مقابر «الأنفوشى» الأثرية
كما قال عنها شاعر العامية الشهير سيد حجاب..
عاصمة السياحة العربية 2010..
رائعة «الإسكندر» بين البحيرة والبحر..
مر عليها العديد من الحضارات والعصور،
التى تركت فيها طابعاً يميزها عن بقية محافظات مصر،
وهو ما يظهر جلياً فى آثارها المكتشفة،
وتلك التى لا تزال فى باطن الأرض، ما بين البطالمة واليونانيين والرومانيين وغيرهم.
ازدهرت الإسكندرية، وجذبت بتنوع آثارها ومرجعياتها الثقافية العديد من الأجناس
ومن بين آثار الإسكندرية
مقابر «الأنفوشى» الأثرية فتعود للعصر اليونانى،
وتحديداً إلى القرن الثالث قبل الميلاد، بنهاية عصر البطالمة،
حيث تم اكتشافها عام 1901، وهى مكونة من 5 مبان جنائزية بكل منها مقبرتان،
بالإضافة إلى مبنى سادس مندثر، وتتميز جبانات «الأنفوشى»
بزخارف «الفرسكو» و«المرمر» و«الرخام»، وتضم اثنتين من أهم المقابر فى الثغر.
وعلى الرغم من روعة التصميم المعمارى الذى تتميز به مقابر «الأنفوشى»
فإن يد الإهمال طالتها، إلى جانب العوامل الطبيعية التى تؤثر على عمر المقبرة،
وتهدد ألوانها بالشحوب وزخارفها بالطمس.
من جانبهم يخشى المتخصصون والأثريون من أن تصبح المقابر مجهولة لدى السكندريين أنفسهم
فلا تكاد تتحدث لأى مواطن سكندرى عن مقابر الأنفوشى،
حتى يبدى جهله بها وبمكانها حتى أصبحت معلما مندثرا من ضمن الآثار التى تتميز بها الإسكندرية
وإن علمها أو عرف مكانها أى مواطن سكندرى فلا يعرف ما بداخلها ولا الأروقة والغرف التى بها
فأحيانا كثيرة تكون مغلقة لحين انتهاء عمليات الترميم بها،
إلى الحد الذى وصل بالأثريين إلى درجة الخوف من أن تصبح خرافة تندثر عبر مرور الزمن
أو أن تصبح مكانا غامضا، لا يعرف السياح ما بداخله من روعة الزخارف والصنعة،
فى الوقت الذى من الممكن أن تصبح فيه معلما من المعالم التى تدر الكثير من الأموال على السياحة فى الإسكندرية
مما دفع الأثريين إلى التساؤل:
هل سيأتى الوقت الذى يعلم فيه الأجانب روعة المعمار لدينا، ونجهله نحن أصحاب المكان
وأرجع العديد من الأثريين تدهور حالة المقبرة لارتفاع منسوب المياه الجوفية تحتها
وعدم القدرة على التحكم فى هذا المنسوب، مما جعل الرطوبة تأكل جدرانها وأرضياتها
وتؤثر بشكل سلبى على شكلها الجمالى
مقابر الأنفوشى هى أشهر المقابر الأثرية الموجودة فى الإسكندرية
حيث بها رسومات وجداريات قلما يكون لها مثيل
إن المقابر شىء من الخرافة فى جمالها إذا ما تم ترميمها بشكل جيد، خاصة أنها تتكون من 7 مقابر
فى كل مقبرة صالة معمارية وحجرة، وبها من 10 إلى 15 غرفة،
فيها زخارف جدارية، مصنوعة من أعمال الفرسكو، والرسم على الحائط
وهو نوع من الفنون النادرة فى أى مقبرة ولكنها متوفرة فى مقابر الأنفوشى
مؤكدا أنها ترجع للقرن الأول قبل الميلاد
إن مقابر الأنفوشى الأثرية يرجع تاريخها إلى القرن الثالث قبل الميلاد
أى حوالى 250 قبل الميلاد مع أواخر العصر البطلمى وأوائل عصر الرومان
وتعد واحداً من أهم الآثار اليونانية
الموجودة فى مدينة الإسكندرية وتم اكتشافها عام 1901 ميلادية
حيث اكتشف بها مبنيان جنائزيان بكل منهما مقبرتان زُينتا بالمرمر والرخام
مقبرة الأنفوشي الأثرية بالإسكندرية
مقبرة الأنفوشي الأثرية بالإسكندرية أو جبانة الأنفوشي الأثرية
هي واحدة من أهم الآثار اليونانية الموجودة في مدينة الإسكندرية
يرجع تاريخ مقابر الأنفوشي الأثرية إلى القرن الثالث قبل الميلاد ( حوالي 250 ق.م )
مع أواخر العصر البطلمي وأوائل العصر الروماني
اكتشفت هذه المقابر ( الجبانة ) في عام 1901 م حيث اكتشف بها مبنيان جنائزيان بكل منهما مقبرتان
. توالت الاكتشافات لمقبرة الأنفوشي حتى أصبح عدد مبانيها الجنائزية خمسة.
وهناك مبنى جنائزي سادس اختفي ولم يعد له أثر. تمتاز هذه المقابر بزخارف الفرسكو الجميلة والتي مازالتا بحالة جيدة.
وقد زينت في كثير منها بالمرمر والرخام .
تضم مقبرة الأنفوشي خمسة مباني جنائزية ( مقابر ) اثنان
منها تعتبر من أهم المقابر في الإسكندرية
حيث تتميز المقبرتان بنقوشهما الجميلة وتصميمهما المعماري الفريد
المبني الجنائزي الأول
في بداية الدخول إلي المقابر وعلى يسارها وهذا المبنى به مقبرتان بينهما بهو يتم الوصول إليه عن طريق سلم مزخرف
تحتوي غلى مقاعد عريضة منحوتة في الصخر ومرتفعة قليلاً عن الأرض ..
وحجرة الدفن منخفضة وبها تابوت جرانيتي والباب الموصل إلى حجرة الدفن ينتمي في عمارته غلى الطراز الفرعوني
يوجد بها حجرتان الأولى منها مستطيلة وزخرفتها على شكل المرمر وهذا السم من الطراز الروماني ..
وقسمت الحجرة الأولى إلى حجرتين صغيرتين وزخرفة هذه الحجرات مثل زخرفة الحجرة الأولى في المقبرة الأولى وهو تقليد للرخام المعرق. وهناك فتحة في بهو هذا المبنى الجنائزي تؤدي إلى صهريج للمياه
المبنى الجنائزي الثاني
يصل إليه الزائر عن طريق سلم يؤدي إلى فناء تفتح عليه مقبرتان لكل منهما حجرتان ..
وقد رسمت الحوائط بالفرسكو على هيئة أشرطة طويلة مزخرفة بشكل يشبه الرخام المعرق ..
وهناك رسومات فرعونية تزخرف بعض الحوائط
ولا تزال جدران البهو تحتفظ بزخرفتها ذات الطراز الأول الروماني
وهو تقليد بالفرسكو للرخام المعرق ويفتح على هذا البهو مقبرتان
وهي التي على اليمين وفيها حجرة بدون زخرفة ..
ولكن بها نقوش واسكتشات لسفن رومانية حربية تسير بالشراع ..
والحجرة الجنائزية فيها باب أمامه سلم وزخرفتها جميلة وهي زخرفة مختلطة فرعونية- رومانية
وفيها الحجرة الأولى قد طليت بالألوان في العصر البطلمي ثم الروماني ..
وعلى جانبي باب الحجرة الجنائزية يوجد عمودان
صغيران فوق كل منهما تمثال لأبي الهولالمبنى الجنائزي الثالث
اندثرت معظم أجزاء هذا المبنى واستغلت أحجاره في إقامة أبنية أخرى ..
فاختفت بسبب ذلك الأجزاء العليا من الحجرات.
وتصميم المبنى يختلف عن غيره بسبب وجود رواق صغير يفتح عليه السلم ..
وكذلك لوجود ثلاث حجرات محفورة تحت الأرض بدلاً من الحجرتين المعتاد وجودهما في المقبرة .
.وفي الحجرتين الأولى والثانية حفرت عدة مشكاوات لدفن الموتى
المبنى الجنائزي الرابع
هذا المبنى بحالة غير جيدة وكان به سلم يؤدي الى فناء تفتح عليه مقبرة ..
حجرتها الأولى بها بقايا لثلاث مصاطب مما يدل على أنها كانت حجرة مائدة جنائزية محفورة في الصخر ..
وعلى يمين هذه الحجرة توجد حفرة كانت صهريجاً للماء.
والمقبرة الثانية لها حجرة مستطيلة ومتسعة وبها آثار مصطبتين مبنيتين في الصخر
المبنى الجنائزي الخامس
يعتبر هذا المبنى من أغنى مقابر هذه الجبانة الأثرية من حيث الزخارف والرسومات ..
والمقبرة منحوتة في الصخر وتتكون من سلم وفناء مكشوف تفتح عليه أربع حجرات صغيرة
فى المتحف المصرى
The mastaba of Nikauisesi is situated in the north-east sector of the necropolis of Saqqara, not far from the edge of the plateau, just to the north of the pyramid of Teti, the first pharaoh of 6th Dynasty. The tomb occupies a prime site in the Teti Cemetery, being immediately to the north of the mastaba of Kagemni and can be found at the upper-right of the site plan opposite, indicated in red text.
The tomb was discovered in 1979-80 by the Supreme Council of Antiquities (then called the Egyptian Antiquities organisation) under the Directorship of Dr. Mahmud Abder-Raziq. Although briefly referred to in Egyptological publications, this important tomb was, in 2000, fully recorded and published as a joint project between the Australian Centre for Egyptology and the University of Suez Canal in Egypt.
The mastaba is currently open to the public.
THE TOMB COMPLEX
Even though much smaller than the mastaba of Kagemni it still contains five chambers
(four of which are decorated) plus a serdab and an inner courtyard with stairs leading to the roof. The entrance and chambers I to IV are decorated in relief (mostly painted). The main burial shaft is located in chamber V, a later intrusive shaft is located at the southern end of chamber III and another smaller one being located in the courtyard, in the south-west corner.
Two burial chambers exist, the main one being the deepest and belonging to Nikauisesi, whilst the other (accessed via the shaft in chamber III) is of a later date. The third shaft, of the courtyard, now lies under a new paving floor, so no information is known of any chamber which it might access.
A great many shafts were found in the street at the front of the mastaba and also adjacent to the west, north and south external walls. These are shown on a plan of the area published in 1987, in MDAIK 43.
The main burial chamber, that of Nikauisesi, although found to be disturbed, yielded both human remains and a good quantity of small finds.
NIKAUISESI, FAMILY AND OTHERS
Within the complex there are several named people. No wife is named or even appears on the walls. Although different names are given to a person identified as “his eldest son” it is possible that these are just variations and refer to the same (only) son. A great many other people are named within the decoration of the walls, 38 in total, being co-workers and people possibly dependant upon Nikauisesi; there are also 7 unnamed individuals. In addition, there are 3 dogs named on the north wall of chamber II.
As far as is known, his name is not found in any other tomb
complex. One man of the same name is represented, along with other
officials, in the reliefs of the Unis causeway. Another man named
Nikauisesi also held the office of overseer of Upper Egypt and is
mentioned in a royal decree of Teti, for the benefit of the temple of
Khenti-amenti (a jackal-headed deity) at Abydos. It seems possible that
all occurrences may refer to the same individual, that of our
“Isesi”, the abbreviated form, has been found only once in the inscriptions of the complex (on the east wall of chamber IV), and is accompanied by the text rn.f nfr : “his beautiful name”.
Evidence suggests that Nikauisesi was born and most probably started his career under King Isesi, hence indicating that he may have added this part of his name (in the cartouche) later, originally being named as “Nikau” only.
Nikauisesi held the following multitude of titles
16 in total:
• imi is : “he who is in the chamber”.
• imi-r wabti : “overseer of the two workshops”.
• imi-r prwi-nbw : “overseer of the two houses of gold”.
• jmi-r Smaw : “overseer of Upper Egypt”.
• imi-r kAt nb (t) nt nswt : “overseer of all the works of the king”.
• iri-pat : “hereditary prince”.
• iri nfr-HAt : “keeper of the head ornaments”.
• wt inpw : “embalmer of Anubis”.
• mniw Nxn : “keeper of Nekhen”.
• HAti-a : “count”.
• Hri wrw : “chief of the great ones”.
• Hts inpw : “… of Anubis”. The meaning of Hts in this title is unclear.
• hri-Hbt : “lector priest”.
• hri-Hbt Hri-tp : “chief lector priest”.
• smr weti : “sole companion”.
• sDawti-biti : “treasurer of the king of Lower Egypt”.
Date of his burial
While there is little doubt that Nikauisesi constructed his
mastaba during the reign of Teti, it is more difficult to ascertain
whether he ended his career under Teti or one of his successors. Under
his image in the fowling scene in chamber I is a text inscribed in black
ink. This reads: “The eleventh year, first month of the inundation
season, day 20. Burial in the necropolis of the hereditary prince, the
treasurer of the king of Lower Egypt, Nikauisesi”. No king’s name is
given, but this could only be Teti or his son Pepy I. The highest date
so far known for Teti is recorded on graffiti from the quarries of
Hatnub, stating: “regnal year six”. So, if the date from this
mastaba refers to Teti, it would record a new and higher year of his
reign. However, if it refers to Pepy I’s reign it would fall within the
known twenty-five years of this king.
Nikauisesi’s skeletal remains, found in his sarcophagus, were subjected to two independent examinations. In both cases, the conclusion was that he died between 35-45 years of age, relatively young.
Nothing is known of either his father or his mother, neither are named in the scenes of the chambers.
No wife appears in the current surviving scenes or inscriptions of the complex, but judging from the number of “eldest sons” represented, it is possible that he was married more than once. It is not impossible that a wife was depicted in the now missing sections of the wall decoration. She would, however, normally have been depicted in the fowling scene, but no wife appears here, which is very conspicuous. Perhaps his wife (or wives) was not alive when Nikauisesi decorated his complex.
Son or sons
Three names are given to figures who are identified as “his son” and in most cases also as “the elder” and “sole companion”.
Nikauisesi, named after his father, is found in several locations, as will be seen later, when the walls are discussed in detail.
Nikauteti appears on the west thickness of the entrance doorway, whilst the son on the east thickness is named Nikauisesi.
Meryisesi appears only on the north wall of chamber I. He bears the titles: “privy to the secrets of the house of morning” and “senior lector priest”.
Lost name. A man is shown between the legs of the tomb owner in the fowling scene, on the east wall of chamber I, the text is almost lost, but this may also be the son Nikauisesi, for although he wears a sash, like Merysesi, what remains of the name confirms that it is not him.
On the facade, west of the entrance, Nikauisesi (the son) is referred to as “the black, the elder”. On the west thickness of the entrance doorway, Nikauteti is also identified as such.
The most problematical name is Nikauteti, but because he also referred to as “the black, the elder” and appears on the west thickness of the entrance, which is the same side where the son Nikauisesi described likewise on the facade, it seems certain that these are of the same person, and that he acquired the name Nikauteti during his life. The four names (including the “lost name”) appear to belong to the same son.
With so many other named (38) and unnamed (7) people portrayed in the wall scenes, it is best for these to be mentioned within the descriptions of such.
On the north wall of chamber II, there are three named dogs. These are: “Bai”, “Baq” and “Idi”.
THE MASTABA COMPLEX – more general information
Reference should be made to the location plan and also the actual mastaba plan, both of which are found above.
This mastaba is physically located exactly between those of
Kagemni and Hesi, both of whom left biographies outlining their careers
under Isesi, Unis and finally Teti. It can be assumed that Kagemni was
somewhat older than Hesi because he started his career under Unis,
whilst Hesi did not receive his promotion until the reign of Teti. That
Nikauisesi was perhaps slightly older than Hesi, may be inferred from
the fact that his tomb was the first to be constructed, since Hesi’s
used the existing west wall of that of Shepsipuptah, which in turn used
the east wall of Nikauisesi. While there is little doubt that Nikauisesi
constructed his mastaba during the reign of Teti, it is uncertain as to
whether he ended his career under this king or one of his successors.
The date of the burial of Nikauisesi has already been discussed above and from this can be deduced more information about the date of the mastaba.
The entry to the large multi-chambered mastaba of Nikauisesi is located on the north side (the south side of the mastaba itself) of the east-west narrow street immediately behind that of Kagemni. The location does not indicate any relationship, date-wise, between the two mastabas, but may possibly suggest that the site of Nikauisesi’s mastaba was allocated in the original planning of the cemetery, presumably early in the reign of Teti.
Constructed entirely of good quality and well dressed limestone blocks, this was the first of a group of tombs built to the north of that of Kagemni. The south and west walls are free standing. The mastaba of Shepsipuptah was built (from brick) against the east wall, and that of Hesi was built (from stone) behind the north wall. It has been determined that the ground level of the area, outside Nikauisesi’s mastaba, is approximately 54 metres above sea level. Externally the mastaba measures 12.6m (east-west) by 13.3m (north-south) with an original estimated height of 3.85m. This large area is almost fully occupied with the five rooms, a serdab and an internal courtyard from which stairs which would have originally lead to the roof.
The entrance and four of the rooms are decorated in relief. As already stated, the main burial shaft is located in chamber V, with another later intrusive shaft in chamber III and another smaller one in the courtyard. All external walls have a slight inward slope of 1° and are formed of two parallel walls of stone, each being 35-40cm thick, with stone chips and rubble filling the intervening spaces which vary in width from 15-40cm. Most internal walls, similarly constructed of two stone walls and a fill between, have a thickness of approximately 1 metre.
All walls, external and internal, have retained at least four courses of stonework which enabled accurate measurements of all areas, except the damaged upper part of the open staircase in the north-west corner of the mastaba. The variations in the original solid ground level were evened using a fill of rubble and there is visible evidence that limestone paving was laid over the entire area, with the walls constructed on top of this paved flooring. Some new paving was laid during restoration and it is now not always easy to distinguish this from the original. The height measurements used from here were taken from the existing paved floor. The original internal height of the mastaba was determined by the lintel above the main entrance and the eight fully preserved courses on the north wall of chamber I. Chambers I-IV and the serdab were almost certainly roofed with large limestone slabs, whereas the courtyard almost certainly was left without a roof. It is uncertain whether chamber V, with a width of 2.9m, was ever roofed. Two original slabs, of different sizes, were used by restorers in the modern roofing of this chapel, but the original location of these is unknown.
Comparison with neighbouring mastabas
Like the mastaba of Kagemni, this one was entirely constructed
of stone. Later mastabas used mud brick for their external walls, or
were even built in the available space between earlier mastabas, using
their adjoining walls to reduce the cost. Like the earlier mastabas,
that of Nikauisesi was almost square in shape, being about 12.6m
(east-west) by 13.3m (north-south).
Like that of Kagemni, the complex has a staircase leading to the roof, whereas that of Mereruka (later and immediately to the west of that of Kagemni) does not, but that of his wife Watetkhethor, which adjoins it, does. However, like these later mastabas, a shaft of Nikauisesi is located in the floor of the chapel chamber rather than accessed from the roof. This probably shows that Nikauisesi’s complex represents a transition between two styles, because of the fact that it incorporates both a staircase to the roof and an internal shaft.
Unlike the mastaba of Kagemni, where the chambers occupy a limited portion of the total ground area, Nikauisesi’s, like that of Mereruka, occupy nearly the total area of the mastaba.
Artistically, the reliefs, in particular those at the facade and entrance, are of a very high quality comparable with those of other fine complexes of Teti’s reign. Inside the complex the reliefs are of an inferior quality, but this is not unusual as these would not be normally visible. Even the superbly decorated mastaba of Kagemni had some of its interior chambers decorated in inferior quality reliefs compared with those of the entrance and some of the other rooms.
The figures and inscriptions on the facade were produced in sunken relief of a good quality and fine detail. The decoration on the entrance thicknesses and elsewhere inside are in raised relief. Although the general quality of the relief is excellent on the facade and entrance thicknesses, it is only moderate in chamber I. However, that of chamber IV is definitely poor and there is no decoration in chamber VI. On the walls where the scenes are divided into registers, the lower registers are better than that of the upper ones, which is also observed in other mastabas.
SOUTHERN WALL AND ENTRY
The image opposite shows the narrowness of the street which separates this mastaba (on the right) from that of Kagemni. The view is taken looking towards the west. Immediately before it, in a very poor state, is the remains of the mastaba of Shepsipuptah, with the much better facade of Nikauisesi’s just beyond it.
The entrance to the tomb is towards the eastern (near) end of
the south wall. On either side of the doorway, the facade has been
smoothed, on the east for a width of 1.24m and on the west for a width
of 0.95m, with both sides above an area of less than a metre. These
smoothed areas were thinly plastered with gypsum and decorated in
relief, which is also true for the doorway thicknesses. The entrance
measures 0.75m wide by 0.86m long at the floor and 0.72m at ceiling
height. Externally, the upper part of the entrance, above a height of
2.00m, is of a modern construction, but the original door height of
2.55m can be determined by an internal ceiling block of the doorway (see
image left) and its internal recess.
Internally, the entrance has a recess of 1.12m wide, 2.7m high and 0.23m long. This recess still retains details of fittings for a door used to secure the tomb.
A cavity, which was cut into the ceiling of the recess, at the western end, almost certainly was intended as a pivot hole. Bolt holes have been cut into both side walls of the recess at a height of 1.22m. There is no evidence of a pivot hole in the floor which has now been plastered to install a modern door to secure the tomb.
The figures and inscriptions on the facade are executed in sunken relief, exhibiting good modelling and details.
On either side of the entrance doorway the tomb owner is
depicted in large size wearing a shoulder-length wig which covers his
ears, a beard, an elaborate broad collar, a long necklace with an amulet
and bracelets on his wrists. Strangely, his knee-length kilt is
horizontally pleated and has three panels, on his feet he wears sandals.
He holds a sceptre in one hand and a staff in the other. The image to
the right of the door has a strange anomaly, the sceptre passes behind
his kilt, yet he holds it with his left hand (which should be closest to
the viewer). This is due to a strange ancient Egyptian perspective,
indicating that in both cases he is holding the sekhem sceptre of power
in his right hand, and long cane of office in his left.
In each case a small figure of his bearded son stands before him, dressed in similar wig, broad collar and kilt. On the west side the son wears bracelets on his wrists, but in both cases he is bare-footed.
See also the line drawings: west side and east side. See also an in-context view.
Any text relating directly to the deceased, and giving any
titles, would have been placed above him, in horizontal lines, as is the
case in other mastabas where enough height has been preserved.
Above the son on the east side is written: “His eldest son, his beloved, the sole companion, Nikauisesi, the elder”. On the west side he is named: “Nikauisesi, the black, the elder”.
On each side, a single column of text is inscribed in front of the two figures. These are messages to all who enter. The one on the west side reads: “…[As for all people] who [will enter] into this tomb and have not purified themselves as (they) should purify (themselves) for a god, I will deliver to them more punishment than (their) great wrong doing”. The text on the east side reads: “But as for any ka-servant of my estate who recites invocation offerings for me and purifies (himself) for me, he will be confident, on account of it, that I will support him in the necropolis and in every council”.
The decoration on the entrance thicknesses are in raised relief, but like the facade they remained without colour.
