A Closer Look at the Mysterious Well of Osiris

The Giza plateau is home to several other spectacular landmarks in addition to the three iconic pyramids. One of these amazing features is the so-called Tomb of Osiris, also known as the Well of Osiris.

This interesting tomb, divided into several levels, is found below the stone pavement of the Pyramid of Khafre. Although the existence of the structure has long been recognized, it has recently undergone extensive excavation and has been duly recorded.

The well was once used as a swimming hole because it was always full of water. Selim Hassan and his associates were among the first to investigate the well in the 1930s, but Zahi Hawass and his associates completed excavation of the well in 1999 as a result of the water levels of the Giza Plateau having receded enough to allow for this.

It required continuous pumping operations to reach the lowest chamber in the complex. Hawass’ team found three separate shafts with three separate floors.

“During this period, it was customary for the rich to dig wide, deep wells ending in an open hall where a series of small chambers opened up, each containing a coffin… in stages as you descended. The most prominent example of this type of pit is the well cut by the roadside of the Second Pyramid and discovered by me in our work on season six. On the way, they first built a platform in the shape of a mastaba, using stones taken from the remains of the passage that protected the path. In the center of this large building, they sunk a well through the roof and under the subway, crossing the street to a depth of about 30 feet.

poço de Osíris

At the bottom of this well is a rectangular screen, at the east end is another well. It descends about 14.00 meters and ends in an open hall surrounded by seven burial chambers, each containing a coffin, two of these coffins, made of basalt and monolith, were so large that at first we wondered if they contained carcasses of sacred bulls, is full of water. Through the clear water we can see that it ends in a covered corridor, and has side chambers containing coffins. We tried to pump the water, but it looks like the spring must have broken the rock, as the continuous pumping of water for four years failed to bring the water level down…” (extracted from “Executions At Giza Vol. 5”) 1933-1934” by Selim Hassan in collaboration with Mahmoud Darwish, Cairo Press, Bulaq 1944, p. 193.)

Numerous items, including ceramic beads, pottery shards, and ushabtis, can be found in these side chambers (small figurines of servants).

In addition, “sarcophagi” made of basalt were found in Chambers C, D, and G. In Chambers C and G, the sarcophagi contained severely degraded skeletal remains. Based on stylistic factors, the items, including the sarcophagi, have been dated to the 26th dynasty.

Osiris, the father of Horus, was one of the most important deities of prehistoric Egypt. According to tradition, his malevolent brother Seth killed him (also known as Seti or Sutekh).

After being buried by his wife Isis, he was resurrected as the watchman of the afterlife and the judge of the dead. He was wearing a cone of white feathers and looked like a man who had been mummified.

Uma visão geral do Poço de Osíris.

Uma visão geral do Poço de Osíris.
An overview of the Well of Osiris.
Uma visão geral do Poço de Osíris.
An overview of the Well of Osiris.

Although this tomb was recorded by the Greek historian Herodotus in his account of Egypt in the mid-5th century BC, access to it has never been possible until today because of the high water levels. Conventional academics considered this a fable, but it turns out that Herodotus was right all along.

The lower chamber of the pit, which looks like an underground hall, has a completely preserved, empty sarcophagus. It turns out that the third level of Osiris Shaft is more complex in terms of architecture and design.

Red-polished pottery with white paint leftovers was the most important discovery in the third level of the Well of Osiris. According to the researchers, the ceramic artifacts date back to the sixth dynasty at the end of the Old Kingdom. As a result, the oldest object in the entire complex that can be dated is the pottery discovered on the third level.

Such a large net could not have been created by slaves using bronze tools during the 6th Dynasty, which reigned from 2345 to 2181 BC. It would have been an extraordinarily difficult task. It wasn’t until the 7th century BC that large amounts of iron began to appear.

The Osiris Shaft is believed to have originated in the Old Kingdom, more specifically in the Sixth Dynasty, as a result of studies and archaeological evidence unearthed over the years. The Osiris well opened to the public for the first time in 2017.

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