Al-Hawaish is located in the govenerate of Sohag located 255km North of Luxor.
Al-Hawawish Cemetery is considered one of the most prominent archaeological sites in Sohag, as Al-Hawaish is located about 10 km east of Sohag, and about 7 km from Akhmim, which was its main cemetery during the Old Kingdom. This attracted the Australian Research Council and Macquarie University's Australian Center for Egyptology Research to conduct scientific excavations at the site from the early 1980s until the early 1990s.
Al-Hawawish Cemetery contains more than 800 tombs date back to the ages of the Old Kingdom (2494-2181 BC) and the First Transition Period (2181-2055 BC), and nearly 60 tombs still preserve some inscriptions, funerary scenes, offering, daily life, dancing and hunting and agriculture is in the ancient Akhmim, while five of them are very well preserved.
When you visit you will find the tombs high up in the hills you will defiantly need to be able to climb stairs as there are 1080 steps to the top. You don't have to climb it all in one go and there are plenty of rest stops along the way. The views are just amazing from up there and when you reach the top you will get to see some lovely tombs.
There are 5 tombs that can be visited in total and there is not much of the original decoration left but what is left is stunning and well worth the climb.
The 5 tombs are for the following
The Tomb of Shepsipumin / Kheni (H24)
The tomb of Shepsipumin dates to the sixth Dynasty, end of the reign of King Pepy II (2278-2184 BC). It was situated high up on the cliff, at a height of 225 metres. Shepsipumin was also called Kheni and was the eldest son and successor of Theti-Iker, owner of the neighbouring tomb no. H26.
Kheni held many titles, Count, Treasurer of the King of Lower Egypt, Sem-priest, Sole companion, Overseer of Upper Egypt, Lector-priest, Overseer of priests, Great overlord of Akhmim. Besides his wife, Hetpet who was called the Priestess of Hathor and two of their daughters were mentioned in the tomb, in addition to four sons. The name of the eldest son is Teti.
The Tomb of Nehwet Desher/Meri (G95)
This tomb is located at the southernmost end of the western slope of the mountain. It lies at a height of 196.5 meters. The tomb is dating to the beginning or middle of King Pepi II’s reign (2278-2184 B.C).
Nehwet Desher, also called Meri, held many titles such as, overseer of priests', privy to the secret of the god's treasure', great overlord of the province', attendant of Min, sole companion, treasurer of the king of Lower Egypt. His wife “Isi” was ‘acquaintance of the king', 'priestess of Hathor lady of the sycamores'. Shepsipumin was his older son and it had recorded that he was the one who decorated the tomb himself.
They Tomb of Ka Hep / Theti-Iker (H26)
The tomb of “Ka Hep” dates to the reign of Pepy II during the sixth Dynasty (2278-2184 BC), which is located in the southwest corner of the al-Hawawish tombs and is distinguished by its height from the rest of the tombs next to it. As well, it contains many funerary scenes, offerings, daily life, dancing, hunting and agriculture.
The tomb's facade is distinguished by inscriptions representing the titles of “Ka Hep” and scenes of him next to his wife. While the southern wall is inscribed with a scene that shows boats carrying the funeral’s furniture. Another scene represents the owner in a fishing boat, catching two large fish, while his wife is squatted holding two lotus plants. Behind them, there are five members of the family, two men and three women.
The Tomb of Hem Min (M43)
The tomb of Hem-Min (the servant of the deity Mini) dates to the reign of King Teti (2345-2323 BC), it is one of the largest tomb in al-Hawawish cemetery, and perhaps one of the largest rock-cut tombs in known in Old Kingdom, which confirms the importance of its owner "Hem-Min" the Overseer of Upper Egypt. As he was undoubtedly the most powerful man of his time in the southern part of the country.
Architecturally also, this tomb is exceptional. It is situated in the south bend of the mountain, at a height of 193 meters and 11 vertical wells have been cut in the cemetery, in addition to two sloping wells in the northern half of the courtyard, all connected to the burial chambers of the owner of the tomb and his family.
Hem-Min also held other titles, Overseer of the great court of justice, Greatest of the ten of Upper Egypt, and Priest of Maat. His wife was an Acquaintance of the King, and a Priestess of Hathor.
The Tomb of Hesi-Min (M 22)
The tomb of Hesi-Min dates back to the late fifth Dynasty, probably under the King Djedkare (2414-2375 BC). The tomb’s location was chosen carefully in the south side in El-Hawawish Cemetery at the height of 190 metres.
Hesi-Min held many titles, being the Overseer of the works of the King, Greatest of the ten of Upper Egypt, and Priest of Min. His wife Shepsit-Kaw was called “the Priestess of Neith, Heqet and Hathor”. Moreover, five of his sons were presented in the decoration and texts of the tomb; Ni-ankh-Min is their eldest son.
The tomb contains three vertical shafts, one in the inner room and two in the front one, in addition to a sloping passage, and all of the shafts lead to burial chambers that are oriented north south.
This site is well worth the trip if you pair it with some other sites, if your travelling from Luxor it does make for a long day but in our opinion well worth it.