On both thickness of the main entry to the complex, the tomb
owner faces outwards. He is represented as a mature man, indicated by
his pendulous breasts, although less than in some other internal scenes,
but certainly more than on the facade. Nikauisesi is shown with his
nearest shoulder forward facing and shortened, giving it a strange
appearance. He wears a long, projecting kilt and sandals. He holds the
front overlapping edge of the kilt between the thumb and fingers.
Strangely his thumb, which should be on the inside, is visible. With his
other hand he again holds his long staff. As on the facade, he again
wears a broad collar and sandals, but this time he has a short wig with
curls, depicted as small circles.
In front of him again stands a small scale male figure wearing a shoulder-length wig, a collar and a projecting kilt, but again no sandals and in neither image does he have wrist bracelets. In both cases he is designated as “His eldest son, his beloved, the sole companion”. The name on the east thickness reads: “Nikauisesi, the elder”, whilst on the west thickness it reads: “Nikauteti, the black, the elder”. It is almost certain the two names belong to the same son (as mentioned previously on page 1).
Above the tomb owner’s figures are seven vertical columns and one horizontal lines of hieroglyphic text, which appear to be identical on both thicknesses. Those of the west thickness are more complete, although even here the first two columns have been lost. The text reads: “… | … | the embalmer of Anubis, the… of Anubis, the sole companion, | the chief of the great ones, the overseer of the two houses of gold, | the honoured one before the great god, lord of heaven, | the honoured one before Osiris, | the honoured one before Anubis, who is on his hill, | the hereditary prince, the count, the treasurer of the king of Lower Egypt, the sole companion, Nikauisesi”.
The entrance doorway opens up into chamber I at the west end of the south wall. At this chamber I side, the entrance has a recess 1.12m wide by 0.23m deep with a height of 2.70m. This was meant to take an inward opening security door (today, a somewhat less tall metal one exists). The recess still retains evidence of the fittings for the installation of the door, a pivot cavity is cut into the ceiling at the western end but there is no evidence of a pivot hole in the floor, which has now been plastered to install a modern door to secure the tomb. Bolt holes had been cut into both side walls of the recess at a height of 1.22m.
The chamber is both small and almost square in section, measuring 2.12m (east-west) by 2.1m (north-south). The height of the east and west walls are currently preserved to a maximum of 2.8m, whilst the north and south walls have retained evidence of the original internal height of the chamber, that of 3.15m, although none of the actual decoration of this area now exists. Some does exist belonging to the north wall of chamber III, where it can be seen that the wall was topped with a kekher frieze (see information about these fragments on- From this it can be assumed that the walls of all the decorated chambers contained this decoration at the top.
A doorway located at the north end of the west wall leads to chamber II.
At the east end of the north wall is the recessed entry to chamber V. Cut through the corner junction of this north wall of the chamber and west wall of the recess, 7cm above the floor, is a small rectangular hole, however no photograph is available covering this section of this wall. This hole is one of six similar holes cut into the corner walls of the doorways of this complex. This feature, the purpose of which is uncertain but may have been to tether animals, occurs in other tombs in the Teti Cemetery. Cut into the east end of the recess ceiling is a cavity intended for the insertion of a door pivot, a hole can still be seen in the floor. There are no bolt holes in the side walls.
The entry recess, at the west end of the south wall, is
undecorated on the east side and the ceiling, but the decoration of the
west wall is part of the total west wall of this chamber.
In the chamber, the actual scene decorations appear to be quite high up the walls, bordered at the bottom by a red (top) and yellow (the yellow colour is now almost gone) horizontal bands of approximately 10cm, edged with thin black lines. These are placed above a blank dado area of just less than 1 metre in height, which was originally painted black, mostly lost, but the remains of which can still be seen in the image opposite, located in the north-east corner.
Being the closest to the entry, the scenes of this first chamber focus on outdoor activities. They were produced in relief, but of a mediocre quality with a fair degree of modelling. The actual details are largely produced in paint, especially noticeable in the fowling scene of the east wall, but even here they are not particularly well preserved.
The walls will be described in an anti-clockwise order, starting with the south wall.
Eastern section of the wall.
See the photo of all but the top register.
The area of this wall, to the east (left) of the entrance doorway, is divided into five registers. They are all devoted to activities which take place on the river and oriented towards the scene of the tomb owner fowling which is located on the east wall. The only text is found in the bottom two registers.
The upper register depicts fighting boatmen – Three boats are shown, each with two men aboard, wearing abbreviated kilts or loin-cloths. In most cases they have crowns and or neck garlands of lotus flowers. The men in the two boats to the left are engaged in the fight, stabbing each other with long poles, while the third boat appears to be fleeing the combat.
The second register. (See the top portion of the image below right.) The upper part of this register is now missing, but the scene appears to represent the transportation of food items in two papyrus boats, with three men in the first and four in the second. The only items now identifiable are the tails of three large fish.
The third register depicts fishing with a dragnet. Ten men divided into two groups of five are pulling the net ashore under the supervision of an overseer who stands in their midst and who, unlike them, wears a projecting kilt. The men are either naked or wear a loin-cloth which does not cover the genitals. Their movements and body postures are varied and the scene is lively. Details of the floats and sinkers of the net are clear and the eight fish caught may be identified as follows (from left) : Synodontis batensoda, Tilapia, Mormyrus kannume, Lates niloticus, Mugil (?), Petrocephalus bovei (?), Tetrodonfahaqa, Synodontis batensoda
The fourth and fifth registers are of a better quality and contain more details. This is also true for other lower register, perhaps because they are at eye level. Both registers represent the same theme, that of boatmen transporting gifts, which include birds, fish, baskets of fruit, vegetables, flowers and a calf. Each register contains two papyrus boats, with the water weed ‘potamogeton lucens’ floating on the water beneath them. The men at the stern, each wearing very little, expose their genitals; these men manoeuvre the boats using long poles. At the front of each craft, the men wear a short garment which only just extends down the upper part of his legs. Whilst those at the centre, even though they each carry food items, are mostly officials, as indicated by their titles and the projecting kilts they wear. The names of two of these men might even suggest a relationship to the tomb owner. The man in the centre of the first boat of register four has no identifying text but wears a kilt usually associated with the overseers of fowlers, herdsmen, or the like. All the men, except for one in the front of the first boat in register four, wear lotus crowns, three of them are unshaven. One man in each register carries with both hands a large fish. In register four (at the front) the fish is a Tilapia and in register five it’s a Mugil.
The identified men are as follows:
In register four, the first man in the first boat is described as: “The overseer of the linen, Anti”, whilst the man in the centre of the second boat, who wears a lotus neck garland, is “The judge and scribe, Nikauisesi”. Between these two boats an inscription describes the scene as: “Bringing the poultry”.
In register five, the man in the centre of the first boat is designated as:”The administrator of an estate, Iby”, whilst the man behind him is: “The overseer of fishermen and fowlers, Hesa”. The three men in the second boat are identified in the text as follows: “The ka-servant, Id”, “The scribe and attendant of the palace, Nikauisesi” and “The ka-servant, Idy”.
Above the entrance doorway.
The upper register shows bags, containers, jars perhaps of milk, stands and folded mats, usually associated with herdsmen.
The lower register depicts three oxen tethered by three herdsman. The cattle are labelled as “young oxen, long-horned”, the three leading hieroglyphs of the middle one is now lost. The men sit on the ground facing the animals which are held by tethers attached to collars and the lower jaws. Each man places one hand into the animal’s mouth, perhaps force feeding it with some kind of nourishment from a container which is placed on the floor in front of him. Alternatively the container may have held water for the animal to drink.
See a photo of most of this wall.
As in many other mastabas, this one has a scene of fowling in the marshlands and fully occupies the east wall. Nikauisesi is depicted in a large papyrus boat with a wooden deck, providing better footing and distribution of his weight on the vessel. He wears a broad collar, a necklace with an amulet and a short pleated sporting kilt. In one hand he holds some decoy birds, of which very little has survived. In the other, now completely lost, he must have held a throwing-stick.
Beneath the craft, the details of the water were probably produced in paint, which is now mostly lost. It cannot be determined whether fish and aquatic animals were represented in it. Like the the craft of the south wall, under them can be seen weeds floating on the water, however only at the rear. Among these can be seen a frog, a butterfly and a dragonfly. It now difficult to see the three creatures (see overlay photo)
The fowling takes place in a papyrus thicket depicted in front
of the tomb owner’s boat. This was all produced in painted raised
relief, but much of the paint has now disappeared. What remains of the
top of the thicket ends (on the left) in three rows of open umbels,
above which birds are flying, but of these birds, only a hoopoe can be
identified with certainty. All three surviving birds face towards the
Below this upper border, only the papyrus stems and umbels, or even just parts of them, are represented. These are ones upon which birds are perched or their nests rest, or on which animals climb. As already mentioned, these were produced in raised relief. Any background colour has been lost, possibly taking with it the bulk of papyrus stems. These may have been painted on to the background in order to be less intrusive, or perhaps they were never represented in order to prevent the scene from becoming too crowded. Most of the colour which has survived is at the bottom of the area and includes the figures of men in a small craft (this is described in detail later) and the one at the front of Nikauisesi’s craft. The lower positioned birds still retain some paint, but above they are becoming less distinguishable.
Where possible, in the description below, the Latin names have been given in brackets.
Four animals, two common genets (related to the cat family – Genetta Genetta) and two Egyptian Mongooses (Herpestes ichneumon) have climbed the stems and snatched birds or fledglings. At top left is depicted a partly damaged bird and its nest, below which an Egyptian goose (Alopochen aegypticus) is sitting on the eggs in its nest. To the right, a pair of pied kingfishers (Ceryle rudus) attack an Egyptian mongoose which has reached their nest and caught one of the fledglings. Further to the right two damaged herons (Ardea sp.) are also defending their nest against a common genet, beside which, standing on one leg, is what appears to be a lapwing chick (Vanellus vanellus). Starting at the left again, is an large image of a butterfly, next to which a goose is trying, unsuccessfully, to save one of its young birds from the mouth of a common ganet. Two more flying insects are found to the right of the bird. Below this group are two nests, each with a bird sitting on their eggs. The first is probably a purple gallinule (Porphyrio porphyrio) and the second is a glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus). Up to the right (if you are now lost, look almost top right) is an Egyptian goose sitting on eggs, whilst below it a similar bird is attacking an Egyptian mongoose which has already caught yet another of the same. To the right of this group is apparently a purple gallinule (Porphyrio porphyrio) standing on a papyrus umbel, flapping its wings and possibly about to take flight. At centre bottom is a heron resting on an umbel.
Amongst all this action are, in total, three butterflies and three dragonflies hovering in the air. Much of the finer detail has either been lost over time or only is of a mediocre quality. However, despite the quality, the artist has shown good knowledge of the characteristic features of the creatures he produced, but most of the original details were rendered in paint rather than in relief.
The small craft.
In front of the main craft, on which Nikauisesi stands, and facing it is another smaller one also made of papyrus. At the stern is a man propelling the boat by use of a long pole. In the centre is a seated man who holds a fishing line in one hand and a club in the other. To either side of him stand two men wearing kilts. The one at the front of the craft holds three geese in one hand and a crane in the other and is identified by the text above and behind his head, as “The judge, keeper of documents, the scribe of the phyle and ka-servant, Nimaatsed”. The rear most of the two standing men is described in the horizontal text above him as “The overseer of the linen, Anti”. He holds two geese, which have retained a reasonable amount of their blue colour, in one hand and a lotus flower in the other. The skin colour and black hair colour of these four men has survived well.
The absence of the Nikauisesi’s wife in this scene is most unusual (see page 1 under ‘His wife’).
However, he is accompanied by a number of family members and retainers shown in the boat or in registers in front and behind him. Many of these carry the throwing-sticks necessary for the activities of journey. All wear short, projecting kilts, whilst his two sons wear sashes across their chest and are not carrying birds or throwing-sticks. The sash of the son between his legs (the front-most of the two figures) is difficult to see because of it’s skin-tone colour, it passes under his broad blue necklace (see image). However, the upper one facing in the same direction but in front of him, carries a small papyrus roll in his left hand.
All the men are identified by names and titles.
Thus in front of the deceased are the following individuals:
At the top, very small and almost invisible, is “The attendant, Meny”.
The next two are:
“The judge and superintendent of scribes, Hemgi, (left),
“His son, his beloved, the senior lector priest, Meryisesi”.
At the bottom, left to right, are:
“The judge and scribe, Iaib”,
“The judge and scribe, Mehu”,
“The judge and scribe, Nikauisesi”, somewhat higher up the wall than the other two.
Behind the large figure of Nikauisesi, men were shown in two superimposed registers. The feet of three men are preserved in the upper registers, whilst two men appear in the lower register (left to right) identified as: “The judge and superintendent of scribes, Mesi” and “The judge and superintendent of scribes, Niankhkhnum”.
Represented between the tomb owner’s legs are two men: on the left is “… Nikauisesi (?) “, probably the son of the deceased, and “The sole companion, Mesi”. Their figures are most probably later additions to the decoration of this wall, because unlike the other figures, that of the first man is poorly executed in incised relief, rather unfinished relief, while that of the second man is only painted. It is likely that these men, the first of whom may have been Nikauisesi’s eldest son, took charge of his burial and were responsible for the later inscription in black ink recording its date immediately beneath their figures. The inscription reads: “The eleventh year, first month of the inundation season, day 20. Burial in the necropolis of the hereditary prince, the treasurer of the king of Lower Egypt, Nikauisesi”. This dating information has been discussed on page 1.
Recess of the entry to chamber V.
(See narrow view.)
At the extreme left of this wall, forming the eastern recess in which the doorway between chambers I and V opens, are depicted (in paint only) four (originally five) standing men in superposed registers. Three of these are reasonably well preserved and are wearing shoulder-length wigs and short, projecting kilts and have their hands by their sides. The labels identifying two of them are visible and read as follows: “The seal bearer and ka-servant, Ankh”, and “The ka-servant, Shepses”.
This wall includes, at its eastern (right) side, the entry into chamber V. The main area, to the left, includes a large image of the deceased accompanied by his son. Above the doorway and extending slightly beyond it, are two registers of farming scenes, birds and cattle. The whole area of the wall has lost much detail, making the texts difficult to read. But these were well recorded by Naguib Kanawati (see the line drawing opposite).
The large figure of the tomb owner wears a shoulder-length wig, a beard, a collar, a long necklace with an amulet, bracelets and a projecting kilt. He dominates the space on this wall, which is directly opposite the entrance doorway. He holds a long staff in his left hand and his sceptre of power in the other. At the top of the wall, Above him, he is identified in six vertical columns of text and a horizontal line below them. These read (from left to right, then the line) : “The hereditary prince, the count, the sole companion, the lector priest, | the treasurer of the king of Lower Egypt, the overseer of Upper Egypt, the overseer of the two workshops, | the overseer of all the works of the king, the honoured one. | The chief lector priest, the sole companion, the overseer of the two houses of gold. | The honoured one, before Osiris, lord of Abydos. | The honoured one before Anubis, lord of burial. | The treasurer of the king of Lower Egypt, the sole companion, Nikauisesi”.
A much smaller figure, that of Nikauisesi’s son, stands in front of his father’s legs. He wears a shoulder-length wig, a collar, a sash and a projecting kilt. With one hand holds a folded cloth and the other grasps his father’s staff. The text above him, which is written in very small hieroglyphs in seven lines, identifies him as: “His eldest son, his beloved, the sole companion, the senior lector priest, he who is privy to the secrets of the house of morning, Meryisesi”.
At the top of the wall, above the entry between this chamber and chamber V, the scene is described by the vertical column of text directly in front of Nikauisesi, as: “Viewing the feeding on grain by the cranes and the withdrawing of milk, for the treasurer of the king of Lower Egypt, Nikauisesi”.
The top register
contains two themes. The first, to the left, is labelled
“Feeding on grain by the r-geese and the Trp-geese”,
This shows two geese on the main register and three geese on a
sub-register above them. These upper ones are also described as “Tr-goose” and “Trp-goose”.
All five are feeding on the grain scattered on the ground. In the
second theme, a man is surrounded by six cranes. He carries a sack of
grain, whilst throwing some of its contents on to the ground. The
inscriptions above the scene reads: “Throwing down beneath them, the grain for the cranes” and “feeding, by the cranes”.
The bottom register should probably be viewed from right to left. On the right, a balding herdsman carries in one hand some fodder and in the other a stick resting over his shoulder, from which hangs a sack. He follows three cattle. One of them faces in the opposite direction to the others and curiously mounts the back of a cow from the side. The text above the scene states: “Coming out from the marshes to the land”. On the left, in front of the previous group, a cow is handled by two kneeling men under the supervision of another balding man, an overseer who wears the traditional kilt for his profession and leans on his staff. One of the men places his arm around the cow’s neck and holds a vessel close to its mouth, perhaps encouraging it to drink. The second man is busy milking the cow, collecting the milk in a large container. The text above this scenes states: “Drawing the milk of the gracious cow”.
The decoration of this wall extends into the west thickness of the entrance recess and at its northern end, the entry to chamber II, above which is the seated figure of Nikauisesi overlooking the scenes of the manufacture of bread and beer, portrayed in the five registers of the main southern section of the wall. The upper portion of the wall is missing, as is also a large section of the left-hand area, down to the level of the top of the doorway.
Above the doorway.
Nikauisesi sits in a chair having four lion’s legs. He wears a broad collar, bracelets and, although now lost, he probably had a shoulder length wig. He holds a sceptre in an upright position in the left hand whilst his raised right hand may have held a perfume jar close to his nose, which, along with his whole head, is now missing. A vertical column of inscription, at the left hand edge of the scene, describes the location of the activities he is watching. It reads: “The storehouse of the funerary estate of the hereditary prince, Nikauisesi”.
A small figure faces him in a sub-register in front of his legs. This man wears a shoulder-length wig, a broad collar and a projecting, short kilt and between his hands he holds a censer. He is identified in the text above him as “His eldest son, his beloved, the sole companion, Nikauisesi”.
was probably depicted in a higher sub-register above the text, however very little remains.
Under the chair is a man with a chest deformity (see close-up view). He is labelled as “The seal bearer, Ityi”. One of his hands supports a box against his shoulder, whilst with his other hand he holds the leash of a dog resting on its hind quarters in front of him.
Behind the chair is a man described as “The seal bearer of the books, Mehu”. On his head he carries a monkey, his right hand holding a leash attached to the monkey’s collar. The animal is shown eating some kind of fruit. Mehu and the monkey appear to be later additions and unlike the rest of the figures of the scene, which are in raised relief, these figures are incised and the base line of this whole scene had to be lowered at this right-hand end in order to make room for Mehu’s feet. This can be seen in the line drawing, appearing to slope from left to right in comparison with the top of the doorway.
Narrow wall section.
Beneath Mehu, in this narrow wall section, between the doorway and the north wall, are painted three standing male figures in superposed registers (see c1-wwall-03-cm). They wear long wigs, pleated kilts and each is designated as “ka-servant”.
Large wall area.
The wall opposite the tomb owner was presumably divided, like the south wall, into five registers, the uppermost one of which is now completely missing. The remaining four registers are occupied by scenes showing the making of bread and beer, all of which are probably to be read from the bottom register upwards.
The bottom register
includes activities described as “Bringing the entry of the daily requirements for inspection”.
At the centre of the scene sit two scribes in two superposed
sub-registers, with full scribal equipment and in the process of
recording the activities. The one in the upper sub-register, who rests
his equipment of a large box, is identified as “The keeper of documents, the scribe of the phyle, Sedi”, and the one below him, who uses a large box as a support, probably containing other papyrus scrolls, is “The judge and superintendent of scribes, Nikauisesi” (this must be the son).
Seated behind each of the scribes are two men holding or inspecting loaves of bread and jars, presumably of beer.
In front of the scribes (in the single register) stand two men. The first, identified as “The overseer of the storehouse of HT (A)-bread”, is shown placing a loaf of bread into a container. The second, having the title “The overseer of the storehouse of beer”, is pouring beer from a jar into a container.
Finally, behind them, stands a man described as “The crier of the granary”, who is most probably calling out, in a loud voice, the amounts of bread and beer for the scribes to record.
The second register from the bottom (see the image above) shows the issuing of grain from the granaries and is labelled “The recording of that which comes out of the granary containing pxA-grain, the granary containing Lower Egyptian grain and the granary containing…”.
In the left half of the register six silos are depicted, which suggests two for each of the three types of grain.
To the right of these, two men are bending and filling their measures with the grain. The first is described as “The director of grain-measurers, Nianti”, however the second man is simply named “Qar”, with no indication of his title. To the right are two scribes in the process of recording, one named “Hesiankhti” and the other “Ihy”. Each has his ink pad hanging from his belt. They are looking away from the measurers, probably to face the tomb owner. However, they are assisted again by a crier, named “Qednes”, who reports the measurements to them.
The next two registers have a large section missing from the centre.
The third register, unfortunately
incompletely preserved, presumably records the manufacturing of bread
and beer. On the right-hand side, the upper half of the register
projects over the top corner of the doorway to chamber II. Captioned as “Mixing and straining every good thing… Nikauisesi”, it shows people pouring liquid into the dough, kneading, making loaves, baking, etc.
The first man at the right, standing beside a low table with loaves, with a very small seated figure in front of that, faces the tomb owner and carries more loaves on a tray. The inscription in front of him reads: “For the ka of Nikauisesi”.
At the far left (see the line drawing), the register is subdivided, with a kneeling man preparing the loaves on the upper sub-register, above a seated man tending the oven whose partly preserved text reads: “… heating”.
The fourth register depicts sealed jars (see top centre of c1-wwall-06-cm for the only recognisable remaining section).
To the right is a man bending in front of the tomb owner and holding a bowl in his hand. The inscription below his arm reads: “Tasting the beer”. Behind him the register is divided in two and part of an inscription remaining in the lower half reads: “Requirement of 200…”.
Only a small piece of the left side has survived, which contains a few upright vessels.
The doorway from chamber I opens up into chamber II at the north end of the east wall, see the mastaba plan opposite.
Almost identical in size and shape to chamber I, chamber II is 2.05m east-west, 2.12m north-south. The original north wall has survived to a height of 2.68m and that of the west to 2.37m. The east and south walls are only preserved to a height of 2.09m, with most of the south wall only surviving to the height of the colour bands above the dado.
In addition to the entrance from chamber I, there are two other doorways. The one at the western end of the north wall provides access to chamber III. The other, providing access to a ‘L’-shaped courtyard, is located at the southern end of the west wall.
DOORWAY FROM CHAMBER I
This is located at the north end of the west wall of chamber I, described on the previous page.
The passageway measures 0.75m wide, 2.10m hight and 0.75m long. At the chamber II side this is widened to take a door.
The scenes on both main thicknesses of this doorway were produced in fine, coloured relief. These, just like the thicknesses of the other doorways between the different chambers of the chapel, have survived to their full height, because the original ceilings of all the doorways are still in place, the one of this doorway having retained it red colour. The actual scenes extend all the way to ceiling level, with the bottom being edged and separated from the floor by the broad coloured bands and dado as found in chamber I (see photos opposite).
