May 18, 2024

Researchers Discover Egypt’s Oldest Tomb Oriented to Winter Solstice

An image of the tomb, which lies in the necropolis of Qubbet el-Hawa (Aswan). Credit: University of Jaen and Malaga
Set down in the necropolis of Qubbet el-Hawa, the structure is exactly oriented to the winter solstice dawn, permitting the suns rays to shine upon the designated resting place of a guv of the city of Elephantine.
A group of researchers from the University of Malaga (UMA) and the University of Jaen (UJA) has discovered Egypts earliest burial place lined up with the winter season solstice. The burial place, located in the necropolis of Qubbet el-Hawa in Aswan, is perfectly oriented towards the dawn of the winter season solstice, bathing the tomb with light and marking the final resting location of a governor of the city of Elephantine, who lived throughout completion of the XII Dynasty, around 1830 B.C
. This alignment with the solstice permitted the tomb to completely track the solar cycle, connecting it with the idea of rebirth. The winter season solstice represented the start of the accomplishment of light over darkness, while the summer season solstice coincided with the beginning of the annual flooding of the Nile, both events held great symbolic significance in relation to the resurrection of the deceased governor.

The plan of the tomb. Credit: University of Malaga
Excellence in the orientation
In this paper, recently published in the prominent scientific journal Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry, the scientists explain that, in order to attain excellence in the orientation, the Egyptian designer just used a two-cubit pole, around one meter long, a square, and some robes, with which he had the ability to perfectly calculate the orientation of the funerary chapel and the area of the statue of the governor.
Furthermore, they describe that the Egyptian designer not only achieved the perfect orientation but also designed its volume with excellent precision, as determined in a previous paper published by the UJA in 2020 and signed by, to name a few, Professor Antonio Mozas– an author of the existing research study–, which exposed that the volume of the tomb was perfectly determined to avoid being coincident with any previous tomb.
Professor of Architecture at UMA Lola Joyanes. Credit: University of Malaga
The burial place of this guv, cataloged with No. 33, and perhaps developed by Governor Heqaib-ankh, was excavated by the UJA in between 2008 and 2018. From that time on, it has been architecturally studied by various experts, amongst them, the Professor of Architecture at UMA Lola Joyanes, who has actually been participating in this task because 2015, dealing with her own line of research study since 2019.
The work this scientist of the UMA has actually carried out in the necropolis includes whatever related to architecture and landscape, particularly, their study through illustration and photogrammetry.
A specific software application to reproduce the position of the sun
The Andalusian researchers reached these conclusions thanks to the recognition of the duration where the burial place was built, which permitted them to use a particular software (Dialux Evo) that replicates the position of the sun with regard to the horizon in ancient times.
” This research study shows that Egyptians were capable of calculating the position of the sun and the orientation of its rays to design their monuments. The burial place No. 33 of Qubbet el-Hawa is the oldest example ever found, certainly it is not the only one”, say the researchers.
Referral: “Solar Geometry and the Organization of the Annual Cycle Through Architecture and the Funerary Landscape in Qubbet El Hawa” by María Joyanes-Díaz, Juan Martínez-De Dios, Antonio Mozas-Calvache, Jonathan Ruíz-Jaramillo, Carmen Muñoz-González and Alejandro Jiménez-Serrano, 22 July 2022, Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry.DOI: 10.5281/ zenodo.681546.
This research has been financed by the Government of Andalusia.

A team of researchers from the University of Malaga (UMA) and the University of Jaen (UJA) has actually revealed Egypts oldest tomb aligned with the winter solstice. The tomb, located in the necropolis of Qubbet el-Hawa in Aswan, is completely oriented towards the sunrise of the winter season solstice, bathing the tomb with light and marking the last resting place of a governor of the city of Elephantine, who lived throughout the end of the XII Dynasty, around 1830 B.C
. This positioning with the solstice permitted the burial place to completely track the solar cycle, linking it with the principle of renewal. The winter solstice represented the start of the accomplishment of light over darkness, while the summertime solstice coincided with the beginning of the yearly flooding of the Nile, both events held excellent symbolic meaning in relation to the resurrection of the departed guv.