In 1964 in the ancient necropolis of Saqqara, Egyptian archaeologist Ahmed Moussa discovered a series of tombs with rock-cut passages in the escarpment facing the causeway that lead to the pyramid of Unas. Chief Inspector Mounir Basta reported crawling on his hands and knees through the passages, entering one of the Old Kingdom tombs discovered burial chambers of Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum servants and royal confidants at the Palace of King Niuserre during the Fifth Dynasty of Egyptian pharaohs and are believed to be the first recorded same-sex couple in recorded history.
Though homosexuality was not uncommon in Ancient Egypt, the exact nature of the relationship between the two men is nearly impossible to discern since no evidence exists beyond the imagery in the tomb.
The main portrait of the ‘boys’ in the tomb show them nose to nose in a close embrace, a clone of the portrait style used in other Egyptian tomb art of the era to showcase male-female married couples and the hieroglyphs in the tomb have their names are strung together in a blessings that translates as “joined in life and joined in death.”
While some Egyption scholars scoff at the idea of this being an example of early same-sex coupling. Many disagree chalking up the denials to nothing more than blatant homophobia.
“Calling attention to the most intimate scene of the two embracing men,” Greg Reeder, an independent scholar in San Francisco and a contributing editor of KMT, a magazine of Egyptian art and history said : “They are so close together here that not only are they face to face and nose to nose, but so close that the knots on their belts are touching, linking their lower torsos. If this scene were composed of a male-female couple instead of the same-sex couple we have here, there would be little question concerning what it is we are seeing.”
The necropolis of Saqqara is a remarkably preserved archeological find is one of the largest and most beautifully decorated tombs in the Saqqara and strongly suggests that whatever the nature of their relationship of the two men were, the pharaoh approved of it.