Each thickness is divided into two registers, both depicting the bringing of animals for inspection. On both thicknesses the animals and the men proceed from chamber I into chamber II. Each of the registers contain three men and two animals, the upper ones contain ‘exotic’ animals, whilst the lower ones contain oxen. All the men in the two upper registers have short wigs which cover their ears, whilst all those in the lower registers have short hair with their ears showing. The men of the upper registers also wear short, tight kilts. The first man of the lower register of the north thickness wears a short, projecting kilt, whilst the one on the south thickness wears the herdsman kilt. All the other men wear loin-cloths. Many of them are balding but one is unshaven with a good growth of beard.
Two men in the upper register
are leading on leashes two scimitar-horned oryxes, which are followed
by a herdsman carrying a sack hanging from a stick, which rests over his
shoulder. The caption above them reads: “Bringing the young scimitar-horned oryxes for the viewing”.
The man at the head of the lower register is designated as “The overseer of pastures”. His name was later roughly scratched onto the wall, in front of his legs, as “…ifkhu”. He is followed by a man leading two oxen which are followed by the unshaven herdsman carrying a raised stick. Although his beard is now difficult to see, it is easy to see that he is balding. The label above this lower scene reads: “Bringing the young oxen for the viewing”.
The two men of the upper register
are leading gazelles, which are followed by a herdsman holding a rope
attached to the back legs of the animals. The caption describing the
scene reads: “Bringing the young gazelles for the viewing”.
The captions in the lower register are identical to those on the opposite thickness and the figures are, in most respects, similar to those of the facing wall.
A name has been scratched onto the wall in front of the first man of both registers, which reads: “Meritef”.
ENTRY RECESS FROM CHAMBER I
Located at the chamber II side, the entry passageway is widened
to take a door. This recess is 1.12m wide, 2.25m high and 0.25m long,
making it 0.3m wider than the actual passageway which is located
The relief decoration of the north wall of the recess is the right-hand part of the scenes of the north wall of chamber II.
The remainder of the recess, the south wall and the east face which surrounds the actual entry passageway, is undecorated except for the lower border bands and dado, although there are traces of red on the ceiling area. The upper area has a rough finished with chisel marks which are still visible.
THE ACTUAL CHAMBER
As with the previous chamber, the actual scene
decorations are positioned above a border of red (top), yellow and black
horizontal bands of approximately 10cm, edged with thin black lines.
These are above the approximate 1 metre high dado area, which in this
chamber, has retained a fair degree of its colour, which is blackish but
slightly lighter than the bottom black band. This, as in chamber I,
places the bottom of the scene area approximately 1.25m above the floor.
The bottom two registers of all the walls of this chamber are dominated by scenes of female offering bearers, usually representing funerary estates. They all walk towards either the entry to chamber III or towards the tall standing figure of Nikauisesi. Although the names of the associated estates are frequently inscribed in front of each woman, only one such name has survived in relief on the west wall. It is uncertain whether other names were written in paint, which has since disappeared. Each woman carries a basket filled with items of food on her head supported by one hand, while in the other she carries a bird, a vegetable or a flower and on rare occasions more than one object. A few women also lead a young calf on a leash or have an offering item hanging from their raised arm.
The upper registers contain (when they have survived) a variety of scenes, including piles of offerings, or, as on the north wall, the scene of the transportation of Nikauisesi by a palanquin carried by a multitude of porters.
The wall has a width of 2.05m and a surviving height of 2.68m.
At the western side, the wall includes the entrance doorway to chamber III which is possitioned 30cm from the west wall, providing a decoration zone. The opening itself is 0.75m wide with a height of 2.1m.
Passing between the north wall and the east door thickness, at a height of about 26cm from the floor, is another small hole, the second of these such holes (see see from chamber I entry).
Above the lower decoration bands, an approximate 5cm undecorated area surrounds this entrance on both sides and the top, with no sign of a decorative border having been produced. The decorated versions of these type of borders were created at the east and west sides of the wall, but the only piece easy to see is on the west side, seen in the left-hand image below. The scenes of the wall were divided into four registers (the first being at the bottom), with the upper part of the top fourth register now missing. Both of the two lower registers are twice the height of the third, which was probably reduced to allow for the larger top one in which the palanquin procession is depicted.
The two lower registers, like those of other
walls in this room, contain images of female offering bearers carrying
baskets and food items. The direction which the figures proceed
indicates that they are moving from chamber I towards chamber III. Thus
on the east, south and west walls and those to the left of the doorway
on the north wall progress clockwise, whilst those on the north wall, to
the right of doorway, progress anti-clockwise.
The bottom registers of this wall are divided by the entry to chamber III, placing eight offering bearers in each register on the right and only a single one in each on the left. The females on either side of the entry to chamber III (that is, the leading one on right-hand side) are accompanied by one calf. All the females hold, with a single hand, a basket or container of goods on her head, whilst most hold either a small bouquet of lotus or a bird in the other. The woman of the bottom register to the left of the entry to chamber III carries a great deal more than any of the others (see the image left above).
There is no accompanying text in either register.
The third register passes immediately above the top of the doorway (see c2-nwall-04-cm). It is filled with five identified heaps of fruits (four on the right-hand side and one on the left) and some loaves of bread. The fruits are named as follows (from right) : 1) “jSd-fruit”, 2) “nbs-fruit”, 3) “wnS-fruif, 4) “grapes”, 5) – located beyond the piles of breads – “figs”. The loaves are identified twice as “One thousand of nbs-fruit cake”.
The top register (see the line drawing, c2-nwall-04-cm and c2-nwall-05-cm
for more detail) is now missing its upper part, but what survives
contains the remains of a scene of the transportation of Nikauisesi by a
palanquin. Only the feet of the tomb owner have survived and can be
seen below what is almost certainly a low chair supported on long poles
shown to be carried on the shoulders of nine men, five at the front and
four at the rear. It is almost certain that they only represent the men
on one side, thus making eighteen men, ten at the front and eight at the
rear, but usually some indication is made of this duplicity (see the line drawing
from the east wall of chamber I of Meryteti’s part of the Mereruka
mastaba). These men all wear short wigs (which expose their ears) and
loin-cloths with three flaps. They are led by a man in a short plain
kilt, who is identified as “The overseer of gangs of workmen”. The second man is described as “The director of a gang of workmen I…i”.
These are preceded by three men (only the legs of the first two have
survived) who presumably carrying various items required for the
journey. The third man (on the left) is named “Niankhkhnum”, while the first has partly preserved graffiti identifying him as “The overseer of…”.
Nikauisesi is accompanied by his pet animals and a dwarf, who probably looked after them. These can all be seen below his seat. Three dogs are named (right to left) as 1) “ai”, 2) “Baq”, and 3) “Idji” and a monkey perched on the shoulders and head of the dwarf, “Iri”. It is possible that this dwarf “Iri” is the same as “Iriniptah”, who appears on the west wall of chamber III, to be seen later.
The wall has a width of 2.12m and a surviving height of 2.37m. A
doorway to the courtyard is offset 18cm from the south wall, providing a
narrow decoration zone. The actual passageway itself is the same size
as the one on the north wall, 0.75m wide with a height of 2.1m. Above
the lower decoration bands, an approximate 5cm area again exists
surrounding this entrance on both sides and the top, however, unlike the
northern doorway, parts of the decorative border
still exist, as do small traces at the north and south edge of the
wall. This courtyard entrance is currently closed to the public by a
grill and the view is even closed off by a solid cover behind it. A
small hole is cut through the corner of the northern side of the doorway
from the west wall of chamber II to the northern thickness, about 13cm
above the floor (see c2-wwall-03-cm). This is the third of the six holes.
On this wall, much of the colour has been lost from the scenes, with virtually none existing on the figure of Nikauisesi himself.
The layout and contents of the scenes displayed on this wall
are in many ways similar to those on the opposite east wall, which will
be dealt with below. The tomb owner stands, facing left, holding the
staff and sceptre and wearing a shoulder-length wig and a beard. He
wears a broad necklace and only one bracelet, which is on his right
wrist. Unlike the figure on the east wall, he is bare-footed, but is
dressed in full leopard skin, with the claws shown on his shoulder and
kilt, the head below his waist and the tail dangling between his legs.
As seen on the facade of the mastaba, his image portrays the strange
anomaly, the sceptre passes behind his kilt, yet he holds it with his
left hand (which should be closest to the viewer). As already stated,
this is due to a strange ancient Egyptian perspective, indicating that
he is holding the sekhem sceptre of power in his right hand, and long
cane of office in his left. This occurs again on the east wall.
In front of him is his eldest son, Nikauisesi, holding his father’s staff (see c2-wwall-05-cm). Bare footed, he wears a projecting kilt, a shoulder-length wig and a collar. The inscription above him reads: “His eldest son, his beloved, the sole companion, Nikauisesi”. Behind the tomb owner is a dwarf designated as “The overseer of gangs of workmen, Iriniptah” (see c2-wwall-06-cm).
The figure of the tomb owner originally took up the full height of the right-hand side of the wall and taking up about a third of the total width. The remainder of the wall space facing him was divided into three registers of similar heights. These registers each contain the figures of three offering bearers, all facing the figure of Nikauisesi (only two on those of the east wall, this reduction will be explained there).
In the top register three males are depicted carrying various offerings. The first of these is almost totally lost and also the top of the heads of the other two. The last one, who has a small calf walking beside him, is named “Heneni”. The extension of this register, above the doorway between chamber II and the open courtyard, shows the remains of scenes of offerings in containers and birds, some inside a cage.
The middle register shows three female offering bearers, supporting baskets on their heads and carrying a bird or a lotus flower in their hands.
The bottom register, which has retained more of the colour than the rest of this wall, is labelled “Bringing gifts by the lake of the estate”. As on the east wall a male figure described as “The lake belonging to the ka-chapel”. He may represent a personification of a lake situated among the many funerary estates represented by female offering bearers in this chamber in particular. He holds birds and lotus flowers and above him was scratched the name “Djau”. Behind him is a female offering bearer, the only one with an estate name inscribed in relief, although its reading is uncertain. The following reading has been suggested: “The remover of fear desires that Teti lives”.
This wall has lost most of its original decorated blocks, its surface now being mostly a modern restoration. Even the red band at the bottom of the decorated area is lost in the middle, the only original decoration still extending the full length of the wall is the yellow bottom border band and even this has faded.
All that remains on the right-hand side of the wall are the legs of Nikauisesi and even these are not complete. He can be seen wearing sandals and facing to the left.
In what remains of the left-hand side of the wall (see c2-swall-03-cm) are two registers of female offering bearers walking towards the right. Each of these supports a basket on her head and carries one or more items in her other hand. No names of individuals or localities have survived.
This wall includes at its northern end the entrance recess of the doorway to chamber I, which was described in detail at the top of this page. In total, the wall has a width of 2.12m and a surviving height of 2.09m. The only area for decoration is above and to the south of the doorway recess. The south decoration area is less in width than that of the west wall because of the larger space taken up by the doorway. Above the lower decoration bands, an approximate 5cm area again exists surrounding this entrance on the right-hand side and the top. Very faint traces of the decorative border still exist. A similar vertical band was created at the right edge of the wall.
At the extreme right is the tall representation of the standing figure of Nikuaisesi, holding the staff and sceptre. He wears at least one bracelet (on his left wrist), a short, projecting kilt and sandals (unlike his image on the west wall, where he has bare feet).
Again, in front of him, also facing left and holding his staff, stands his son, who wears a short wig with a streamer, a collar and a short, projecting kilt. The inscriptions above him read: “His eldest son, his beloved, the sole companion, Nikauisesi”. This time there is no dwarf standing behind the tomb owner.
Facing them are the two lower registers of three, only a
fragment has survived of the top one with a fragment of one male porter
(almost certainly of two) and a narrow band of offerings above the
doorway. In the middle register are two females and in the third
(bottom) register is a solitary male.
This porter of the bottom register (see the image above left) is of particular interest because of his long wig with a tress falling over the collar and also because of his labelling text: “The lake belonging to the ka-chapel”, as with another male figure on the west wall. The figure holds three geese in each hand and a sack presumably full of a kind of fruit. Behind him is graffiti giving the name of “Meritef”, probably the same person who scratched his name on the north thickness of the doorway between chambers I and II.
The left part of the wall is occupied by the above mentioned doorway, above which are the remains of the upper register (see c2-ewall-03-cm). In this can be seen some offerings in containers and some pigeons in a cage (see c2-ewall-04-cm).
Near the top right-hand corner of this wall has been inserted a fragment found during the excavation. Its attribution to this wall or even the tomb is questionable. The text gives part of four vertical lines of hieroglyphs which read: “… the overseer of the two workshops… | … the embalmer of Anubis, the… of Anubis… | … Osiris, lord of Busiris | Anubis, who is on his hill, lord of the sacred land…”.
Page 4 / 8
The doorway from chamber II opens up into chamber III at east end of the south wall, see the mastaba plan opposite. The entry passage is 0.75m wide with a height of 2.1m with a length of 0.52m. This entry is, however, first extended at the chamber III end by a another passage, with a slightly higher ceiling and with the entry being positioned centrally. This extension is 1.07m wide, 2.25m high by 1.00m in length. Its east wall is level with that of the east wall of the main chamber. However, the west wall is indented from the main west wall by approximately a metre, thus producing a south wall. The size and shape of this extended passage is probably related to the wish to provide a relatively large open space into the courtyard to its west (see the plan opposite).
This long and narrow chamber is the offering chamber, the place where later visitors, on the annual celebration of the life of the deceased, brought their offerings. It measures, beyond the extended passage, 2.10m wide with a length of 6.17m and an estimated height of 3.15m. A piece of original ceiling still exists in the south-west corner, just beyond the lower ceiling of the extended passage, above the entry to chamber IV (see ceiling view-cm and the south view opposite). Because of its current location above a burial shaft which was created at a much later date and whose creation removed details from the surrounding walls, it is almost certain that this did not originate from here. This ceiling fragment was not placed on top of a surviving decorated part of the wall, but a modern piece of masonry, again leaving some doubt to its original height. This later shaft is discussed in full on page 8.
At the southern end of the offering chamber are two more
doorways, one in the west wall leading to chamber IV and the other in
the east wall, partially inside the extended passage area (see d3-5-view-01-cm),
leading to chamber V. Of the eight doors in the mastaba, only these two
have a raised threshold and, like the doorway to the staircase in the
courtyard (which leads to the roof), they do not have the standard 2.10m
height of the others. Judging by the fact that the eastern doorway cuts
into the details of the scene decoration of this wall, it would appear
that it may have been an afterthought by Nikauisesi.
Also at the southern end of this chamber, in the floor, is the mouth of the afore mentioned intrusive burial chamber shaft, now covered over for safety reasons (see the south facing image above).
Built across the full width of the north wall is a stone bench and the northern half of the west wall is occupied by a large offering table, constructed within a recess.
DOORWAY FROM CHAMBER II
The doorway is entered from chamber II at the west end of the north wall. It is 0.75m wide, 2.10m high and 0.52m long. It leads centrally into a secondary extension passage which is both wider and higher than this entry passage. The extension is described in detail below.
The decoration of both walls of the actual entry (not the extension) is divided into two registers, each containing three men carrying good towards chamber III, the top of the upper register extends up to the ceiling height. Both walls have the three broad bands (red, yellow and black) and the dado, however, the height at which they sit has been raised above that of chamber II (see the colour image above). The bottom of the yellow band is level with the top of the red of chamber II, but the bottom black band extends down to the bottom level of this band in chamber II. The result of this is that the two registers occupy only one third of the total height of the passageway, the bottom of the lower register being just over 1.3m above floor level.
Located on the left on entry, the six men carry a variety of
small vessels. The individuals (right to left) on this west thickness
• in the top register, where very little text remains: 1)…lost…, 2) “The ka-servant, Nen…i”, 3) “The ka-servant, …”.
• in the bottom register: 1) “The ka-servant, Isesiankhu”, 2) “The ka-servant, Sekai”, 3) “The ka-servant, Tuau”.
Once again the six men carry a variety of small vessels towards chamber III. No names or titles have survived in the top register, but two rearmost individuals in the bottom register are designated as “The superintendent of Ankh”.
SECONDARY EXTENSION PASSAGE
This extension has a slightly higher ceiling than the actual entry, although still lower than that of chamber III. The extension measures 1.07m wide (east-west), 1.00m in length (north-south) and 2.25m in height.
This wall, which surrounds the actual entry, is undecorated and is an equal width on both sides. In the ceiling of the top west corner is the hole for taking the pivot of a door.
The east wall is part of the full east wall of the main chamber and as such will be described with it. It does however display similar content to the west wall opposite and is likewise divided into two registers.
The clarity of the decoration of its two registers is now not very good, but still discernible, each being just over 0.4m in height.
The upper register is titled in a line of text above it as “Bringing the gifts and all the good yearly offerings, which are brought for him from his two houses of eternity”. Beneath this inscription is a row of five offering bearers, each proceeding into the chamber and each supporting with both hands trays placed on his shoulders and containing items of food and drink. Each of them also leads a small animal and, in most cases, carries other food items hanging from his arm.
The bottom register depicts a butchery scene. To the right two men are working on a gazelle. One man supports the animal’s foreleg and addresses the other man who holds the knife: “Finish with its foreleg, hurry up”. His companion replies: “I will do as you wish”. To the left another pair of men are working on a second animal, presumably a Nubian ibex. One of the butchers passes the whetstone over his knife to sharpen it and addresses his companion saying: “Get the fillet! The lector priest is performing the ceremony”. The companion responds: “Take, at once, comrade”. Between the two groups an offering bearer is represented carrying the foreleg of an animal over his shoulders.
The theme of butchery also appears in the full length of the bottom register of the east wall, but not in those of the west and north walls of chamber III. Here their theme is that of offering bearers, as in the upper register of this extended passage wall.
THE ACTUAL OFFERING CHAMBER
As with the previous chambers, the actual scene
decorations are positioned above a coloured pair of horizontal bands and
a dado area, in total taking up a height of just over 1.3m, the new
raised level, the same as in the entry passages. Unlike the previous
chamber, the dado and the black band have retained the same depth of
colour, so no separate black band now exists.
All the walls, with exception of the the east and west ones of the second entry passage, were originally composed of four registers. These registers, with the exception of the bottom one, include a descriptive text band above them, edged at top and bottom by a narrow black line. The text of the bottom register describes the individual scenes, not the total register. The contents of the registers are typical of the offering chambers of this period. As mentioned above, the walls of the secondary passage have two registers, the ones of the east wall being part of the main east wall of the actual chamber.
In the surviving areas of wall decoration, with the exception of the walls associated with the later burial shaft (see the see south), much of the colour has been retained.
The reliefs on the south wall have been carefully and smoothly rubbed out and only a few barely distinguishable outlines are visible. This was almost certainly done by those responsible for the excavation of the burial shaft, a late intrusion which was presumably excavated after the tomb lost its roof, or at least part of it, and was covered with sand and debris. Access to the shaft was thus from above the tomb, using sections of the chapel’s walls as part of the walls for the shaft above the section cut into the rock. The reliefs on the sections of the east and west walls of chamber III, immediately above the shaft and in a clear vertical line, have been similarly treated, although less rigidly than is the case for those on the south wall; thus parts of their scenes can be produced in outline, hence no line drawing for this south wall. It seems likely that the owner of this later shaft, which gave access to his burial chamber, did not wish to leave on the walls scenes and inscriptions belonging to an earlier tomb owner.
In total this wall measures, beyond the extended passage, 6.17m in length, with an estimated height of 3.15m. The southern part, which includes the doorway to chamber IV, still contains its original decoration, although somewhat damaged due the production of the later burial shaft, which extends 17cm beyond the right-hand side of the doorway. The northern end is taken up with a recessed area containing an offering table. At the junction between the two areas, the adjoining decoration of the southern part is intersected in mid-scene although the original part of this wall possibly extended further. What now remains of the southern section is approximately 2.2m in length, but certainly extended further.
Southern part of the wall
This doorway of this wall was, like those of chamber II, originally separated from the imagery by the narrow border design, any colour from which is no longer visible, but the space for it still exists below the register above the doorway and extending down the sides (see the doorway view). The reliefs on this section of the wall, above and on both sides of the doorway to chamber IV, are very poorly preserved for reasons already stated. The wall is divided into four registers, all depicting processions of offering bearers laden with various items of food and drink in baskets, sacks, jars and on trays. Some also carry lotus flowers in bunches or placed in a bowl. Brought also are live birds in their hand or in cages, as well as live animals, including calves, scimitar-horned oryxes, dorcas gazelles and a Nubian ibex.
The decorated area of the wall certainly extended further than indicated by the modern reconstruction. The beginning of the text above the bottom register is missing, which could have been similar to that above the bottom register of the north wall. By accepting the position of the right-hand end of the black dado (which stops 0.12m from the left-hand side of the recessed area for the deposit of the offerings (see c3-wwall-02-cm) as being the original end of the decorated area, then the decorated area would have extended just over 0.6m, giving a total length for this southern end at just under 3.0m The offering structure is discussed in more detail below.
Photographs of this area reveal that the imagery is difficult
to observe, especially in the upper registers above the doorway (see c3-wwall-03-cm). The colour and detail of the figures which has been retained is visible to the right of the doorway (see c3-wwall-04-cm). However a good degree of detail can be seen in a monochrome photograph (see c3-wwall-05-nk).
In the top register, only the remains the lower part of the bodies of some of the porters and animals have survived. The next-to-bottom register is reduced in height above the doorway, so this left-hand end only includes piles of produce.
In the lower three, partially preserved descriptive texts have survived, as follows:
Register 2: “… every… as offerings for him therein, at the opening of the yearly feast, the Thot feast, …, Nikauisesi.”
Register 3: “… which are brought for him from his estates and his towns of the Delta and Upper Egypt, that offerings may come forth therein at the opening of the year feast and the Thot feast for the treasurer of the king of Lower Egypt, … [the overseer of] Upper Egypt, Nikauisesi.”
Register 4: (at the bottom) “… his estates and his towns of the Delta and Upper Egypt as offerings therein for the treasurer of the king of Lower Egypt, the sole companion, Nikauisesi.”
Northern part of the wall
The northern half of the west wall is occupied by a large
offering table, although not so much a table because it is actually a
solid structure, 1.10m high, constructed within a recess. The top is
formed from a huge monolithic limestone block, 3.90m long by 0.80m high,
placed on a single course of stone blocks approximately 0.30m high, the
joint of the two being just visible in this view. This block extended slightly under the southern end of the wall.
To indicate its function as an offering platform, it contains the large hieroglyph for “offering”, a Htp-sign , which is displayed with the top of the sign pointing forwards. The sign, which measures 2.35m. north-south by 0.53m, is highlighted by being surrounded at the front by a 5cm depressed area. The surface, coated with a fine gypsum plaster, is now extensively pitted, probably as a result of its actual use for the placement for food items in antiquity.
It is possible that the space behind the Htp-sign was occupied by a false door, although nothing of it has been found.
The north and south side walls of the recess, which are a modern restoration, as already stated, almost certainly do not follow the original construction. From the evidence given in the discussion of the southern part of the wall, the south face may have been located 0.12m from the left-hand side of the recessed area containing the Htp-sign. Thus the recess was probably 2.60m north-south, ending level with the front of the bench located in front of the north wall. The present depth within the reconstructed walls is 0.90m, but several loose decorated blocks which were found in the main shaft, which include the name of Nikauisesi, are thought to belong to the side walls of this recess. If this is correct, then the depth would have been about 1.40m.
