Egyptologist Ahmed Moussa discovered the tomb of Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum at Saqqara, Egypt in 1964, during the excavation of the causeway for the pyramid of King Unas. It is the only tomb in the cemetery where men are displayed embracing and holding hands.
Though the couple lived in the middle of the 5th dynasty of Egypt, the debate of what type of couple they were continues on. The two men are depicted holding hands, sitting together, and standing nose to nose. They both had wives and children, but they are rarely depicted on their tomb or shown to the side, out of focus.
“To understand past cultures, we have to examine everything within the context of that time and place. This applies to sexuality and understandings of intimacy -- aspects of modern life that we often think of as hard-wired or unchanging. However, as students of the history of sexuality we know that concepts and understandings change dramatically over time,” said Dr. Thomas A. Foster, author of "Rethinking Rufus: Sexual Violations of Enslaved Men."
Dr. Ida Jones, Morgan State University archivist and author of "Baltimore Civil Rights Leader Victorine Q. Adams," added another view to the quesion. "Interestingly, the cultural erasures caused by European colonialism have been used to argue for and against the interpretations of couples, such as the Egyptian example. Some scholars argue that 19th and early 20th century Europeans wrote histories of ancient Egypt that erased the same-gender bonds among Egyptian men and women because of their own bias and European homophobia.”