cliffs in the west, these tombs were constructed on the east bank, but are otherwise similar to other Middle Kingdom tombs.
Most of the tombs have a similar layout, with a carved entrance, and then a large (usually pillared) room containing the painted decoration and burial shafts.
Very close nearby and also worth a visit is the small rock-cut temple known as Speos Artemidos, constructed by Hatshepsut and Thutmose III, the Cave of Artemis, so-named because the Greeks identified Pakhet with Artemis, and the temple is subterranean.
ARRIVAL: The most practical way to get to Beni Hasan currently is by private taxi from either Minya or Mallawi – expect the usual escort of tourist police. The taxi fare should be somewhere in the range of LEŁ50 – LEŁ100, depending on the number of people travelling, how long you stay at the site and your bargaining skills.
• Tomb of Baqet III (BH 15)
• Tomb of Kheti (BH 17)
• Tomb of Amenehmet II (BH 2)
• Tomb of Khnumhotep (BH 3)
The site of Beni Hasan is open daily 7am-5pm, admission LEŁ20.
The local guard will accompany visitors up the steps, cut into the relatively gentle slopes leading up to the cliffs, in order to unlock the tomb gates and operate the tomb lighting. Note that photography is reportedly no longer allowed inside the tombs.
With very little prompting, the guard will also provide a well-intentioned (if doubtful) commentary in mixed French and Arabic, as well as illuminate perceived highlights of the tomb decoration with a torch. For these services, of course, some baksheesh will be expected in return – expect to part with at least LEŁ5 (or more).
Speos Artemidos (the Grotto of Artemis), known locally as Istabl Antar (the Stable of Antar, a local Arab hero-poet) is a small rock-cut temple shrine devoted to the local lion goddess Pakht and constructed by the 18th Dynasty pharaohs Hatshepshut and Thutmose III. The sanctuary consists of a small hall supported by Hathor-headed columns. The walls are decorated with relief scenes of the female pharaoh Hatshepsut making offerings to the gods, accompanied by inscriptions relating how she restored the land to order (Maat) after the rule of the foreign Hyksos.
DRINK: A new rest-house has been recently constructed at the site (which reportedly serves very good coffee).