The top of the major fragment (actually two) (see c3-wwall-08-nk and line drawing) was decorated with a kheker frieze on top of the usual band of coloured rectangles. Below this, a line of text reads: “An offering which the king gives and an offering which Osiris gives to the hereditary prince, the count, the sole companion, Nikauisesi. Beneath the inscription are the upper remains of stacks of food; cuts of meat, vegetables, fruits, etc. These were probably intended to represent the items deposited by the many offering bearers shown on the southern section of the wall proceeding towards this recess with its false door and offering table.
The original width of this wall was 2.10m. As can be seen in
the image left, the reconstruction of the upper part of north part of
the west wall does not meet up with north wall itself. In fact it leaves
a gap of approximately 0.35m.
Built in front of this rear wall, across the full width, is a 1.15m high bench/table, with a depth of 0.60m. This height difference, between the offering table (1.10m high) and this bench, can be seen in the image left. The top is formed of five pieces of limestone mortared together and supported on two bases built of limestone blocks, the right-hand one being about twice the width of the other, leaving a niche between the two of 0.60m wide by 0.90m high by 0.55m deep. The top was decorated with a cavetto cornice (now almost lost) and a torus moulding is located at the lower edge, extending down the outer part of the two supporting blocks. The feature of a cavetto-corniced bench along the north wall of the offering chapel is found elsewhere in the Teti cemetery in tombs of viziers and other important officials. The top surface of the bench is coated, as are the walls of the bases and niche beneath, with a thick coat of gypsum plaster.
The decoration of this rear wall shows that the top of the
bench is below the height of the black dado area, thus even leaving room
for the two colour bands (see image right).
The bottom register is almost completely preserved, but only parts of the two registers above it remain, the top one is lost in its entirety. The wall was completely occupied by the figures of offering bearers, all progressing towards the offering table. Each carries food items on trays supported on the porters shoulders, or held in the hand or hanging over the crook of his arm. Most of the porters are accompanied by a small animal on a leash. In general the scene is less crowded than those of offering bearers on the other walls of this chamber.
Each register is accompanied by a row of text above it, which reads from left to right.
• The line of descriptive inscription above the bottom register (4) is complete and states: “Bringing gifts, all year offerings and every good thing which are brought for him from his estates and his towns of the Delta and Upper Egypt, for the treasurer of the king of Lower Egypt, the sole companion, Nikauisesi.”
• The preserved part of the text above the next register (3), of which even of this only the top area remains, states: “… which are brought at the opening of the year feast and the Thot feast, as offerings for the treasurer of the king of Lower Egypt, the sole companion, …”.
• All that remains of the text above the last surviving register (2) is: “The sole companion, Nikauisesi”.
• As already stated, the top register (1) is totally lost.
For a composite photo of virtually all of this wall click here.
This is the longest wall of the tomb and was originally fully decorated, although, like the north wall, it has now totally lost its upper register. A large portion of the bottom register still exists, with reasonable degree of the one above it, however, only fractions exist of the second register.
The decoration extends from the north wall into the east wall of the secondary passage leading into the chamber. The doorway which exists between chambers III and V was curiously opened into the wall after the decoration was completed, resulting in the obvious removal of parts of the two lower registers. This change to the original tomb plan was presumably undertaken on behalf of the tomb owner himself and was accomplished with great care. Further details about this doorway are given later. The purpose of such an alteration is uncertain, but may have been aimed at providing an easy access, perhaps for the ka of the deceased, from chamber V (where the shaft to the burial chamber is located) to chamber III (with the offering table). Although, presumably, the ka should have been using the false door located behind the table. This calls into doubt as to whether the false door was actually produced, hence the fact that no trace has been found.
The section of the east wall immediately above the later shaft has lost most of its reliefs which, like those on the south wall and part of the west wall, have been carefully rubbed out.
The bottom register
This, like most east walls of offering chambers in the Teti cemetery, was reserved for the representation of the butchery cycles. All the men wear short, wrap-around kilts which allow them freedom of movement. The dialogue between them is recorded individually above each group, separated by vertical lines.
Starting from the right (south, in the extended entry passage), the first group of three men are working on a bound animal, probably a Nubian ibex, which appears to have tears running from its eye. The butcher on the left holds the foreleg of the animal upright and says to his companion, who holds a knife in one hand and another object in the other: “Extract this heart, hurry up”. The other replies: “I do as you wish”. The third man, standing on the right, holding a knife, appears to making an incision above the animal’s rear legs.
Only one man and the hind part of an animal has survived of the second group. The animal could be either a gazelle or an ibex. The rest of this group has been lost due to creation of the entry to chamber V. This remaining man is seen pulling on a rope, probably binding the animal. Only part of the text above him is preserved and its meaning is somewhat unclear, stating: “… as you wish, comrade. Behold it!”
The whole of the following third group is lost and a large portion of the fourth. Of this one, only the man standing at the head of the animal (which is all that remains of it) sharpening his knife, is all that has survived and even this is difficult to discern (see right side of the scene 4/5 view). The hieroglyphic sign ‘d’ immediately in front of the top of this man’s head is perhaps part of ‘ds’ which translates as “knife”.
The following fifth group is composed of three men, the one to the right pulling the rope to bind the animal and the other two working on removing its foreleg (see major left side of the scene 4/5 view). The man to the left is labelled (sgm) “butcher” and is holding a knife which he applies to the foreleg, held upright by an assistant. Addressing the assistant the butcher says: “Hold it fast”, to which the assistant replies: “It is held fast; finish with its foreleg, hurry up.”.
Separating this group from the next is a man carrying a leg of meat over his shoulder (see right side of the image opposite).
The next group (6) consists of two men, each described as a “butcher” and as such both are using knives to cut what appears to be a scimitar-horned oryx (see major left side of the image opposite). The butcher to the left tells his companion “Slaughter skilfully” but for some reason he is seen to touch his forehead with his left hand, perhaps he is sweating from the effort he puts into his work. His companion’s response is equally unexpected: “You grew very tired”.
Next, is another man carrying a leg of meat and a fillet of meat in the crook of his arm. He appears to be addressing the group (7) of three men in front of him, who are working on a bound ox. He says: “Behold the heart. Remove (it) for me. Prepare the cuts of meat for me”. One of the three men holds a knife and as usual in this scene he is the only one in the group designated as a “butcher”. He is about to cut the animal’s foreleg, held upright by one of the assistants, who says: “Cut quickly, my brother”. The man in the centre has placed his arm inside the animal’s body, presumably to extract its heart.
To the right of the next group (8) is a man carrying a leg of meat, who is identified by the text in front of him as the “ka-servant”. The group consists of two men removing the foreleg of an ox. The one on the right, who identified as the “butcher”, is using his knife to cut the foreleg, while saying to his companion: “Pull towards you, comrade”. His workmate, who doesn’t appear to be exerting much effort responds calmly: “I will do as you wish”. To the left of this eighth group stands a man who sharpens his knife on the whetstone and has the associated “sharpening” text.
To the right of the ninth group, with his back to the man sharpening his knife, stands another, who holds a large bowl in both hands and says to the only man of the ninth group: “Make way for me”. This man, described again as the “butcher”, is working alone on an already slaughtered ox. He holds in one hand his knife and in the other he holds what appears to be the animal’s heart. He offers this to the man facing him, who like so many others carried a leg of meat on his shoulder, saying: “Take the heart, hurry up”. The carrier replies: “Let the fillet come out”.
Group ten consists of four men are working on another ox. The text in front of the man to the right clearly describes his action as “Sharpening the knife”. Two men are cutting the animal’s foreleg, the one to the left holding it upright and says to his companion: “Finish with its foreleg, hurry up”. The man to the right appears to have done just that, and the leg appears to have been already severed. Between them, a man pushes his hand inside the animal’s body, possibly to extract the heart.
Very little remains of the last surviving group to the left, which includes part of the animal and parts of a bearer who is carrying a foreleg on his shoulder. The inscription may possibly read: “… these choice things”.
The register ends with the legs of four men, probably carrying cuts of meat and proceeding, as usual, towards the offering table.
The three upper registers
As already mentioned, the upper register is totally lost. Of the other two the lowest has maintained a large proportion of its height and its row of descriptive text. The lowest of these registers starts in the extended entry passage (see c3-ewall-11-cm) as the top one of its two registers. Like the one below it, in the passageway, it has retained no colour. From what still exists, the only full height section of any of the three registers, with colour and complete porters, exists at the right-hand end of the wall, after the area lost by the production of the later burial shaft and the entry to chamber V. This belongs to the lowest of the three registers. A small section of the register above still retains a little of its descriptive text, but the men are somewhat damaged.
At the left-hand end of the wall, all that remains is a small incomplete part of the lowest of the three registers, with no surviving text. As can be seen from the image opposite, virtually nothing remains at the north wall end even of the bottom register, other than the feet of porters.
To see what remains of the upper registers in the context of the whole wall, see the full view.
From what still exists of the upper registers, it shows that they were all somewhat crowded by processions of offering bearers carrying items of food and drink, live birds, occasionally small animals and with a few exceptions leading animals. These last animals include oxen, calves, oryxes, bubal hartebeests, Nubian ibexes, gazelles and Barbary sheep. All the men wear short, tight kilts and have short wigs covering their ears. Unlike the men in the northern section of the bottom register where the curls of the wigs are carefully executed, such details for the men in the two registers above are inconsistent, being in a varying state of incompleteness, some totally unachieved. In similar scenes, of other tombs, the procession of offering bearers is usually directed towards an offering table scene, where the tomb owner receives their gifts. None of the walls of this chamber or indeed other chambers in this chapel, has a space which could have possibly contained a figure of the tomb owner at an offering table. It is possible that such images may have been depicted on either side of the west wall recess. Alternatively, the lines of offering bearers on all the walls of chamber III may have been displayed as heading towards the enormous offering table.
The description texts:
The inscriptions above the lowest of these three registers states: “…
may offerings come forth therein at the opening of the yearly festival,
the Thot festival, the first festival of the year, the Wag-festival, at
every festival and every day, to the extent of eternity for the
treasurer of the king of Lower Egypt, the sole companion, … gifts and
all good year offerings which are brought for him from his towns…”.
• Of what remains of the register above this, the inscription has: “… the great feast, at the feast of burning and at every feast for the treasurer of the king of Lower Egypt, the sole companion, Nikauisesi”. This is located in the area where very little remains, lost by production of the later shaft.
Page 5 / 8
The doorway from chamber III opens up into chamber IV in south end of the east wall, see the mastaba plan opposite.
The entrance passageway from chamber III opens into this very
small chamber or magazine, measuring 1.15m. east-west by 1.65m.
north-south. All of the walls have been preserved to a height of about
A stone bench is constructed against the whole width of the north wall, having a depth of 0.55m and standing 0.85m high. Please forgive whoever left the black plastic bag on the far end of the bench. The top is made of one large and two smaller limestone slabs, each being 0.12m thick. This is supported at each end by two irregular stone pillars of 0.20m width, thus leaving a vacant niche beneath the bench. The top still has remnants of white gypsum, the supporting pillars were coated with a pinkish plaster and retain small patches of black paint.
DOORWAY FROM CHAMBER III
Entry to this chamber is made through the doorway located at the southern end of the west wall (see c3-wwall-02-cm),
with a stone threshold, 0.10m above the normal height of the mastaba
floor. The passageway measures 1.70m high by 0.67m wide with a length of
0.80m. In the west wall of chamber III is yet another of the small
holes, cut through the corner of the doorway to emerge on the north
thickness, located just below the height of the border bands (see the
chamber III views 01-cm and 02-cm).
From the doorway, a step down of 0.10m leads to the recess intended for an internal door (see c4-ewall-02-cm). This recess is 1.88m in height by 1.12m wide, having a depth for the actual door of 0.25m. Cut into the ceiling at the south end of the recess is a small circular socket, but not deep enough for a wooden block to hold a door pivot. Below, in the floor, is the other pivot hole, currently filled gypsum plaster.
The red and yellow borders of the entry thickness walls are positioned lower than those of chamber III (see the left-hand side of the chamber III view, where a small part of the upper red border still exists below the uncoloured north thickness scenes). This provides a taller space, just enough for the two registers, which contain the pictorial decoration of the entrance. These are again surrounded on both sides and the top with an area for a coloured border, although it shows no sign of colour. This leaves an area of 0.7m in width by 0.6m in height. The bottom register is taller than the combined height of the upper one and the separating descriptive text band.
The scenes and inscriptions of both thickness walls are identical.
Like the decoration of the walls of chamber IV, those on the door thicknesses are in shallow incised relief and of a rather poor quality and with very limited modelling. Each thickness is dominated by the figures of four men pulling a sledge holding two large oil containers, progressing into chamber IV.
The inscription above them reads:”Dragging sTi-Hb-oil and Hknw-oil”.
Eight jars are depicted in the register above these, possibly containing the traditional oils, although no names are inscribed.
THE ACTUAL CHAMBER
This very small chamber probably represents a storeroom, with the common bench for the placement of objects. This type of chamber was common in many tombs from the period. As in chamber III, the top of the stone table is below the height of the expected colour bands, the bottom limit of the wall decorative scenes. All the walls were decorated and have scenes showing offering bearers bringing objects, differing in many cases from those usually carried by the porters to offer directly to tomb owner. These items would be intended for storage, for use in the afterlife. Items included in the scenes are chests, jewellery, granaries and fruit stores. There would be no way that all of these items could fit into the small space of this chamber, thus their inclusion would have been symbolic. The quality of the decoration, like that of the entry, is in shallow incised relief and of a rather poor quality and now shows no sign of colour. Being such a small chamber, it is obviously difficult to obtain full view photographs of any of the walls.
The entrance to the chamber opens in the southern part of this wall. The decorated surface is divided into five registers, the lower two being to the left of the entrance. These together with the one above, show porters progressing away from the entry, in an anticlockwise direction, towards the figure of Nikauisesi on the west wall.
The bottom register shows four men, each carrying two long linen rolls (see c4-ewall-05-cm) and is described as: “Bringing
royal linen and offerings which the king gives for the treasurer of the
king of Lower Egypt, the sole companion, Nikauisesi”.
The second register depicts four offering bearers carrying jars. Their label, which extends above the doorway, reads: “Bringing ointment which is brought as offerings which the king gives for the treasurer of the king of Lower Egypt, the sole companion, Nikauisesi, his beautiful name, Isesy”. This is the only instance where the beautiful name of Nikauisesi is preserved in the tomb.
The third register has four, or perhaps eight, men transporting large chests with the aid of horizontal poles fixed to the bottom of the chests. Above them, the text states the names of the items contained, the beginning of which is now missing (probably “Bringing a chest of”) and also the end, which would have included the identity of the contents of the right-most chest: “… sweet ointment, a chest holding incense, a chest of…”.
The fourth register shows, on the left, some large vessels (nearly lost). In the centre are some largely portrayed items of jewellery, consisting of a strap and pendants followed by two more large vessels. At the right, the register terminates with some smaller vessels resting on a stand. The inscription above reads: “Bringing gold objects and bringing sTi-Hb-oil for the treasurer of the king of Lower Egypt, Nikauisesi”.
The top register
retains the lower remains of jars and stands. The descriptive text is totally lost.
The decorated surface is divided into five registers. The bottom three show porters, again progressing away from the entry, but this time in a clockwise direction, but again towards the figure of the deceased on the west wall.
The bottom register shows seven men carrying vases of different shapes. Above them is written: “Bringing
the best of the precious things, which are brought as offerings, which
the king gives for the treasurer of the king of Lower Egypt,
In the second register seven men carry small sacks in both hands. The contents of these are identified in the accompanying text: “Bringing incense of the offerings which the king gives for the hereditary prince, the treasurer of the king of Lower Egypt, the sole companion, Nikauisesi”.
The third register displays five men, two men carrying a chest and the other three two bowls each. The inscription above them reads: “Bringing a chest of natron for the hereditary prince, the count, the treasurer of the king of Lower Egypt, the sole companion, Nikauisesi”.
The fourth register shows three chests and some jars. The inscription above them is partly preserved: “…, a chest of natron of the best…”.
Of the top register
only the lower part is preserved, showing the bases of some vessels.
Here, the tomb owner stands on the right-hand side of the wall. This is his only appearance in this chamber and it is to he whom the porters are all walking. He wears a shoulder-length wig, a beard, a collar and a pointed kilt, he wears nothing on his feet (see c4-wwall-04-cm). He holds a sceptre in his left hand and a staff in his right. Above him are six vertical columns and one horizontal line of text which read: “[Bringing] the gold, which is brought as offerings which the king gives | for…, he who is in this chamber, the keeper of Nekhen, the lector priest, | the sole companion, the embalmer of Anubis, the… of Anubis, | the sole companion, the keeper of the head ornaments, the lector priest, | the honoured one before Osiris, lord of Abydos, | the honoured one before Anubis, lord of burial, | the treasurer of the king of Lower Egypt, the sole companion, Nikauisesi”.
The tomb owner, with the text above his head, faces five registers. The bottom three are again of offering bearers walking towards the figure of Nikauisesi. The registers above are of offerings.
The bottom register depicts six men, each carrying two long linen rolls. Above them is written: “Bringing
royal linen, which is brought as offerings which the king gives for the
treasurer of the king of Lower Egypt, Nikauisesi”.
The second register shows five men carrying long jars with curved spouts. The scene is described as: “Bringing libation-vases (?), which are brought as offerings which the king gives for Nikauisesi”.
In the third register, five men presenting jewellery are depicted with the legend: “Bringing gold objects for the treasurer of the king of Lower Egypt, Nikauisesi”.
The fourth register displays two stands with large neck-collars on top. At the left-hand side are three tall jars. The text above, of which only the beginning has survived, reads: “Bringing gold objects for…”.
The top register
has almost totally disappeared.
Like the other walls in this room, the north wall is divided into five registers, above the bench which was described above in the introduction to this chamber. Between the bottom register and the top of the bench is the space for the two colour bands and a small region of the dado, none of which now have (or perhaps never had) any of the colour.
The bottom register depicts six storehouses, which have the same shape as granaries, except that some contain other items than grain (see c4-nwall-02-ag).
The name of each item contained is written, accompanied by a variant of
the hieroglyph for corn-measure above the quantity (the hieroglyph for
100) enclosed in a granary hieroglyph . The items are (from left to right) : “iSd-fruit, |nbs-fruit, | onions, | barley, | wheat, | everything (else?) “.
The second register is reserved for wines, with two very large jars of different shapes and two others on a sledge being pulled by four men (see c4-nwall-03-ag). The inscription above reads: “Dragging wine, HAmw-wine, snw-wine and imt-wine”.
The third register shows six stylistic heaps of different fruits. Above each heap is the name of the fruit, followed by the number of stored measures (note that here the ‘corn-measure’ hieroglyph is used just for the word ‘measure’). The first three heaps again record the figure 100 written inside a granary sign, while the last three heaps contain 20 measures each, indicated by the two hieroglyphs for 10. The fruits are named (again from left to right) in the line above, each separated by the continuation of the line between each heap (only the second name is lost) : “grapes, | … |white and green sxt-fruits, | figs, | carob-beans, | nbs-fruit”.
The fourth register
depicts jars containing the traditional oils, with their names inscribed above as follows:
“sTi-Hb-oil|Hknw-oil, |sfT-oil, |nXnm-oil, |twAwt-oil, | best cedar oil, | best Libyan oil”.
The top register
, with its objects, is almost completely lost.
Page 6 / 8
This chamber, which measures 2.90m across (east-west) by 6.10m
in length, is entered from chamber I via the doorway located in the
south wall and from chamber III via one at the south end of the west
wall, see the mastaba plan opposite.
The walls of the chamber are preserved at the southern end to a height of between 2.70 and 2.80m, and at the north end to only 1.00m. The surfaces are dressed but neither smoothed and nor decorated.
In the north-west corner is the very large shaft leading to Nikauisesi’s burial chamber (this is discussed fully on page 8). Unlike the shaft in chamber III, this one is not covered by stone slabs but a large metal grill. The surrounding protective structure takes up a large portion of the space at the northern end of the chamber (see the north view). The north view also shows the current state of that end of the chamber.
DOORWAY FROM CHAMBER I
This is entered at the east end of the north wall of chamber I.
The recess for this doorway is located at the southern end, on the chamber I side. This recess measures 1.12m wide, 2.25m high and 0.20m deep. The east thickness is actually part of the east wall of chamber I, so the description of its decoration was dealt with the other part of that wall (however, see the narrow view). The other thickness was not decorated. A hole was cut into the east end of the recess ceiling for a door pivot and evidence exists in the floor for a bottom one. There are no bolt holes in the side walls.
The actual passageway measures 0.75m wide, 2.10m high and 0.80m long. The decoration on both thicknesses was left in an unfinished state, which is rather surprising, considering the limited amount of work necessary for the completion and the doorway’s close proximity to the entrance of the chapel. As this doorway leads into room V in which the mouth of the tomb owner’s shaft is located, it is possible that the decoration on the door thicknesses was deliberately left unfinished, perhaps for superstitious reasons aimed at delaying the day of death.
Currently there are no colour photographs for these two walls, only the monochrome images, seen below, are available.
On this left hand wall, the tomb owner is shown facing inwards
into chamber V and leaning on his staff. His forward leg is bent but
both feet are placed flat on the ground rather than one being raised
onto its toes. It has been suggested by Yvonne Harpur that this posture
was preferred when the figure of the deceased was included in scenes of
his journey to the west. Nikauisesi wears a collar, bracelets, a sash, a
short, projecting kilt, a panther’s skin and apparently no sandals on
The figure of Nikuisesi is all that remains on this wall, no inscriptions have survived. The figure is only partly carved and coloured, suggesting that the carving was deliberately abandoned before any other colouring proceeded.
Unlike all of the other doorway thicknesses, the poorly
preserved decoration of this side has been produced in paint only.
However, it does contain a descriptive text. The scene is divided into
two registers, but unlike that on the opposite wall, the figures here
face outwards, towards chamber I.
In the bottom register are four offering bearers carrying various food items. The first is described as “The overseer of the linen, the ka-servant, Neferwednet”, the second as “The ka-servant, Ni…ptah”, the third as “The ka-servant…” and the fourth as “Imi”.
In the upper register can be observed three men. At the front (nearest to chamber I) is a standing figure, who wears a pointed kilt and supports a box on his left shoulder. Behind him sit two other men, the first of whom appears to be manufacturing an object similar to one carried by the standing figure. The third man stretches either fabric or rope between his feet and his hands. In this register the inscriptions are too fragmentary to he read with confidence. However, the first man is “The overseer…”, the second is “The ka-servant” and the third is probably named “Sabuptah”. This last man’s name is not found elsewhere in the complex.
DOORWAY FROM CHAMBER III
The entry to this doorway is located in the east wall of chamber III, partially intruding on the deep recess defining the entry from chamber II. It is only 0.60m wide, 1.75m high with a length of 1.05m. The threshold is raised by 0.15m above the floor levels on either side (see the chamber V side view). This doorway represents an alteration to the original design of the chapel as it cuts through the decoration of the east wall of chamber III. Although the thicknesses of this doorway were not finely smoothed nor decorated with scenes and inscriptions, they did however received a painted dado and colour bands, identical to and at the same height as that on the main east wall of chamber III (see d3-5-view-01-cm and is more obvious in d3-5-view-02-cm the south wall) and not lowered like those of the entry to chamber IV. This would have provided very little space in height for any pictorial decoration and none appears to have been produced.
