Beni Hassan is a small village situated 21 km to the South of El Menya, it is opposite to the village of Abu Qerqas on the East bank of the Nile. The name of the village is derived from the name of the Beni Hassan Arabs who settled there during the 18th century.
The village of Beni Hassan is well known for its important rock cut tombs which were carved into the high limestone cliffs of the East bank of the Nile. The location of the cemetery on the East of the Nile is somewhat unusual as the west being the domain of Osiris was the place usually chosen for burial. However, the tombs of Beni Hassan were built in the East for two reasons:
a) Because it was nearer to the Nile river.
b) Because of the better quality of limestone on the Eastern side of the cliff.
The tombs date mostly to the 11th and 12th Dynasties. They mainly belong to the ruler of the 16th Nome of Upper Egypt. The tombs are reached via a long steep flight of steps up the hillside, from where there is a magnificent view of the Nile valley. The total number of tombs on the upper part of the cliff is 39, only twelve of which are decorated and only 4 are currently opened to visitors. These tombs offer rare chance to see distinctive funerary artistic style of the early Middle kingdom with the colorfully painted daily life scenes. There is a causeway or a ramp leading up from the valley to each of the 39 tombs.
Near the upper side of each ramp on either side there are burial shafts that end in burial pits for the high officials and the servants that worked for the Nome rulers. The total number of these pits is 900. The rock cut tombs of Beni Hassan fall into 3 categories:
a) The first and most numerous are those of the 11th Dynasty with un-columned single rooms and a false door on the inner wall.
b) The second also dates back to the 11th Dynasty and consist of single rooms with lotus columns and a false door on the inner wall.
c) The third dates to the 12th Dynasty, and these tombs consists of a porch that leads to a main chapel that in turn leads to the shrine.
The four tombs of Beni Hassan, which are opened to the visitors, are:
Tomb of Bakhet, BH 15
Tomb of Kheti, BH 17
Tomb of Amenemhat( Ameni), BH 2
Tomb of Khnumhotep, BH