The site has numerous tombs, mainly of the Old and Middle Kingdoms. Nearby are quarries that were in use in the 18th and 30th Dynasties.
The most important tombs are those of the Middle Kingdom nomarchs. One famous representation from the tomb of Djehutyhotep (Tomb 2) shows the transport of a colossal statue from the quarries of Hatnub. The statue is being pulled by four rows of men. In some of the tombs, spells from the Coffin Texts appear on the ceiling.
Adapted from Global Egyptian Museum
In 2007 a Belgian team, led by Professor Harco Willems, discovered an intact tomb of the First Intermeditate Period at el-Bersheh. The tomb belonged to a man named Henu.
Near the modern village of Deir-el-Bersheh on the east bank of the Nile, about 175 miles south of Cairo, lies a group of rock-cut tombs, high up on the desert cliffs which overlook the valley. These are the burial places of noblemen of the Egyptian Middle Empire (2100-1700 B.C.).
When originally cut in the living rock they consisted of an entrance portico and one or more rectangular chambers hollowed out of the hill, and of a vertical shaft descending to a small room below, in which the mummy rested inside one or more sarcophagi. The chamber was intended for the use of the living, who there made offerings to the deceased, and its walls were decorated with scenes from his life, and with charms and prayers for his welfare in the underworld. The shaft and burial room were never visited after the funeral, but were carefully sealed up, and the entrance to the shaft made as invisible as possible to prying eyes.
Modern archaeologists have examined many of the offering chambers, and have published the inscriptions and paintings on their walls, but the site had never been fully examined because of great falls of rock which had occurred. These falls were due in the first instance to extensive quarrying operations in ancient times, which so weakened the whole that earthquakes brought down great masses of rock which crushed and concealed many of the chambers and shafts.
el-Bersheh in Global Egyptian Museum
el-Bersheh in Artefacts of Excavation (The Griffith Institute)
Models by site for el Bersheh