THE ACTUAL CHAMBER
As already mentioned, this chamber is built from stone blocks and has no decoration on its walls, thus these block can be seen individually.
In the south wall, which as can be seen to be totally unsmoothed and with no plaster coating (see c5-swall-01-cm), is a small hole, like the ones found elsewhere in this complex. It is located 10cm above the floor and 4cm from the east corner of the entry from chamber I, cutting through to the west door thickness.
In the west wall, to the right of the doorway to chamber III, at a height of 56cm. from the floor, are two more small holes, positioned 5cm. apart. These are cut at an angle to join within the same wall (see c5-wwall-01-cm). Thus, this last of the six is positioned differently to the others.
As can be seen in the image (above left), at the northern end of the chamber, both the east and west wall have survived to a much lower height than those at the southern end, with the rear wall now consisting only of the bottom two rows of blocks.
Directly north of chamber V is a serdab (see the
mastaba plan at the top of this page), with dimensions of 3.65m
east-west by 1.05m north-south. The roofing has not survived and the
upper courses of the walls are lost, but these presumably had the same
height of 3.15m as all other chambers of the mastaba. There is no direct
access to the serdab and, as the walls between the serdab and chamber V
have been restored above a height of 1.00-1.50m, no evidence survives
of any viewing slit. If one had existed it would have been placed above
this surviving height. Normally, a slit in the wall of an adjoining
chamber was provided in order to view a statue of the deceased, which
would have been placed in the serdab (see for example, the view through the slit in Ty’s mastaba, also at Saqqara, where the wall was fully decorated). A full description of Ty’s mastaba is also available on this site
The serdab is undecorated, its walls roughly smoothed with a few traces of plaster but there is no evidence that decoration was ever planned.
Page 7 / 8
DOORWAY FROM CHAMBER II
The entry to this is located at the southern end of the west wall of chamber II. It is 0.75m wide, 0.35m deep by 2.10m in height. It provides access to an internal ‘L’-shaped courtyard. The walls of the entry retain remnants of a coating of pinky-cream plaster but no evidence of any decoration. The entrance into the actual courtyard is widened by a recess of 1.10m wide by 0.70m deep with a height of 2.25m. The ceiling on the south side of the recess is damaged but retains evidence of a pivot hole; there are no bolt holes or floor pivot.
THE ACTUAL COURTYARD
The courtyard is a ‘L’-shaped structure. The southern part measuring 4.30m east-west by 2.85m north-south, with the entry from chamber II being located at the eastern end. The extension to the north (leading to a flight of steps) is at the west end and measures 1.60m wide by 2.60m long. In the south-west corner is the mouth of a shaft, but the modern paving floor of the courtyard poses difficulties in re-emptying it for measurement and documentation. The walls of the courtyard, which are undecorated and only roughly smoothed, are preserved to various heights. There is no evidence that any decoration was planned.
At the western end of the north wall of the extension is a doorway framed by a recess of 0.90m width, 1.75m height and 0.20m depth. A cavity was cut into the west end of the recess ceiling for a door pivot. Irregularly shaped bolt holes were cut into the east and west walls of the recess. Within this recess and providing access to a flight of stairs is an entry passage 0.60m wide, 1.65m high and 0.50m long. The stairs actually begin within the passage requiring the ceiling of both the entry passage and the stairwell to slope upwards at and angle of 30 degrees.
The width of the actual stairwell is 0.75m, the two lower steps are not as wide as the main ones, by being located within the entry. Eleven steps remain in situ, rising in total for a length of 2.25m. Each has a tread of 22cm and a rise of 11cm. Preserved at the top of the staircase are two limestone blocks forming a paved landing with the same width. Beyond these blocks, a distance of 2.60m to the infill at the north wall, is now quite damaged. It is quite possible that the original stairway, like others in this cemetery, continued to the roof level.
THE BURIAL SHAFTS AND CHAMBERS
As previously mentioned, in total there are three burial shafts within this complex: the main one, in chamber V, being that of Nikauisesi, the next, at the southern end of chamber III, being a much later addition, and finally, in the south-west corner of the courtyard, one of possibly an even later date.
Nikauisesi’s shaft and chamber
Alas, no photographs are available of the burial chamber or the coffin, just one of the top of the shaft.
Unlike most main burial chambers of the major mastabas in the Teti Cemetery, which were accessed from the roof, the shaft leading to the burial chamber of Nikauisesi is accessed from inside his mastaba, in chamber V. An almost identical arrangement is found, however, in the nearby recently discovered tomb of the vizier Inumin. At the bottom of the shaft, the burial chamber was cut to the west, lying directly beneath the large Htp offering platform structure in chamber III.
The large square mouth of the shaft measures 2.80m on each side, although only a width of 1.75m east-west opens into the floor. This is because the western side of the mouth extends under the west wall towards chamber III. Laid side by side at the top of the shaft, along the north-south length of its west wall, are two large limestone beams. These rest on ledges hewn into the bedrock at the western side of the north and south walls of the shaft. The two blocks, 3.50m in length by just over half a metre thick and 1.15m in height, provide the foundation on which the metre thick dividing wall between chambers V and III was built (see the line drawing for reference).
The shaft descends to a total depth of 19.60m, twisting as it
descends to orient the chamber at its base to a truer north-south
orientation. In the upper 7.3m the walls of the shaft are cleanly cut,
below that, where the rock is harder, they have a more irregular
At the base, the entire west wall opens up providing an opening 2.80m. wide with a height of 2.6m, which leads directly into a rectangular burial chamber. Just inside this entrance, a small section of the floor slopes slightly downward, presumably to facilitate the entry and placement of the massive limestone sarcophagus.
The rectangular burial chamber measures 6.10m north-south by 3.10m east-west. The height is slightly greater than the opening (2.70m) due the floor level being sloped downwards at the entrance. At the rear, slightly offset to the south, is a large recess of 3.60m north-south by 2.10m deep, the height being the same as the area in front. The wall surfaces of the chamber are roughly cut with little sign of smoothing, even chisel marks have remained on the ceiling, which in its south-west corner has flaked away. The recess area contains the sarcophagus, which, because of the uneven floor surface, has been supported at the north end by stones.
The sarcophagus is a very large limestone structure, almost completely filling the recess, a space existing at the northern end. The chest itself has the external measurements of 2.95m long by 1.80m wide with a height of 1.65m. The side wall thickness is 0.5m and those at the head and foot being 0.35m; giving an internal dimension of 2.25m by 0.80m, with a depth of 0.80m. The lid, which measures 3.3m long by 1.8m wide and 0.8m thick, is thus slightly larger than the chest itself, overlapping it at the northern end. Even though the external surfaces of the sarcophagus are extremely rough, the inner ones, and the underside of the lid, have been shaped and smoothed. There is no decoration either inside or out. In the centre of the east side of the chest, at the top, is a hole made by robbers, who left black marks from the torches they used.
Although the large main burial chamber is disturbed, it yielded both human remains and a good quantity of small finds (dealt with below).
Later shaft and its chambers
The opening of the shaft, 2.1m east-west (the full width of the
chamber) by 1.2m north-south, is located at the south end of chamber
III. From the evidence, it appears to have been produced at a much later
date, when the mastaba was completely buried. The threes walls at this
end of chamber III were used as the upper part of the shaft, cutting
through the original paved floor of Nikauisesi’s chamber, possibly with
an additional northern wall being added, although no longer existing.
The shaft is the entry to a much more complex structure than that of
Nikauisesi, as can be seen from the line drawing opposite, consisting of
two chambers at different levels. The initial shaft descends vertically
through natural rock to a depth of 4.6m below the chamber III floor
level. Centrally in the west wall, at the bottom of the shaft, is cut a
doorway, 0.95m wide by 1.6m high with a depth of 0.55m. This leads into a
roughly cut rectangular chamber, the floor of which is 0.15m lower than
that of the entry. This chamber is approximately 3.65m east-west by
4.35m north-south with an internal height of 1.75m.
In the floor, on the same axis as the entry, is a flight of 0.9m wide nine steps. These lead the a lower chamber, the entry of which faces the flight of stairs, after an small section of floor. This entry is the same width as the stairs, with a height of just less than a metre. The final chamber is “T”-shaped, the wider section being at the rear (west), everything being on the same central axis as the stairs. The floor of the chamber is 0.45m below the entry, a large step down. The first smaller section measures 1.35m east-west by 1.60m north-south with a height of 1.7m. In the south wall is a small niche, 0.10m above the floor. This is 0.65m wide by 0.65m high with a depth of 0.55m. Above this is cut another much smaller one. The rear part of the chamber measures 1.55m east-west by 3.45m north-south with the same height as the previous section. Two very small niches are cut into either end of the west wall, at floor level.
Nothing is known of the occupant of this later burial, because the chamber had no decoration and no sarcophagus.
The courtyard shaft
The mouth of the shaft in the south-west corner of the courtyard now lies under new floor paving surrounded by the old and so far it has not been possible to clear it again in order to gain more information.
HUMAN REMAINS, OBJECTS AND WALL FRAGMENTS FOUND
Many things were found within the complex especially in the main shaft and burial chamber. Full details, which are many, are available in the ACE publication, details for which are given on page 1.
Together with the many objects found in the burial chamber of
Nikuaisesi were the skeletal remains of the tomb owner himself. These
were still in his stone sarcophagus. Although the sarcophagus was broken
into through a hole in its eastern side, the robbers must have been in a
great hurry, because the hole is too small for even a small person to
enter, thus, some beads and gold items were either overlooked or outside
the reach of the robbers. Because of this it is further proof that the
human remains are those of Nikauisesi, because it would have been
impossible to introduce a later body.
Among the skeletal remains were: the lower jaw (top right) showing partial defective dentition and the first lumbar vertebra (bottom right). All the skeletal remains were subjected to two thorough independent examinations. The conclusion in both cases was that his age, at death, was between 35-45 years.
A full summary of the results of the examinations can be found in the ACE publication. A brief summary provides the following: the skull was recovered; the skeletal remains of the trunk consists of all vertebrae (except one cervical and two thoracic), sacrum and ribs; the skeleton of the upper limbs is in complete; the skeleton of the lower limbs is fairly complete and well preserved. No traces of artificial mummification materials were found on the skeleton. The first lumbar vertebra has been broken by a compressive fracture, probably due to osteoporosis. His probable osteoporosis points to existence of some long-lasting chronic disease prior to his death. During his life he walked often but did not engage in any strenuous physical activity.
A great number of terracotta pots together with model jars of
limestone and calcite, were found in the burial chamber, in total about
40. Once again, a full detailed list of these is given in the ACE
publication. Among these are the following three:
A large jar (upper left) with rounded body tapering slightly to a rounded base, short, concave neck and rounded rim. This is the largest of the objects, measuring 38.0cm in height, 32.5cm in width with a 10.5cm diameter rim. Placed slightly above the maximum width were incised six lines around the outer body of the vessel.
A flat-based basin with a wider rim than the base, made from red Nile silt coated on both the exterior and interior with a red slip, speckled in black. It measures 15.5cm in height, has a 32.0cm diameter rim of 1.5cm thick, and a 19.5cm diameter base.
A roughly formed jar with a short, straight neck, open mouth, high shoulders. The sides taper to almost a pointed base. The rim is partially broken. It has a height of 32.0cm, 19.5cm diameter at its widest part, with a 10.5cm top opening.
In total, 26 wall fragments
were found by the 1998 team, plus one found by the original excavation
in 1979. All of the fragments and the objects (described above) were
given an identification number by the expedition, this was prefixed
“TNE98”, the wall fragments were numbered F1 to F27. The one found in
1979, was given the number F4, to fit in with those of the later
F1-F10: (see line drawing and c3-wwall-08-nk) All these fragments show parts of a kheker frieze and as such they must belong to the upper part of walls. The short, but complete text on fragments 1-3 suggests that they belong to a narrow wall. This suggests that they probably belonged on the sides of the recess of the west wall of chamber III rather than with the long walls of the chamber itself. Where preserved, the kheker frieze was placed above a banded frieze, below which is a line of hieroglyphic text and finally stacks of food. The text on fragments 1-3 reads: “An offering which the king gives and an offering which Osiris gives to the hereditary prince, the count, the sole companion, Nikauisesi. It is possible that fragment 4 belongs to the opposite wall and has the inscription: “… the sole companion, Nikauisesi”.
F11-F16: (see line drawing) These depict parts of piles of food and possibly belong to the upper register below fragments F1-F10.
F17-F21: (see line drawing) These all show offering bearers carrying food items and leading small animals. All the figures face left and thus probably originated from the east or north walls of chamber III.
F22-F25: (see line drawing) As with the previous fragments, the scenes are of offering bearers carrying food items and leading small animals. This time all figures face to the right and possibly originated from the south or west walls of chamber III.
F26: (see line drawing) As previously mentioned, this fragment is now fixed in the upper part of the east wall of chamber II, but its position here or even in this tomb is questionable. The text is part of four vertical columns of hieroglyphs which translate as (from left to right) : “… the overseer of the two workshops… | … the embalmer of Anubis, the… of Anubis… | … Osiris, lord of Busiris | Anubis, who is on his hill, lord of the sacred land…”.
F27: (see line drawing) This is a large fragment from an obelisk, which was found in the bottom of the main shaft. It has been restored (see restored image), using the slope angle preserved on each surface. The inscription, which is only on one face, reads: “The hereditary prince, the count, the treasurer of the king of Lower Egypt, the sole companion, Nikauisesi.
The mastaba tomb of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep is located in the northern area of Saqqara, the great necropolis of Memphis, the Old Kingdom capital. It had been buried under the 700 metre causeway – which joins the mortuary temple and pyramid of the pharaoh Unas (last king of Dynasty V) to the valley temple, it lay undiscovered until 1964. The causeway had to be partially destroyed in order to uncover the mastaba section of the tomb complex (the rear portion of which is excavated into the bedrock). Its discovery lead to what is probably one of the most beautiful tombs in the whole area. Being situated close to the step pyramid of Djoser and that of Unas, it forms part of the group monuments on the site most often visited by tourists. It is sometimes known as “the tomb of the two brothers”. Due to being located under the causeway of Unas, it must precede the reign of this pharaoh. Therefore, an approximate date for the mastaba is towards the end of the reign of Niuserre (c. 2460-2430) or at the latest, that of his immediate successor, Menkauhor (c. 2430-2420).
NIANKHKHNUM AND KHNUMHOTEP
This tomb is unusual because it consists of a dual chapel complex, dedicated equally to two deceased persons. One was called Niankhkhnum – “life belongs to Khnum” and the other Khnumhotep – “Khnum is satisfied” – two anthroponyms based on the ram-headed god of Elephantine (Aswan).
The association of these two men in the same tomb can be explained by their close relationship: they were brothers. One suggestion is that they were twins, but there is no actual evidence for this. A more recent suggestion is that were conjoined twins. Others have speculated that there was a homosexual relationship, though this hardly seems likely given that their wives and children are depicted regularly in the tomb.
A good article, covering all of the above-In my humble opinion: these were just two very close brothers, who shared the same lifestyle working for the king; who collectively paid for the construction of a joint tomb (in phases) so that they could be together in the afterlife.
Throughout the tomb a regular emphasis is given to Niankhkhnum in the programme of decoration which could signify that he was the elder of the two, also the fact that on the rear wall of the second vestibule (at the south of the courtyard) Niankhkhnum has a much older “eldest” son than Khnumhotep.
Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep were “prophets of Ra” in the sun
temple of Neussere, the 6th king of Dynasty V, located at Abu Gurab and
also “wab priests” of the pyramid located there and called “The
foundations of Niuserre are stable”. However, they were both best known
as “supervisors of the manicurists in the royal palace”.
Their titles are encountered several times throughout the complex, in one form or another. In total these amount to:
Supervisor of the manicurists of the palace
Priest of Re in the sun temple of Niuserre
Wab-priest of the mortuary temple of Niuserre
Wab-priest of the king
Confidant of the king
The one honoured by the great god
The one whom his lord loves every day
THE FAMILIES OF NIANKHKHNUM AND KHNUMHOTEP
Several walls within the chapel complex show the two deceased with family members, but usually with only one of them, as is the case of the walls of the second vestibule. However larger family groups appear on two specific walls: The south wall of the first vestibule
(where part of the immediate family of each deceased are shown hunting and fishing)
the east wall of the first chamber
(with their parents and siblings)
and the south section of the west wall of the antechamber (with all of their children)
The father and mother of the two deceased can be identified with reasonable certainty
(although they are not actually specified as such)
from the east wall of the first chamber.
They are Khabaw-khufu “xa-bAw-xwfw” (their father)
and Rewed-zawes “rwD-zAw.s” (their mother).
In total, the two deceased appear to have had six siblings
three brothers :
Titi “tjtj”, Nefernisewet “nfr-njswt”, and Kahersetef “kA (.j) -Hr-st.f”
and three sisters :
Neferhotep-hewetherew “nfr-Htp-Hwt-Hrw”, Mehewet “mHwt” and Ptah-heseten “Hztn-ptH.”
The family of Niankhkhnum consisted of :
his wife : Khentikawes “xntj-kAw.s”
three sons : Hem-re “Hm-ra”, Qed-unas “qd n.s”
and Khnumhezewef “Xnmw-hzw.f”
three daughters :
Hemet-re “Hmt-ra “, Khewiten-re “xwjtn-ra” and Nebet? “nbt”
and one grandson :
(son of Hem-re and his wife, Tjeset “Tzt).”
In the case of Khnumhotep, his family consisted of :
his wife : Khenut “xnwt)”
five sons :
Ptahshepses “Spss-ptH”, Ptahneferkhu “nfr-xw -ptH”, Kaizebi “kA (.j) -zbj, “
Khnumheswef “xnmw-Hzw.f” and Niankhkhnum -the younger “nj-anx-xnmw nDs”
and a daughter :
The last son of Khnumhotep was probably named after his uncle.
The mastaba tomb is one of the largest in the Saqqara necropolis and appears to have been enlarged and changed during its construction, possibly in three phases.
The initial complex (phase 1) possibly consisted of only the northern half of the now long antechamber, cut into the natural limestone rock. This was then extended southwards (phase 2) to twice this length and probably included the addition of the offering chamber. The remainder (which includes the second vestibule which leads to the original antechamber) was added by building forwards using the common stonework mastaba construction (phase 3), with sloping sides to increase stability.
The floor level of the original rock-cut section of the complex is approximately 0.80m above that of the addition mastaba-built section, with the floor level of the second vestibule being the same as the original section and having a small flight of steps leading up to it.
This addition included, commencing from the new pillared entrance and vestibule, two new chambers (only one of which is decorated), an open courtyard (also undecorated) and finally the second vestibule, which leads to the rock hewn antechamber. The height of the first vestibule and following two chambers is restricted only by the roofing blocks of the mastaba. Thus, with a height of just less than 4 metres, these all appear extremely tall and narrow. These areas are connected by short decorated corridors (with the exception of the one between the first and second chambers), the height of which is not much greater than their doorways, about 2 metres.
Throughout, the decoration is shared by the two deceased. Slight emphasis is given to Niankhkhnum over his brother Khnumhotep, such as priority position on walls.
All of areas were accessible to the living, for performing the cult worship, with the exception of the burial chambers, the main entrance to which is located in the floor of the second vestibule.
Much of the original colours have survived, although damage can be found throughout the complex. Some of the original stonework, belonging to the mastaba, was found to have been used in the construction of the causeway to the pyramid complex of Unas.
Throughout, the decorated walls are edged at the bottom with a coloured stripe below which is an undecorated dado (averaging 1 metre in height) of courser stone. Originally, the sides and top of all the decorated walls were edged with a coloured ladder design and at the very top a geometric design; most of these have disappeared, although they do still exist in places.
At the eastern end of the north facing front of the mastaba (about 14 metres long and 4 metres in height) is a pillared portico which gives entry to the interior. The names and titles of the tomb owners are symmetrically inscribed on the architrave and the outwards facing sides of the two pillars, Niankhkhnum on the right and Khnumhotep on the left, the titles being the same, only the names differ.
The architrave contains two horizontal inscriptions, both starting from the middle and reading either left or right. The right-hand side reads : “Supervisor of the manicurists of the palace, the King’s administrator, Niankhkhnum”.
The right-hand pillar reads : “Confidant of the king working as a manicurist, overseer of the manicurists of the royal palace, the King’s administrator, Niankhkhnum” – The quality, even after several thousand years, is still remarkable, – taken from the left-hand pillar.
THE FIRST VESTIBULE
With a height of approximately four metres and being only 1.80m in depth and 3.45m in width, this area provides very little manoeuvrability and must have posed several problems during its decoration. This would also apply to the first chamber which isn’t much larger but still has the same height.
East and west walls
Having passed through the two pillars, into this vestibule, the side walls show a matching pair of scenes from the funeral ceremonies of the two brothers, Niankhkhnum on the west (right) wall and Khnumhotep on the east wall. The east wall is almost complete, but the west wall has several missing blocks at the top right-hand side. The top register is the most affected. The east wall is almost devoid of its original colour.
The walls are divided into five registers of uneven height, showing the funerary barque transporting a cult statue of the appropriate deceased.
The sequence starts in the bottom register, with the shrine containing a statue of the deceased being transported in a reed boat towed by two others. An unusual feature is the fact that it is also towed from the bank by a group of 9 men on the east wall and 13 men on the west wall, displayed on an upper sub-register The next register again shows a funerary boat taking the statue shrine on the “journey to Sais” – At either end of the register are structures possibly representing Sais -The narrow middle register shows a scene of animal butchery, involving, on the east wall three oxen and an antelope, whilst on the west wall there are only three oxen.
The penultimate register shows the shrine being dragged during its final stage by both a team of nine priests and two cattle. A female mourner walks in front of the procession, one also brings up the rear, behind the shrine. In a sub-register above the men and cattle are displayed several offerings of breads, fruits and meats. In yet another sub-register above the offerings are several ‘doors of appearance’ for the appropriate deceased. The centre two are the most elaborate, but these are missing from the west wall on one of the missing blocks – The register at the very top of the wall contains the presentation of offerings before the deceased, who stands in the opened statue shrine. On the west wall the uppermost left block, at the end of the image, is lost today so that the representation of the deceased remains fragmentary.
On both walls, the action progresses towards the south wall.
Before the modern security gates were added, this wall was readily visible from outside the tomb. The wall is divided into two major areas, the scenes above the passageway to the interior and two matching scenes either side of the passage.
The offering tables.
Above the entrance to the passage is a double scene of the two deceased seated in front of their own offering table, separated by three sub-registers. Its decoration is of particular importance because it constitutes a sort of synthesis of the whole scene. Each of the two brothers are seated at opposite ends of the wall, Niankhkhnum on the right and Khnumhotep on the left, facing each other. The two top sub-registers are filled with offerings of food and drink. The lowest has two groups of servants or butchers carving up the sacrificial animals and presenting the joints to the respective deceased.
The offering formula.
Below this scene are three inscribed rows of text; the top two read from left to right. The bottom row is symmetrically inscribed starting from the centre, containing the name and titles of Niankhkhnum on the right and Khnumhotep on the left. At either end is a standing figure of the deceased.
The text above was meant to be recited regularly by the funerary priest, by a member of the family or even by a passer-by; it supplies a list of feast days when the funerary cult should be performed. According to the conventional ritual, it is the reigning pharaoh who is supposed to intercede with the god (most frequently Osiris or Anubis), to grant to the deceased everything that a “happy soul” could desire in the other world; the royal authority is the obligatory intermediary between the individual and the deity.
The text reads : “An offering which the king gives to Anubis, who is in his mummy wrappings, who presides over the necropolis, that he may grant a tomb in the western necropolis, a very good old age, as two lords honoured by the great god (Osiris). An invocatory offering of bread, beer, meat and fowl; at the Festival of Thoth – the Wag-Festival – at the beginning of the year, the Sokar Festival, the Great Festival, the Flame Festival, the Festival of Preparing the Flame, the Festival of the Procession of Min, the Festival of the Month of Sadj, the Festival of the Month, the Festival of the Half-month and on all the festivals and on every day of every season of the year.
For the overseer of the manicurists of the palace, the confidant of the king and privy councillor, honoured by the great god, Khnumhotep; and for the overseer of the manicurists of the palace, the confidant of the king and privy councillor, honoured by the great god, Niankhkhnum”
The scene of hunting and fishing in the marshes.
Either side of the passage to the interior is a traditional motif found in Egyptian tombs. It is the first scene of hunting and fishing in the marshes in the chapel of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep and is one of the best preserved from Dynasty V. As before, Khnumhotep is on the left and Niankhkhnum is on the right, each portrayed on an heroic scale, on a small papyrus boat. Khnumhotep is spearing two fish (tilapia nilotica, L.) with his double harpoon, whilst Niankhkhnum brings down flying birds with his throwing stick. Between them, either side of the passageway, is depicted the full richness and artistry of the marshes in which are shown a great many fish and birds, of various species.
Accompanying Khnumhotep in the small boat are his wife Khenut, his son Ptahshepses and his daughter Rewedjkawes. On the right-hand side, Niankhkhnum is accompanied by his wife Khentikawes, his son Hem-re and his daughter Hemet-re.
PASSAGE TO THE FIRST CHAMBER
Here again, the right hand (west) wall is devoted to Niankhkhnum and the left (east) wall to Khnumhotep . Both walls contain five registers, the uppermost being shortened due to intrusion of the broad red rounded beam crossing above the actual doorway. Although the general content of both walls is the same, they do vary from each other. On both walls, the texts for each scene spells out the action, for example: “Escorting the statues in a perfect way in peace, in peace to the great god”.
On the west wall, the top register contains images of offerings. Registers two, three and four show the transportation of Niankhkhnum’s statues on sledges, pulled by a team of men. The uppermost of these three contains two seated statues – the next two have a single standing statue. On the lowest register eight men tussle with a sacrificial bull .
On the east wall, the top register again contains images of offerings. Registers two and three show the transportation of the statues of Khnumhotep on sledges, again pulled by a team of men. This time, the uppermost only has a single standing statue and the register below has two, both contained within a structure painted with vertical black stripes. Register four is different on this wall and shows the transportation of boxes – the accompanying texts states : “Pulling the transportation boxes with the invocatory offerings (the ‘prt-xrw’) for the Thoth-festival.”. On the lowest register only four men tussle with a sacrificial bull, which is less than the number involved on the west wall, and shows the greater emphasis given to Niankhkhnum.
Over the entrance to the first chamber is a rounded red painted beam, representing a rolled up mat. This contains the inscribed names and titles of the two deceased, produced in sunken hieroglyphs in two horizontal lines which start from the right-hand side.
At the top : “Overseer of the manicurists of the palace, the confidant of the king, acquaintance of the King, Niankhkhnum.
Below : “Overseer of the manicurists of the palace, the confidant of the king, acquaintance of the King, Khnumhotep.”
THE ENTRANCE OF THE FIRST CHAMBER
The passage broadens before entering the first chamber (height:
3m, width: 1.2m) in order to accept a door, providing two walls for
decoration. However, only the west (right) wall contains any images, the
east wall being the one on to which the door opens inwards.
The west wall is covered with a coherent group of scenes of baking and brewing, spread over six registers, all of the same height, to be read from the top to the bottom. At the right-hand side of the bottom register is the bolt hole for closure of the door.
The top register shows the rarely portrayed scene at the granary, in which the barley required for the scenes below is carefully measured out, precisely 58 hequat-measures. A prime example of Egyptian bureaucracy, the quantity of cereal removed is announced orally, noted by a scribe and then officially endorsed by the overseer of the warehouse.
Registers two to four are devoted to the making of two types of bread, one for consumption and one for brewing beer.
On the right of register two, the barley is crushed by two men using long pestles, after which the corn is separated from the chaff. This is then ground and sieved by the women of the left-hand side. The woman on the right, who is sieving the flour, jokingly chides her companion, who is grinding it : “Hurry up now, white one, so that I can sieve the flour!”. She then replies : “I’m doing so, as you wish”, whilst she is held from behind by her son
In register three a young woman is warming up the individual cone shaped moulds over a fire, ready for the dough and baking of the bread; at the same time she suckles a baby – In front of her, to the right, men carry out the baking. The moulds are checked and the dough is inserted into them. A small sub-register, top right, shows the risen bread which is checked and dusted. This must be the bread also used for the beer making in register five, because in order to rise it must have contained a yeast, bread for consumption was normally unleavened (no yeast), as produced in register four.
Register four shows the baking of the consumable bread. On the left the dough is mixed in a large vessel, to then be rolled out as shown in the middle of the scene. Finally the bread is baked in oblong oval forms on the fire.
The fifth register portrays in a rather strange way of brewing beer, based on the fermentation of barley bread and date liquor. On the left a man crushes the dates required for the brew by treading them in a large vat. The actual mixing for fermentation is carried out at the right of the register. In the middle, the fermented beer is poured into large vessels.
In the lowermost register of the wall, which shortened by the bolt hole, is represented the taking stock of the baked bread and the brewed beer. The scribe on the right keeping tally as others bring in the finished products. Again the bureaucracy seen in the top register reappears.
THE FIRST CHAMBER
This fully decorated chamber, accessed through the entrance doorway in its north wall, has two further passage/doorways. The passage at the east end of the south wall leads to and undecorated chamber the function of which was possibly that of a store-room. A doorway is located in the west wall (south end) leading to a passageway to an internal courtyard. The chamber is approximately 1.8m north-south and 3.6m east-west, with a height of just under 4 metres.
With the exception of the metre high dado at the bottom, the walls are decorated to their full height, with the top being delimited by a ladder frieze (often called an Egyptian frieze) of coloured rectangles separated and edged with dark lines. Originally this coloured band also bordered the ends of the walls, these vertical bands have almost completely vanished, though sections of the top borders still exist. Above the top band is a geometrical frieze of the isosceles triangles and vertical lines, possibly a stylised representation of lotus blossoms. Originally all of the register scenes were painted on a blue-grey background, which has now nearly all disappeared but is still retained on a few of the stone blocks.
The entrance doorway divides this wall of the first chamber into three sets of registers. The first runs along the top of the wall, above the height of the entrance from the pillared portico. The others are located either side of this entrance, The right (east) side being approximately twice the width of the left side.
The upper register set again shows the two brothers at its extremities, each accompanied by his eldest son; on the left (west) Niankhkhnum – and on the right (east) Khnumhotep. The two of them oversee the activities which take place in the area between them. This area is divided into four registers – The uppermost register contains images from the life of the goatherd (on the right) as well as images of the felling of the trees (on the left). The second register shows the wood being carried to the area of boat construction, which is shown in detail from the centre of the register to the right-hand side, with the fabrication and fitting together of the different sections by carpenters. The two lower registers contain horticulture scenes; with, on the third register, the grape harvest (right) and the fig harvest (left). These scenes are almost totally separated by the heightened central portion of the image of the fourth register, which shows the harvest of lotus blossoms in a papyrus thicket, where the disturbed birds are in flight – Right and left from this image are portrayed the cultivation of vegetables and lilies in the garden.
The lower west (left) register set is divided into three very unequal registers. The upper one shows representations of the catching of songbirds – in the middle narrower register the birds are placed in boxes. The lowest register shows a sailing vessel on its way to the “beautiful west”. The scenes of the catching of songbirds could be connected indirectly with the horticulture scenes of the upper register set (bottom register, centre). To the left of the netting of the birds, on three sub-registers, the men of the upper two make a noise in order to drive the birds into the triangular net, whilst the man seated in the lowest plucks the feathers off one of the previously caught birds – The representation of the sailing to the “beautiful west”, which stands directly over the dado area of this section of the north wall, could be the related to the similar images of sailing ships, which occupy the lower image field of the east side of this north wall, also placed over the dado area.
The lower east (right) register set is comprised of five registers, the top four of which are of roughly the same height, although the uppermost is actually of a smaller height. The lowest (fifth) register is approximately the height of two of the those above and like the lowest register to the left of the doorway contains a scene of sailing to the “beautiful west”.
The top four registers contain some particularly original scenes, all taking place in the market place.
The top register shows scenes which the two deceased would have known well, with manicurists, pedicurists and barbers all pursuing their crafts, which are presumably not carried out in the house, but in the open market. In the left half of the scene, customers not only have their hair cut, but also their heads and chins are shaved and even hair is being removed from their legs. The right-hand side shows pedicure and manicure. One unusual occurrence is the man who sits cross-legged having a manicure. He is portrayed with his body facing forwards (full on to the observer), although his head faces the manicurist; while at his other side a scribe patiently awaits his turn.
The following three registers (registers two to four) all show tradesmen bartering their goods and all contain the conversations between those participating in the action. These scenes are fairly rare in Old Kingdom tombs.
Register two contains, at its centre, two scenes with traders of fish and sycamore fruits, but, at either end are two unusual scenes. On the left a market trader sells vegetables, but a baboon which held on a leash by a youth helps itself to some onions. The angry greengrocer turns to the baboon handler and says : “Hey youth, you who plays at being an overseer, do you want me to get my boss?”. At the far right end of the register is another person with a monkey (not a baboon, perhaps a meerkat), he is described as a security guard. These guards are often found with two monkeys (in the same way that police today use dogs), so perhaps the youth at the far end of the register is his assistant. The guard has set his monkey at a thief, shouting to the monkey : “Seize him! Seize him!”.
The next register, shows four scenes of barter of various kinds, including a copper ingot in exchange for finished copper goods. The accompanying text provides a comparison of values. The merchant with finished copper vessels states : “Here is the equivalent of your ingot!”.
In the last of the three registers note the following: The cup trader on the left is female and says to her customer : “Behold, something from which you can drink.”. The second customer from the left is heavily laden with goods (he even carries some goods on his head), whilst at far right a seated cloth merchant says to his two customers : “Two cubits of cloth in exchange for 6 units” (possibly of copper).
The lowest (fifth) register shows two ships in full sail which correspond to the sailing ship in the lowermost register of the west section of the north wall, similar in construction and rigging. The ships of this section of wall have extra crew, a group of six at the rear. Again they sail towards the “beautiful west”.
The image field of this wall contains six registers, each one being of a different height. Of the 4 metre high wall, the bottom metre is the undecorated dado. The topics of the registers are predominantly devoted to the funerary service by the funerary priests and the members of the family of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep, but the bottom register contains another journey by ship.
The top register contains a large text field in twelve vertical columns. At right-hand side, the two tomb owners are actually shown seated side by side, although depicted with Niankhkhnum in front and Khnumhotep behind. They face the large text of a legal nature, which covers the contractual arrangements for the funerary foundation :
“The two supervisors of the manicurists of the palace, honoured by the great god, Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep; they say:
‘Concerning these brothers and the funerary priests, who act for us, regarding our offerings in the necropolis : we do not permit them to have control over the children of our two wives nor any human being. They alone shall make the invocatory offerings for us as well as for our fathers and mothers and for those who will be in the necropolis.
Concerning any funerary priest who, for payment, hands over his his duties to any other person : everything that has been given to him shall be taken away from him and given to the other funerary priests in his phyle.
Concerning any funerary priest who contracts for other work : everything that has been given to him shall be taken away from him and given to the other funerary priests in his phyle.
Concerning any funerary priest who should litigates against his funerary priest colleague, by raising an accusation relating to his lack of support, in that he proposes taking the accused’s dues from the offerings of the two deceased : his share shall be taken from him and given to this funerary priest, against whom he has litigated.
We have done this for your benefit, so that these offerings shall be good for the two men for whom they are intended, those who will be in the necropolis.’ “
The middle four register (two to five)
contain rows of various people, in each case a total of ten.
Registers two and three both contain porters carrying various goods towards the right-hand side. Both registers contain ten porters, identified only by their clothing as funerary priests. Only two of the priests are identified, the small size of the hieroglyphs would indicate that was a later addition. The descriptive text for the two registers is placed at the beginning of the second of the two rows: “Bringing of the exquisite”.
shows an unusual parade of the relatives of the two deceased, organised (from right to left) as a couple (probably man and wife), two men, three women and finally three more men. All are portrayed on a larger scale than people in the other three registers of this group. The final two men, on the left holding hands, are definitely identified in the text as Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep. None of the others are specified by any form of family relationship. But, assuming the leading couple are the deceased’s parents, then those between may be regarded as siblings. Their offspring would normally be portrayed at a smaller scale than themselves.
shows another parade of people, who might possibly belong to the households of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep. With the exception of the woman, who is portrayed at the extreme right leading the group, only men are represented. All are accompanied by their names and titles, which range from “judge and sub-overseer of the police” to “scribe of the treasury”. Only two of them hold the title of “funerary priest”. The woman, who holds the title “king’s administrator”, is named Tjeset.
The sixth (bottom) register
is another journey by two ships. Journeys to the north in ships are usually shown powered by oarsmen, since they to travel against the wind which comes from north. This northward destination is usually shown in the east wall images. In difference to the remaining scenes of this wall, which progress from left to right in direction, the ships are represented in reverse and consequently organised directly northward.
The ships are of two different types, they also differ from the sailing ships of the westward journey. The first (left) ship is a equipped with a triple-divided cabin with the head of a hedgehog carved on its prow; the second (rear) ship is a vessel with a singly divided cabin and which imitates the form of a papyrus boat. In both cases one of the deceased stands in front of the cabin receiving a report from an official. There is no indication as to who is in which ship. The pilots at the bow of both ships hold their long pole (for checking the depth) out of the water, since the ship is apparently in safe waters.
The text over the first ship gives the purpose as : “Journeying to the beautiful places in the midst of the blessed.”. The pilot of the second ship shouts to his helmsmen “Hold to starboard! Don’t hit the other ship!”.
This wall of the first chamber has at its east end the passageway to the second chamber (storeroom). The passageway is about 2 metres in height but only about 0.6m wide. The wall is decorated with two sets of registers, the first runs along the top of the wall, above the height of the passage to the storeroom. The lintel of the passageway was originally decorated, but only traces now exist, showing a young cow and a young antelope both lying on the ground.
The upper register set has at its two outer edges the standing figures of the deceased: Niankhkhnum on the right (west) and on the left Khnumhotep. They are accompanied by their respective eldest sons. Between them the area is divided into four registers of very unequal heights, representing various scenes of bird hunting and fishing.
To the right the image of Niankhkhnum is separated from the central area by a vertical band of hieroglyphs : “Considering the marshland, the swamp-thicket and the swamp-waters, catching fish and capturing birds. More beautiful than all things.”. Above his head in seven columns is his name and his titles, which have been encountered previously. Before him, at a much smaller scale, stands his eldest son Hem-re.
Likewise, on the left, the image of Khnumhotep is separated from the central area by a vertical band of hieroglyphs, of almost identical text. Before Khnumhotep stands his eldest son Schepsesptah, again at a smaller scale; whilst above him is his name and his titles.
The first register shows at its centre the capture of birds using a hexagonal net, from within an area bounded by papyrus on the left and by reeds on the right. The net is closed abruptly by four men at the command of an observer. At both ends of the register two supervisors present such captured birds to the respective deceased.
The second register shows at its centre the rather unique scene of the mending of nets and the manufacture of new ones. The accompanying text definitely specifies them as being nets for the capture of birds, the men doing the work are bird catchers. Again, at both ends of the register, two supervisors present captured birds to the respective deceased.
Registers three and four have a greater height that the previous pair, due to part of the display being designed to represent two different areas: the watery regions and the shore. These are scenes of the capture of fish, by various methods.
Register three mainly shows the capture using a large drag-net handled by a great many fishermen on the shore, divided into two groups (each with a supervisor), at either end of the large net. The net holds a great many fish, from which 18 different species can be identified. At each end of the shore two supervisors present fish from the catch to the two deceased. At the two ends of the lower level (in the creak) fishermen catch fish with a fishing rod, each fisherman seated in a small boat.
The fourth register has the area divided into a water region bounded by two shore-lines The fishermen on the upper shore use a variety of fishing techniques, using different sizes of nets and also fishing baskets. Again a great variety of fish can be seen. On the lower shore men are shown gutting and splitting the catch for drying. A large mound of fish can be seen on the upper shore, on the left, around which birds scavenge for a meal.
The lower register set has at its left-hand side the figures of the two deceased standing side by side Niankhkhnum in front and Khnumhotep behind, again accompanied by their respective eldest sons. The area to the right is divided into four registers of fairly equal heights (the lowest being larger) and includes scenes of the making of date wine. A vertical text band separates the deceased pair from the set of registers and describes the scenes : “Viewing the gifts which are brought up from all its villages, and the piling up of the sweet things at the pr-dSr.”. [The pr-dSr or “red-house” functioned as the state treasury, and the produce received was used to pay officials, craftsmen and retainers].
The first register shows the presentation of various fruits destined for the pr-dSr. They are given the two deceased by three men at the left of the register dressed in the vestment of funerary priests. Behind the priests can be seen the fullness of the offerings, which are either piled up to great piles, or are in the the large vessels located at the right-hand side. All of the piles and vessels are named above with their content and include: grapes, raisins, juniper berries and figs.
The second register displays the production of wine from figs. Its sequence is difficult to follow because the start of the process is in the centre of the register, but at the left a scribe reads to the deceased from a papyrus scroll. At the centre, a man fills a basket from a pile of figs. These are then carried by another to two men measuring the required quantity into a wine press. The action then moves to the right of the mound of figs. Two supervised men, standing back to back fill wine vessels from a small jug. These are then sealed by the final person of the register.
The third register has several individual scenes, which display the bringing of wild game from the edge of the desert – antelopes and gazelles – to the two deceased. The representations differ from the more traditional views of wild game, as these (with the exception of the first – on the left) are almost exclusively small and not full-grown wild animals. They are presented in boxes, even on the back of a mule, and which are not apparently for offering purposes but are maybe presented to the two deceased for domestication. The two porters at the right side of the register carry the young animals in boxes from yolks, the last man also carrying an animal skin, possibly filled with milk. The antelope at the left-hand side could be there to supply milk to the young animals.
The fourth (bottom) register, like the two previous wall, contains a boating scene. However, this time only four small vessels are present, and instead of providing conveyance for a journey for the two deceased, they bring goods for them. Each boat is propelled by one oarsman at the rear and a “goods manager” standing at the front holding aloft a sample of the goods in a bowl. The cargo is carried in a rectangular container in the middle of each boat. That last boat seems to be assisted on its journey by a man standing in the water.
This wall has, at its left-hand side, the entrance doorway (just over 2 metres in height and just less than 1m wide) for the passage to the open courtyard. The total display area of the wall (remembering that there is a metre high dado at its bottom) is subdivided into 10 registers and contains no large images of the two deceased. The top six registers extend across the whole width of the wall – above the height of the doorway. The door is designed to open inwards into the chamber. The final four registers take up the remaoning width of the wall, to the right of the doorway – The coloured ladder design and the geometric design above it has survived in a reasonable condition
The first two registers show the transportation of oil in six boats, whilst the register below them contains a list of the 39 oils, in individual vertical columns. The boats have a variety of designs for their bows and in some cases also for the stern. All the boats progress to the right (north).
The next three registers – three to five – show images of the hunting of wild animals at the edge of the desert. The three registers are bounded on either side by a single fence, extending across all three. Within the three registers a total of 16 different types of animal are shown, ranging from antelopes and gazelles to small creatures like the hare and hedgehogs. The images of the hunt have retained a large part of their original colours. The image background, as always, is blue-grey, the desert floor is painted red-brown. The colour of the various plants ranges from light to dark green. The animals of the desert show different colourings.
In the register immediately over the doorway – is represented the harvesting of various fruits. This does not take place in the usual cultivated garden but in an open landscape. The left-hand half of the register contains the harvesting of fruits from three different types of tree. These are, from left to right: figs, juniper berries and Snj-fruit (unknown). A young boy has climbed into the fig tree to pick the fruit. The right-hand side shows the harvesting of grapes from a large vine and starts the wine making process, which continues down the wall, to the right of the doorway.
The four registers – seven to ten – to the right of the doorway, show wine making and is essentially a continuation of the grape harvest in the register which extends over the doorway. The first shows the treading of the grapes by five men, who support themselves a long pole above their heads. The next shows the squeezing of the juice from the grapes, employing no less than eight men (three on the left, four on the right and one forcing the two poles apart). The last two registers, which are actually in the wrong order, show the filling and sealing of the wine jars; the uppermost has the jars being closed and sealed by three men, whilst the bottom register has the jars being filled by two men. A rack with five jars stands behind the man on the right, two types of jars are shown.
THE SECOND CHAMBER
Notwithstanding having roughly the same dimensions as the first chamber, this one is totally undecorated. Its purpose was possibly that of a storeroom, but no proof of this use was discovered. Its size is approximately 1.4m north-south and 3.3m east-west, with a height of just under 4 metres. The entrance from the previous chamber is located at the east end of the north wall, designed so that the door would open inwards.
PASSAGE TO THE COURTYARD
This passage could be closed off from the first chamber by the door in the west wall of the first chamber, thus making it part of the open courtyard. It is just over 2m in height, 0.6m wide and just less than 1m long. Both side walls are decorated almost identically, with Niankhkhnum an the south wall and Khnumhotep on the north. Today both walls are edged at the sides and the top by blank borders, originally these would have been painted with the usual coloured ladder band.
The wall is divided into two registers, which are probably intended to be read as one scene. An uncertainty arises as to whether the top one or the bottom one should come first, there are good reasons for either, but the bias is to reading the bottom register first.
The bottom register shows the retinue preceding Niankhkhnum on his “Journey to the beautiful West”. Leading it are three females representing the domains of the deceased. This an abridged version, a fuller version with 30 females will be encountered on the east wall of the antechamber in the rock-cut portion of the tomb. They each carry produce from their respective domains. Behind them are three “treasurers”, who carry either objects relating to the journey or to the domains.
The top register (like the north wall) is decorated with quite an unusual scene, as only one other example is known. Niankhkhnum kneels in a modestly sized litter, not carried by servants but carried by two harnessed donkeys. In his hand he holds his staff of office. He is accompanied by: in front of the donkey, a handler feeding them a tuft of grass; immediately behind the donkey, a drover carrying a short stick; and finally an official, who holds the deceased’s sandals in his hand. All three are named as “funerary priests” At the top of the register is an inscription in eight vertical lines, with the titles and the name of the deceased as well as the purpose of his trip, the “Journey to the beautiful West”.
This wall is almost identical to the south wall, all participants face towards the west, as the title of the scene also states. This time it represents the journey of Khnumhotep, the only major difference being the items carried by the three female of the domains. The titles above the deceased are the same as those found for Niankhkhnum, the whole text being : “The overseer of the manicurists of the palace, confidant of the king, honoured by the king, the one honoured by the great god, Khnumhotep. Journey to the beautiful West.”
The courtyard was created with the external stone structure,
directly in front of the entrance vestibule to the rock-cut section of
the complex. It was left open to the air but today it is covered by
strong metal grating. The area is almost a true rectangle, its height
being about 4.2m, the north and west walls being slightly longer than
those opposite, having the following wall lengths : north: 3.60m, south:
3.45m, east: 6.75 and west: 6.90. The east wall is punctuated in the
middle by the entry from the first chamber.
The gully, serving as drainage for the courtyard and which pierces the north wall, can only be seen inside the courtyard today. The difference in height between the rock-cut tomb and the courtyard was probably originally bridged by a ramp, leading to the patio frontage of its vestibule entrance, now appearing as a set of three steps.
The walls of the courtyard are now reconstructed from modern stonework. Since no decorated blocks were found which could be assigned to the courtyard it has to be assumed that the walls were not embellished with relief or artwork. Decoration begins again with the inner walls of the second vestibule.
THE SECOND VESTIBULE
The vestibule opens off to the south of the open courtyard and has the following internal dimensions: 3.65m high, 2.25m wide and 1.35m deep. Its entrance takes up almost the entire width of the vestibule, reduced only by two half-pillars 3 metres in height. On top of these rests an architrave, the whole producing a 1.9m wide entrance. Only the insides of the pillars, the sides facing each other, are decorated, the sides facing into the courtyard, including that of the architrave, remained undecorated.
The walls of the inside are fully decorated, with the exception of the metre high dado at the bottom. Again, all of these wall were bordered by the coloured ladder band and the upper band topped with the geometric frieze, all of which survives to a degree, particularly in the case of the south wall. The ceiling was created from three large blocks, the one at the east side is still painted a deep bright red. – show the ceiling colour and the top ladder band and geometric frieze of the south wall.
The south wall is punctuated by the entrance of the passageway into the rock-cut chambers of the mastaba/tomb. – In front of the entrance to the following chambers and taking up almost the entire floor of the vestibule, lies the well shaft of the sloping tunnel leading to the actual burial chamber complex. This is currently closed off to the public.
The two entrance side pillars
The decoration is in finely modelled sunken relief and was perhaps originally painted. The design on both is almost identical and extends the full height – Situated only few centimetres above the floor level, the two deceased stand as if leaving the tomb, Niankhkhnum on the western pillar, Khnumhotep on the east. The inscription, in a single column down the centre, is the same on both sides : “The overseer of the manicurists of the palace, honoured by the king”, followed by the name of the appropriate deceased.
This is actually the inside-facing surface of the architrave, but can be thought of as the north wall of the second vestibule.
The image field is divided into three sections, two rectangular fields at the sides, each with an image of the deceased standing and inspecting the scenes of the centre section, with Niankhkhnum left and Khnumhotep right. In the wide central area several herdsmen can be seen on two registers, which in each case brings fattened oxen. on the lowest of the two registers there is also a calf, referred to in the text above it as “upon the finger” (meaning “fed by hand”), thus it is no longer dependant upon its mother for milk and therefore old enough for slaughter.
The image field the east wall is subdivided into two sections of unequal size, both of which occupy the entire wall width. The uppermost section contains the main image of the wall and shows a very tall figure of Khnumhotep looking left, viewing wild game. In front of him the animals are shown in a vertical columns of sub-registers. The lower image section could be regarded as a further sub-register to this main image and shows the presentation of more wild animals. Presumably, because in this bottom register the animals are actually being presented to the deceased by four funerary priests, this register precedes the upper sub-registers in front of the main image and should be read first. The centre of the wall has suffered much damage, but the upper and lower section have survived reasonably intact,
Khnumhotep is accompanied by “His wife, whom he loves, the king’s administrator, the priestess of Hathor, the Mistress of the Sycamore, the priestess of Neith, Khenut” – Above the deceased is a hieroglyphic text in 8 vertical columns, giving the title of the scene, his especially extensively presented title and his name : “Viewing the wild game. The priest of Re in the sun temple of Niuserre, the wab-priest of the mortuary temple of Niuserre, the overseer of the manicurists of the palace, the privy councillor of his god, one whom his lord loves, honoured by the king, the one honoured by the great god, the king’s administrator, Khnumhotep.”
All of the animals come from the desert, including those of the bottom register, and nearly all are referred to as “young” and include various types of antelopes and gazelles (plus a young female hyena, in sub-register 5). The unaccompanied ones opposite the deceased are all tethered to the ground. In the lower register three of the animals are very young, two are actually being carried by the priests and which appear at the right-hand end of
Although this wall shows numerous damages and gaps, it is in a better condition than the opposite east wall. The arrangement and content of its imagery corresponds to that of the east wall, and possesses a somewhat greater quality. This time it concerns the viewing of the wild animals by Niankhkhnum and his wife, Khentikawes. The hieroglyphic texts associated with them provides the same titles as given to Khnumhotep on the wall opposite, albeit in a slightly different order. His wife only holds the titles : “the king’s administrator, the priestess of Hathor”.
Again, in seven narrow sub-registers, to the right of Niankhkhnum and Khentikawes, is the depiction of the wild game only this time they are not fastened to the ground The lower register has, again, four funerary priests, two larger (but “young”) animals but this time only one very small gazelle, carried by the priest at the end of the parade
This wall has at its centre the entrance passageway to the chambers of rock-cut portion of the mastaba/tomb. The entrance (width: 0.6m, height: 2.2m and 0.9m deep) subdivides the wall into three image fields, a horizontal rectangular field over the entrance and two tall rectangular fields at either side of the entrance.
The top horizontal field (see 56)
over the entrance shows two sections of different heights, an uppermost
section with the representation the two seated deceased in front of
separate tables and one lower section, which forms an architrave over
the entrance and contains an offering prayer in the two long rows of
The upper scene is, like the south wall of the first vestibule, shown as a double offering scene with Khnumhotep on the left and Niankhkhnum on the right. Between them offerings are displayed in two narrow sub-registers under which are portrayed four priests, two serving each of the deceased. An unusual feature of the scene is the fact that the two deceased are seated in chairs with solid sides (arm rests) and high backs.
A single line of text over each of the deceased (under the ladder band) and extending the width of the wall, gives the usual titles and their names.
The double text band of the architrave was produced in sunken relief of a deep red background, of which the east portion has faded. The lowest of the two rows again contains the titles and names of the deceased, whilst the upper one contains the offering prayer : “The king gives an offering, an offering given (namely) to Anubis, in front of his divine shrine. That they may be buried in the necropolis, after they have become very beautifully old (as) two lords honoured by the great god.”.
The two side fields, either side of the entrance to the passageway, contain the standing figures of the two deceased accompanied by their “eldest” sons. Khnumhotep is on the left opposite Niankhkhnum on the right. They both are adorned with a wig and a ceremonial beard, they wear a broad necklace and the formal pleated kilt over which hangs (from the shoulder) a panther fur. They both hold the staff of office in one hand a sceptre in the other. In front of them both, at the edge of the entrance, is a vertical column of text : “The priest of Re in the sun temple of Niuserre, the overseer of the manicurists of the palace, the confidant of the king and privy councillor”, followed by the appropriate name.
At a much smaller scale and standing in front the father, is the appropriate son, holding the staff of office held by the father. On the left wall is “His eldest son, the judge and scribe, honoured by his father, Schepsesptah”, naked and wearing the lock of youth, but even so he holds the titles of “judge and scribe”. On the right wall is “His eldest son, the judge and scribe, honoured by his father, Hem-re”, wearing an official kilt and a normal hairstyle. He is obviously portrayed to be much older than Khnumhotep’s son; another indication, perhaps, that Niankhkhnum was the older of the two deceased.
PASSAGE TO THE ANTECHAMBER
This passageway is the beginning of the rock-cut portion of the mastaba/tomb. Its height of just over 2 metres reflects the height of the following chambers, which is in great contrast to what has gone before. Its width (about 0.6m) is similar to that of the preceding passageways. The composite image (to the left) gives a false impression of the entrance being wider than it really is and was intended only to show the side walls in their setting. Spanning the entrance, immediately before the doorway to the antechamber, is a broad red rounded beam, representing a rolled up mat. Unlike the one found in the entrance to the first chamber from the first vestibule, this only contains the inscribed names of the two deceased in a single horizontal line, both names starting at the centre.
The rounded beam reduces the length of the top register of both side walls.
The entrance walls are faced with limestone, and their image fields are just over 1 metre in height. They are both subdivided into four registers and bordered at top and sides by the colour ladder with a much narrower geometrical frieze at the top. The undecorated dado area has its usual height of about 1 metre.
The four registers of this wall are approximately the same height and shows images of the offering service for the two deceased. The three upper registers portray a parade of funerary priests, each carrying one or more items of food The lowest register shows the presentation of the offering bulls The content of the three upper registers is described by the vertical inscription in front of (the edge nearest to the antechamber) registers 2 and 3 “Bringing the best from the buffet-table, the large breads and the various pieces of meat, for the invocatory offering.” Due to the reduced width of the top register, only four funerary priests are shown, whilst the registers below each have six. All of the priests are named. In the lower register two herdsman bring two oxen of different sizes, the one at the rear has an almond-shaped pendant hanging from its neck. The title of the activity is inscribed over the two bulls : “Bringing the young oxen for the morning meal”. Like elsewhere in this monument, the quality and detail of the workmanship is outstanding and has survived well the past four thousand years.
This wall is almost a mirror image of the east wall. Again, only four funerary priests are placed on the upper register with twelve in total on the two registers below. The priests are again named, but are different to those opposite – These registers are given the same title as used on the east wall.
The lowest register again shows two bulls of different size under the control of two herdsmen. This time both oxen have pendants hanging from their necks, the most elaborate being on the bull in front. The inscription states : “Bringing the young oxen for the evening meal”.
Note the alignment of the content of the two walls, the morning meal is on the east wall, with the rising sun, and the evening meal is on the west wall, with the setting sun.
This is the first of the rock-cut chambers. Its northern, first half was probably the full extent of the original tomb chapel, ending at the point where the double entrance to the offering chapel now begins. Its height is 2.05m, with a width of 2.25m and a final length of 7.6m. Compared with the chambers of the stone built mastaba portion of the complex, the ceiling suddenly appears extremely low. Only the upper 1.25m of the walls contain the image fields, the lower 0.8m being the undecorated dado.
The north wall is punctuated on its west (left) side by the doorway leading back through the passageway into the open courtyard. The doorway is wider than the actual passage, in order to take the inward opening door, which comes to rest against the west wall.
The decorated area is divided into four registers of roughly equal height and are devoted to scenes of the winnowing, sieving, storing and recording of cereal crops. Like many walls of the mastaba/tomb, they are to be read from bottom to top. However, they are not all necessarily to read in the same direction, i.e. left to right. The scenes are actually the final stages of the harvest which starts on the north end of the east wall.
The lowest register shows the winnowing and sieving of the grain by three women, their tasks are individually titled (left to right) as “winnowing, “sweeping and “sieving – the barley by the agricultural worker”. This wall does not show the action of trampling the corn to release the grain from the husks and chaff. At the right, a man rakes away the unwanted chaff with a long three pronged fork. The grain on this register is all labelled as barley. At the left hand edge, the work is overseen by an official.
In the next register corn measures are filled from one of two large piles of grain. The scene, which is only rarely shown within the grain harvest, consists of two virtually identical images, from which the left represents a mound of barley (jt), the right a mound of wheat (bdt). The two men filling the measures are overseen by the “crier” (nxt xrw), who calls out the number of measures to the “scribe of the granary”, who isn’t shown on this register. The measured grain would then be filled into sacks.
The next register shows the scene after the grain has been measured and filled into sacks. It shows four men carrying the sacks on their heads towards the left; the one at the front has already reached his goal and lifts the grain sack from his head aided by another worker standing in front of one of seven granaries
The top register depicts the final phase. The accounting for the quantity of grain is made by four village mayors of Upper Egypt, called before the scribe of the house administration. They are all portrayed as older men standing reverently before the scribe. An official, who has presumably summoned them, walks behind them. After the accounting with the village mayors, the list is handed over to the superintendent, who crouches on the ground at the right-hand end of the register. The title of the scene is given at the top as : “Recording of the grain. A counting of l000 (sacks of) wheat and a counting of 100 (sacks of) barley.”.
The east wall of the antechamber is the longest decorated in the tomb. It appears as two large image areas, each subdivided into four registers of uneven height. The lowest register is separated by an off-centred offering niche, thus making giving a somewhat different division. The far outer edges of the wall have the standing figure of one of the two deceased, Khnumhotep looking south (at the northern end) and Niankhkhnum looking north (at the southern end). They stand at the height of the top three registers. The inner edges, at the centre division of the wall, have the two deceased comfortably seated, Niankhkhnum in a sedan chair being carried north (in the northern section of the wall) and Khnumhotep in a normal chair looking south (in the southern section of the wall, behind his brother) ; these are again at the height of the top three registers. The north section (width: 4.04m; height: 1.25m) contains the scenes of agriculture and harvest, which extend to the left-hand side of the fourth register. The south section (width: 3.56m; height: 1.25m) contain images of work in the place of the craftsmen in the upper three registers; the fourth register contains a parade (by thirty females) of the domains, which extends into the northern section of the wall, as far as the right-hand side of the niche.
East wall – northern section
This section of the east wall is bounded by Khnumhotep (standing on the left) and Niankhkhnum (seated on the right) inspecting agricultural work. It is punctuated at the centre of the lower two registers by an offering niche (width: 1.09m; height: 0.52m; depth: 0.52m). This creates a strange division of the lower register, the area to the left shows a scenes connected with the rest of the northern half of the wall, but to right starts an independent scene belonging to neither of the groups, that of the parade of thirty females.
Khnumhotep, left, is accompanied by his eldest son, Ptahshepses, who holds his father’s staff of office and again appears naked (as in the entry vestibule to this chamber). Behind, a servant holds a parasol on a long pole over the deceased.
Niankhkhnum, right, is comfortably installed in a litter carried by six servants, in the centre of whom is a dwarf named Khednes. The dwarf is represented unclothed and carries a clothes box on his shoulders. Two men precede the porters, the first is a barber the second a funerary priest. The latter has a dog behind him on a leash. The dog, which belongs to the breed of slughi (or saluki), seems to be a favourite dog of the deceased and is called Hekenen. Behind Niankhkhnum are three men portrayed one above the other. The middle one appears unclothed and has a clothes sack thrown over his shoulder. Because he is the only unclothed person in the retinue, if one discounts the unclothed dwarf, he seems to occupy a relatively low position within the ranks of servants of the deceased. The other two men behind the deceased are funerary priests, the top one also being a manicurist and the other a barber.
The agricultural registers.
These registers are to be read from the top
The upper register is devoted to work in the fields, to be read from right to left. The first activity is that of ploughing using a team of oxen and tended by the ploughman and two other workers. Following behind is a sower, scattering the seeds into the furrows. These are then trampled into the ground by a flock of rams; to keep them moving, three shepherds walk behind them carrying whips. Finally, on the left, the scene changes to that of harvesting flax: the stalks are cut, gathered and cleared of weeds by three men. These are then carried, after having been bundled and tied, on the back of the next field worker to two others who collect them together.
Underneath, in the second register, reading again from right to left, four labourers are shown reaping a field of corn with sickles; one of them, obviously older and thirsty, pauses to refresh himself, thereby earning a sarcastic rebuke from the overseer who stands to the left of them: “Hurry up, you tired man!”. In the left-hand side of the register the sheaves are then transported on the backs of four donkeys, a young donkey can be seen at its mothers feet leading the procession.
In the third register, which is reduced by the niche, six donkeys are driven back to the field again, in order to transport more bundles of sheaves. The return of the donkeys to the field is not always shown separately in the imagery alongside the scene of the initial transportation. They trot towards twelve sheaves of grain situated to the right, which appear in the narrow image strip over the offering niche, and which are stacked in six rows of two, side by side.
Finally, in the lowest register, which extends under the figure of Khnumhotep, is portrayed a threshing floor, where peasants and oxen are busy separating the grain or threshing the barley. The register begins on the right-hand side, where the sheaves delivered on the backs of the donkeys are stacked by two workers. The grain is finally identified as barley. The central scene is where the threshing takes place using six oxen and not the usual donkeys. The oxen are controlled by two men. At the left end of the register, the trampled grain is stored in a silo by three men, two standing behind it and one at its right-hand side. This is almost always shown in connection with the threshing scene or near the location of winnowing. The winnowing scene is actually located in the bottom register of the north wall and is only separated from it by the vertical coloured ladder band.
East wall – southern section
Like the northern half of this wall, the top three registers are bounded by the two deceased, Khnumhotep (seated on the left) and Niankhkhnum (standing on the right), watching various craftsmen at work in their places of work
Khnumhotep is seated in a high-sided chair which
also has a high back support. The legs of the chair rest strangely on
small individual platforms (possibly representing ox hooves) and not the
usual broad base. At his feet is one of his sons, “Niankhkhnum the younger” and is shown unclothed and probably his youngest son, named after his uncle.
The deceased’s left hand is held out to the right, probably to accept a document which is handed to him by an employee, represented in the second register. The area of the second register, where this employee would have stood seems to have been wilfully destroyed, but above the now damaged area is the inscription : “Handing over the report about the work of all of the craftsmen.”.
Niankhkhnum stands at the south end of the wall. He is accompanied by “his son, the judge and scribe, Hem-re”, at the usual small scale holding the staff of his father (strangely he is unclothed).
At the right end of the top register a man, standing in front of the deceased, reads from an long open roll of papyrus and accounts for the work of the craftsmen. The inscription between Niankhkhnum and the top three registers states : “Considering the work in the workshop of the entire trade by the supervisor of the manicurists of the palace, Niankhkhnum.”.
The craftsmen registers.
These registers are to be read from the top.
The upper register is totally devoted to various stages of the manufacture of a statue. The six scenes read from left to right, the last scene showing the final painting of a large box for the transportation of the finished product. The stages include carving with mallet and chisel (the statue is being manufactured from wood), and painting. At the far right of this register is the afore mentioned reporting of the various works to Niankhkhnum.
The middle register of the three shows the activity within the metal workshop. These are to be read from right to left. The first scene is the smelting of metal (presumably bronze) by four workmen whose supervisor informs them : “The air is hot because of your breath. The smelt is refined.”.
This is used in the next scene to embed a blade. Next comes the melting of gold to produce gold-leaf, which is then shown being used to plate various items of funerary equipment. In turn these are: a sekhem sceptre, the clasp for a kilt and an official’s staff; the final item is a funerary diadem. The left extremity of this register originally contained the afore mentioned report to Khnumhotep.
The third register has the work carried out by jewelry craftsmen (right half) and carpenters (left half). The jewellers are in three stages of producing a large beaded necklace: from the threading of the beads to its final washing with a perfumed liquid. The left-hand half of the register concerns the manufacture of various pieces of wooden funerary furniture: a bed , a Djed-pillar a divine booth (for the statue of a deity) and a two legged back-rest, for when reclining horizontally The last scene is of a carpenter sawing a vertically held length of wood.
The parade from the estates.
Located in the fourth (lowest) register of the wall, the above title is somewhat inaccurate because none of the texts, associated with the females bringing the produce, actually contain any indication of location, usually a hieroglyphic determinative for “town” or “estate” , or the standard of a nome. These indicators are found in the Akhethotep sections of the mastaba of Akhethotep and Ptahhotep, mastaba D64, (Akhethotep view 01). This would indicate that the parade actually represents fictitious estates and is intended to magically provide the two deceased with continual provisions after reaching the afterlife.
The parade extends from the southern edge of the wall to the right-hand side of the offering niche. The procession represented here includes 30 women. They bring a variety of goods alternately to Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep, starting with Niankhkhnum, on the right. To these thirty women are to added the six appearing on the two side walls of the passageway from the first chamber to the courtyard, so that the total number presenting estate produce is thirty six.
The women are loaded with offerings which they either carry in baskets and boxes on their heads or hold in the crook of their arms or, if the produce is a living animal, held by a leash. They stride towards the right and are all dressed in long sleeveless dresses of either different design and/or colour and all with only one shoulder strap supporting the top of the dress -. In addition to their clothing, they wear a necklace as well as arm and ankle bracelets.
The produce brought for the two deceased includes: breads, meats, beer, figs, poultry, fruits, sweetmeats, onions, vegetables, lettuces, etc.; the live animals include: ibexes, calves, oryxes, gazelles and even hedgehogs in cages.
After viewing the east wall, the image area of this wall is relatively small (width: 2.10m; height: 1.20m). It is divided into three registers, the top one being much taller than the combined height of the lower two. The whole area represents a funerary banqueting scene, with the upper register showing the two deceased surrounded by food and drink, the middle register displaying the instrumental entertainment and the lowest register filled with dancers.
The upper register has Niankhkhnum seated left
and Khnumhotep seated right, each with their own offering table filled
with vertically standing half-loaves. The central area is filled with a
great variety of foods and drinks.
Unusually, behind Niankhkhnum sits his wife Khentikawes, at the same height and on the same sized chair; Khnumhotep sits alone. However, the representation has been changed, certainly at a later date, at the time when the tomb complex was open for cult worship. The picture of the wife has been almost completely erased and the relief cuts of the contour lines smeared with gypsum, although her image can still be recognised in a few places.
For the first time the name formula of the two deceased differs; Khnumhotep is referred to as : honoured by the great god, whilst Niankhkhnum still retains his titles of : confidant of the king and privy councillor. From this, it is possible that Khnumhotep is to be understood as already deceased to the time of the last editing of this text. It may also explain why Khnumhotep is represented on the west side of the wall and Niankhkhnum, quite uncommonly, on the east side.
The middle register is filled with musicians seated on the ground and which consists of 1 clarinettist, 2 flautists, 2 harpists, as well as a total of 6 chanters – technically called “cheironomists” (see below) – and a concert-leader standing at far right. The ensemble has separated itself into three instrumental groups. This seems to be an over-indulgence of instrumentalists, but may represent the combined musicians of the two deceased. The only person named on this register is the second flautist (right), he is Ankhredunesut. One of the three cheironomists at the right-hand end of the register appears to be out of step with the others. The concert-master calls to him whilst also giving us the title of the music just played : “The song, which has just finished, is ‘the (song) of the two divine brothers’, get with it!”.
Probably the oldest record of any form of music notation in
the Western World is from ancient Egypt. Tomb and temple paintings
strongly suggest that the Egyptians used a system of hand signs for
music, this is called cheironomy. Using these signs a cheironimist would
indicate to the musicians, or singers, the melody to be played or sung.
Traces of this technique are found in the more ancient musical traditions of India.
The masters of song in the middle ages used something similar for the instruction of the children.
Cheironomy is still in use today in some Middle Eastern sects, particularly by some traditional Jewish synagogues, to direct the singing of liturgical songs; since the Hebrew people spent a substantial period under bondage in Egypt, they may have adopted (or adapted) the Egyptian cheironomic system to their own use.
It is found in other Egyptian tombs and temples, as here. The absence of Egyptian references in dictionaries of musical notation probably comes from the lack of knowledge shown by the editors of the Egyptian civilisation.
In the lower register is the dance scene. This
may not be connected directly with the music scene above it, but may
have followed the music during the offering meal of the two deceased.
The register shows two different dances; a male dance portrayed on the
left-hand side and a female dance on the right.
The male group consist of three actual dancers in a kneeling position and accompanied by two men standing and clapping the rhythm to their right. The dance is named in the text above the two kneeling dancers whose hands meet : “Behold, the Teref dance”. All five men wear a ribbon kilt, normally associated with field labourers or the like. It is possible that the dance, like their kilt, is also associated with – and portrays – agriculture.
The female group consist of eight dancers who have their arms
raised above their head (as if carrying baskets) and move to the right
in-line, to the so-called “strict Iba-dance”. The stepping of the
dancers takes place to the beat of six women who are represented in two
sub-registers at the right end of the register. They crouch in a
kneeling position on the ground, clapping their hands rhythmically.
These women all wear a plain long dress with a single shoulder strap.
All of the dancers, with the exception of the first (right-most), only wear projecting kilts, but they each have a necklace with a counter-balance. The leading female is the daughter of Niankhkhnum : “The king’s administrator, Hemet-re”. She is likewise dressed in a projecting kilt but has a cross-banded arrangement on her upper torso, in addition to the necklace she also wears ankle and wrist bracelets. Her hairstyle is also different, she has a so-called ball-braid style, whilst the others all have a short hairstyle. Since the Iba dance is occasionally performed on the land (in connection with agriculture), then perhaps both dance groups are representing harvest scenes.
This wall of the rock-cut chamber, like the east wall, consists of two large sections. The south section (width: 3.20m) is further subdivided by the two passageways to the offering chamber. The north section (width: 3.70m), which finishes at the position where the door of the entrance rested when open, leaves a 0.90m wide undecorated section at the outermost north end of the wall. The image fields are again bordered by the colour ladder at the sides, with the exception of the very north edge. The decorated areas of the southern section of the wall has its usual colour ladder design and geometric freeze, but there is no corresponding uppermost image restriction on the north section of the wall, there, the image field finishes directly at the ceiling.
The dado area of the west wall (height: 0.80m) is decorated for the first time. It contains four fully executed false doors, which are created in a row from left to right, next to each other, to which a fifth incomplete one has been added further to the right. There are also traces of one being planned in the dado area of the middle pillar between the two passageways to the offering chamber.
West wall – southern section
The decoration of the south section the west wall takes into account the two passageways to the offering chamber of the tomb, which exit to the west. The two entrances (in each case: width: 0.83m; height: 1.80m) are separated from each other by a 1.18m wide piece of wall, which gives the appearance of a central pillar It is decorated with the now famous representation of two deceased embracing A single lintel crosses over the two passageways and the top of the separating pillar, over the entire width of this section of the wall. This contains, in two separate sections, a list of oils for the two deceased. To the left of the south passageway is the equivalent of a doorpost, decorated with images of three funerary priests, the pillar being the equivalent of the other doorpost. However, there is no equivalent for the north passageway, its northern edge is the beginning of the north section of the west wall, and as such contains the beginning of its scenes, which relate to the two deceased in the papyrus thicket of the Delta.
The oil lists
The lintel over the two passageways and central pillar is subdivided into two sections. These contain lists of sacred oils for the two deceased, each starting at a vertical line above the centre of the pillar. The left (south) list belongs to Niankhkhnum and extends over the southern passageway. The right (north) list belongs to Khnumhotep and extends over the northern passageway. The entire list field is restricted by a horizontal colour ladder above and below.
In contrast to the oil list of the offering lists, here the names of the seven sacred oils of the Old Kingdom are not only inscribed but also shown illustrated in containers standing on tables. The oil list is therefore shown as an oil storehouse. In both cases the oils listed are: festival perfume, hekenu oil, pine oil, nekenem oil, tewat oil, best quality pine oil and best quality Lybian oil.
The funerary priests.
To the left of the southern passageway is a narrow section of wall, 0.36m wide, effectively a doorpost It extends from under the oil list of Niankhkhnum down to the undecorated dado. This is decorated with three right facing funerary priests, one above the other. They each carry funerary offerings; amounting to various breads, beers, figs, vegetables and grapes.
The central pillar.
The imagery of the central pillar shows the two embracing deceased, Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep, in the presence of their gathered children. The wives of the two deceased don’t appear.
The two deceased face towards each other, with one standing
slightly in front of the other. In front is Niankhkhnum, standing left
and looking right towards Khnumhotep, who is partially masked by
Niankhkhnum. Both deceased are clothed in same manner. They have natural
hair, the style of which is more easily seen in the case of
Niankhkhnum. They both have broad necklaces and a formal kilt with
guilded kilt-corner and belt. Niankhkhnum has his left arm hung downward
and holds, with his right hand, the left forearm of Khnumhotep.
Khnumhotep for his part holds his right arm behind the back of
Niankhkhnum and places his hand on the other’s right shoulder. An
embrace scene of this kind is extremely rarely, even with
representations of the deceased embracing his wife or with scenes of
mother and daughter or mother and son.
The inscription behind each of the deceased gives their usual titles and name, but additionally states: “as well as his children.” (msw.f).
The children indicated in the inscription are portrayed behind the two deceased in each case. A similar grouping of family members can often be observed in the Old Kingdom, in which the head of the family normally appears in the company of his wife.
Niankhkhnum’s children (three sons and three daughters) stand to the left in two sub-registers behind their father and are portrayed to a much smaller scale All are solemnly clothed, with exception of the final son, who is unclothed and shown with the lock of youth. The men wear the projecting kilt, the women the long sleeveless dress and a necklace. In the upper sub-register (right to left) are: Hem-re (m), Hemet-re (f) and Qed-unas (m) ; in the lower sub-register: Khewiten-re (f), Nebet? (her image is damaged) and Khnumhezewef (m).
Likewise, Khnumhotep’s children (five sons and one daughter) are represented in two sub-registers behind their father However only the three of the uppermost sub-register are presumably the “physical” children of Khnumhotep, so to speak, since only these are in the official dress resembling that of the children of Niankhkhnum. The ones painted in lower register are shown in a simple smooth kilt and portrayed with various offerings. Even so, they are still considered to be his children. They are, in the upper sub-register: – Ptahshepses (m), Ptahneferkhu (m) and Rewedzawes (her image is very badly damaged today) ; in the lower sub-register: Kaizebi (m), Khnumheswef (m) and Niankhkhnum? the younger.
West wall – northern section
The imagery of the north section the west wall starts immediately to the right of the northern passageway to the offering chamber. It includes two large image fields, which are apportioned differently and also show different complex scenes. The large image field to the left represents, once more, the two deceased hunting in the papyrus thicket. The one to the right is sub-divided into three registers of different heights. These have scenes from the life of the herdsmen in the fields, as well as of the breeding of the beef-herds. Under both these image fields is a long sub-register which is interrupted towards its northern end by a small offering niche (width: 0.55m; height: 0.30m; depth: 0.35m). The register shows images of jousting in boats during the homecoming of the herdsmen from the fields. Finally, in the dado area, under the fourth register, there are the doors of appearance.
Hunting in the papyrus thicket.
The two deceased are shown on either side of a papyrus thicket. Niankhkhnum is portrayed left and Khnumhotep is on the right. The scene is analogous with the representation on the south wall of the first vestibule at the entrance of the tomb. As there Niankhkhnum is hunting after wild birds with the throwing stick and Khnumhotep is spearing fish. Both deceased stand in a striding position in a papyrus boat on a creek overgrown with lotus flowers, powered by a punter standing at the stern of the small vessel.
Niankhkhnum (left) is described as : “Breaking the wing and/or neck of the waders amongst the papyrus thicket.”. He is accompanied by his wife, Khentikawes, who crouches between his legs; and his son, Hem-re, who stands at the front of the boat. Behind the deceased, in a small sub-register, are two assistants. Both hold spare throwing sticks and a wild bird.
Khnumhotep (right) is described as :”The spearing of the fish in the marsh water is consider more beautiful than all things.”. Again his referred to as : “The one honoured by the great god.”, again possibly indicating him to be already deceased to the time of the creation of this text. He accompanied by his wife, Khenut, squatting in the middle of the ship; and his son, Shepsesptah, who stands at the front of the boat. In contrast to Niankhkhnum, Khnumhotep has no escorts. However, in the thicket behind his small craft is a frog
Life of the herdsmen in the fields.
The scenes to the right of hunting in the swamp, are arranged in three registers. They are of different heights and also of different widths due to the varying junction right-hand side of the activities in the papyrus thicket. The overall image portrays different episodes from the life of the herdsmen : in the first register – craft-like activities in the field, in the second register – the breeding of cattle and finally in the third register – the homecoming of the herdsmen from the field and the related crossing of the ford by the herd.
The upper register
is sub-divided into three scenes, to be read from right to left. At the right, in the first scene, three people are making a papyrus mat. The first man braids the papyrus fibres to form the basis of the mat. The following two dust off the fibres and weave the mat. All three are overseen by a supervisor. The second scene shows the making of bread, which is actually read from left to right. A herdsman mixes the dough in a large container, another moulds the loaves and a third bakes them on the fire; he impatiently rebukes the moulder : “Give it a once, come on”. Finally, at the end of the upper register, sits the supervisor in a comfortable chair made of matting. He is handed a flat bowl by the herdsman standing in front of him. The supervisor, characterised by his beard and receding hairline as an old man, accepts the beverage from the herdsman who utters the following words to his supervisor : “This is agreeable! You will be content with it.”.
The middle register
is again sub-divided into three scenes and also to be read from right to left. A cow giving birth faces to the right and is being attended during calving by three men One steadies the mother, holding her by the horns, a second pulls out the calf, while a third stands behind giving hand signals. In the second scene a young calf is given some milk to drink : this is almost certainly being hand-reared Further along, a herdsman is busy milking a cow, in front of which stands its young calf The man doing the milking is helped by a colleague, who restrains the cow by a rope binding its hind legs. Finally, to their left, two men are positioned beneath a shelter . One is butchering a goat, but the other one, identified as the farm foreman Khuy, is comfortably settled and fast asleep.
The bottom register depicts the traditional crossing of a ford by the herd, supervised by “The supervisor of the funerary priests, the leader of the herdsmen, Ankhreduinisu.”. The text reads : “Leaving the marshy landscape for higher land, by the herdsmen with their products and cattle”.. The eight-strong herd follow two papyrus boats, each laden with a variety of goods and several herdsmen.
Jousting in boats.
This long register is usually referred to as the “sailor’s joust”, but in fact they are possibly the herdsmen of the upper right registers returning home, who have taken time out to have a mock battle. Despite the subdivision of the register, caused by the offering-niche, it was probably intended to be considered as a non-stop scene. To the left, in the wide section, is shown the jousting; to the right, in the shorter section are represented the herdsmen not involved in the fight. Their boat is heavily laden with a wide variety of goods. From the action of its two punters it is progressing to the right and probably indicated that this is the front edge of the whole register.
In the sailor’s joust painted in the wide left
section, the number of vessels is unusually high for such fight games
between boats, being five in total and manned by eighteen men. The
individual boats contain either three or four persons and are laden with
all sorts of offerings, which are distributed over the entire body of
the boat in each case.
Several (especially those actually involved in the fight) are identified as “barbers” and “manicurists” and also as “funerary priests”; therefore occupational colleagues of the two deceased, who usually travel peacefully on the waterways. This creates a conundrum: The cargoes indicate herdsmen returning home, but the identity of the combatants indicate something entirely different. Is this joust executed in honour of the two deceased, Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep? Perhaps this is some form of festive sport being portrayed, whose real importance remains a mystery.
The action between the individual boats probably took place side by side and not in a frontal confrontation. It happens in shallow water, which is overgrown with lotus blossoms and which lies near a papyrus thicket, out of which the last boat of the fighting group appears. The punting poles and paddles now become weapons, with which the fighters try to push their opponents from their boat or with them try to score a resounding blow on their opponents. So far no-one has fallen into the water.
The doors of appearance.
These are also called “false doors”. The dado area of the northern section of the west wall was presumably the full extent of the first construction phase, as shown by the presence of the doors of appearance of the two deceased. Although there are now four such doors, the two which are deepest into the chamber are those of Niankhkhnum (furthest in) and Khnumhotep. The two small ones (to the right), which could be regarded as additional, still have their offering stones laying in front of them. With the post-allocation for Niankhkhnum’s family members, those of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep served as a starting point for the attachment of further appearance doors in the dado area of this wall. The leftmost of the two additional doors is that of Hem-re, the son of Niankhkhnum, then (to its right) that of Tjeset, the wife of Hem-re.
All four doors are designed as a door frame inside a door frame. In each case, between the two lintels is a scene of the appropriate deceased in front of an offering table. The inner lintel is inscribed with the name and title of the deceased.
Situated in front of the two northern doors, those of Hem-re and his wife, and still in situ at the time of exploration, are their offering stones. They are positioned so that the hieroglyphic inscription could be read on exiting the false door, thus upside down when viewed from in the chamber facing the west wall. The htp-sign (the offering table with a loaf of bread) was sculpted in raised relief, whilst the text is in sunken relief.
Passageways to the offering chamber
Two means of access to the offering chamber are located in the southern part of the west wall, left and right of a central pillar. These, in the widest sense, belong to the antechamber since the doors of the offering chamber lie at the offering chamber end and open into it. The dimensions of both passageways are the same (width: 0.83m; height: 1.80m; depth: 0.67m). All four surfaces are decorated in the same manner, with only slight differences, and contain an image area of 0.57m width and 0.93m height. In each case, these are bordered at the side edges by the so-called colour ladder. The upper border consists only of the geometrical frieze, which is still recognisable on the south thickness of the north passageway. The dado areas remained undecorated.
The southern passageway leads to the appearance door of Niankhkhnum and so, by implication, the content of its walls relate to him. The northern one, which leads to that of Khnumhotep, also by implication, relates him.
Each of the four walls is sub-divided into four registers. The uppermost registers show the parade of offering cattle intended for slaughter; the two middle registers both show a parade of wild game, various types of antelope, also intended for offering. Finally, the narrow lowermost register represents poultry intended the offering to the deceased, including on the north wall of the south passage, a pigeon On the two southern walls are (in total) 6 cattle, 10 wild animals and 6 poultry (although the poultry are indicated as being in 1000s) ; the northern walls (in total) 5 cattle, 9 wild animals and 6 poultry (again in 1000s). Once again Niankhkhnum, south passageway, has predominance with the greater numbers. All animals and poultry face into the offering chamber.
THE OFFERING CHAMBER
This is the second of the rock-cut chambers and was probably produced during the second phase of construction. Its height is 2.10m, with a width of 3.15m and a depth of 2.25m. Only the upper 1.3m of the walls contain the image fields, the lower portion being the dado of 0.8m in height. The dado area shows its original painting for the first time, which consisted of an upper red then a yellow stripe, whilst the greater lower portion is black.
The chamber may be considered as two chambers with an invisible dividing wall, the southern half being that of Niankhkhnum and the northern belonging to Khnumhotep. The two halves are decorated as almost mirror images.
Calling this the east “wall” is a slight exaggeration because it is somewhat limited in its expanse, due to the fact that the two entrances, which connect with the preceding chamber (which are further broadened by the recesses for the doors), lie either side of it. Therefore, it consists only of the central pillar (width: 0.90m; height: 1.94m) and a lintel (height: 0.16m) extending over the pillar to the entire chamber width. The lintel was already damaged in ancient times, presumably during the late period, so that today its original decoration is no longer discernible. Only the tall image field of the pillar remains today (width: 0.78m; height: 1.14m), and even this had to be reconstructed from single blocks scattered around the offering chamber.
This area is bordered by the conventional colour ladder. The
other remaining colour at this end of the offering chamber belongs to
the recesses for the two doorways. These were painted red. The recesses
over the doorways, however, vanished along with that of the original
The image field shows a representation of the two deceased embracing. A similar picture is located on the opposite west wall so that a correspondence exists between these two representations.
As with the previous scene of embrace, on the other side of this pillar, Niankhkhnum stands in front of Khnumhotep and again facing north. Both deceased face each other so closely that their noses touch. Their names are drawn in vertical lines behind each of the deceased.
The wall consists of one large coherent scene (width: 2.30m; height: 1.25m). The decoration shows the deceased, Niankhkhnum, seated to the right in front of a offering table containing 14 bread halves. Above his head, in four vertical columns, is inscribed his name and his most important titles. He wears a stranded wig and a ceremonial beard, he has a broad necklace and an amulet hanging on a chain under the necklace. He also wears a heavily ribbed projecting kilt, of which the triangular front sticks upwards. Under the food table are vessels intended for washing, a pitcher of water and a bowl. An inscription, which begins over the bread halves and continues under the food table, names an abbreviated list of his offerings (all in 1000’s) breads, jugs of beer, cattle, poultry, alabaster vessels, rolls of material, ointments all sweet things, all good things; for each day..
At the same height as Niankhkhnum’s name and titles, extending left to the other end of the wall, is a tabular list of 89 offerings. These are inscribed in short vertical columns in two sub-registers.
Below this long list, the wall is divided into a further three registers the uppermost being further divided into three sub-registers.
The three narrow sub-registers, extending left from the deceased and his table, the top two actually extend over it. All three contain visual representations of the offerings.
Next is a register displaying offerings carried to Niankhkhnum by ten funerary priests. They all have curly wigs and wear the kilt specific to their profession. They bring to the deceased (in total) three poultry, a young oryx, ibex and calf, various meat joints, a mug of beer and a tray of breads.
Finally, directly over the dado area, stands the register showing the images (right to left) of the slaughter of a black spotted ox, an oryx and an ibex. All the animals lie with their head to the right. Eleven butchers are involved with the slaughter of these animals, all wear a curly wig as well as the short kilt of their work.
The removal of the front leg of the black spotted ox is shown in the traditional manner. An assistant at the tail end of the animal pulls the front leg with all of his strength. The butcher stands to the right, at the head end, and severs the front leg at the joint. An assistant kneeling on the ground holds up a vessel and catches the blood. Finally, to the right of the animal and behind the actual butcher stands the knife sharpener.
The wall is a near mirror image, at least in its overall basic structure, to that of the the south wall. This time Khnumhotep is seated at its west (left) end in front of his offering table. Again, the four columns of vertical inscription above the head of the deceased gives his name and most important titles. He dressed in an identical fashion to Niankhkhnum. The table is provided with the washing materials and an around the table an almost identical list of offerings (in 1000’s), but it has the addition of a Dorcas-gazelle (with no number indicated).
The remainder of the wall is sub-divided into the same sets of registers, only the actual content differing
The long tabular list again contains 89 items, but differ after item 33.
The three narrow sub-registers, extending right from the deceased and his table, again contains a visual display of a wide variety of offerings
The next register again contains 10 funerary priests dressed as they were for Niankhkhnum, bearing offerings to Khnumhotep. Although the order is changed, the actual offerings are almost identical.
The final register this time contains, from left to right: the slaughter of an oryx, then an ox. Finally, this time, instead of the actual slaughter of an animal, the butchers are shown skinning an ox. The scene is very rare and in it the ribs of the animal can be easily seen.
The west wall of the offering chamber contains the two
appearance doors of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep, as a partition before
the serdab (or statue chamber) of the tomb. Today, the southerly
appearance door of Niankhkhnum (width: 1.31m; height: 2.10m) is greatly
damaged, because a shaft was cut through at a later period, causing the
structure above it to collapse. The northerly appearance door (of the
same size) of Khnumhotep remains intact. This northerly door contains a
vertical slit in the right-hand section of the outer doorframe which
produced the connection to the serdab lying behind this west wall. The
two doors are separated by a central field (width: 0.53m). This is
embellished by a representation of the two deceased embracing each
The doors, together with the central field, form a single unit, since both appearance doors are interconnected by one upper horizontal lintel.
The appearance door of Niankhkhnum.
Despite its severe damage, enough survives to be certain that style and content were almost identical to that of Khnumhotep, at the other end of the wall (see detail above or description below). The main differences being in the descriptive hieroglyphic texts, which fortunately have survived. Its structure comprises: an upper (outer) lintel, a left outer doorframe (Khnumhotep’s appearance door has the right one), an image field under the upper lintel, a lower lintel, inner doorposts (left and right) and an inner false opening with an inscribed rounded beam and field. The following inscriptions are, in part, derived from those of Khnumhotep’s door.
The upper lintel is inscribed with an offering text, which starts at the centre of the common lintel and progresses left, reading from right to left. “An offering which the King gives, (namely) an offering which Anubis (is given), the first of the Hall of the Gods. May he be buried in the necropolis after he has become very beautifully old (as) one honoured by the great god, Niankhkhnum.”
The inscription of the left outer doorframe (which still fully exists) is: “An offering which the king gives so that his voice comes out for him at the beginning of the year, for the Thoth-festival, for the beginning-of-the-year-festival, for the Wag-festival, for the Sokar-festival, for the great festival, for the fire-festival, for the procession of Min festival, for the monthly Sadj-festival, for the beginning-of-the-month-festival, for the half-month-festival, for every festival every day, for Niankhkhnum.”.
The image field between the upper and lower lintels no longer exists, but would have contained a scene similar to that on Khnumhotep’s door.
The lower lintel has the name and titles of the deceased.
The two inner doorposts originally contained a representation of the deceased looking inwards, similar to those on the door of Khnumhotep (see detail above). Only a few sections now exist. The deceased is shown with natural hair, wearing a broad necklace and a projecting kilt; he holds his staff of office in his hand. A brief inscriptions named his as: “The king’s administrator, Niankhkhnum.”.
Between the two inner doorposts is a false entry/exit serving the serdab, enabling the deceased to enter the world of the living. The short beam is inscribed with his name, whilst the area below it gives: “The overseer of the manicurists of the palace, confidant of the king, Niankhkhnum.”.
The appearance door of Khnumhotep.
This door of appearances has survived virtually intact, although much of its original colour has disappeared. Its structure is the same as that of Niankhkhnum, excepting that this one has the right outer doorframe.
The upper lintel is again inscribed with the same offering text, but this time for Khnumhotep. It is also to be read from right to left, starting from the right-hand edge and progressing to the centre of the common lintel.
The inscription of the right outer doorframe is different to the left one of Niankhkhnum: “The king gives an offering, that he may wander on the beautiful pathways, on which the honoured wander, (namely) the supervisor of the manicurists of the palace, Khnumhotep.”.
The image field below the upper lintel shows a splendid offering table scene, which stands between two tall rectangular fields. It contains the image of the deceased seated left before a food table covered with twelve stylised halves of bread. The deceased is dressed as usual. Under the table are offerings of bread and beer (in jugs). To the right of the table are further offerings. The scene is inscribed with the usual name and titles of the deceased.
The lower lintel has again the name and titles of the deceased.
The two inner doorposts contain a representation of the deceased looking inwards. He is shown with natural hair and again dressed in his usual attire. He is named in a brief inscription as: “The king’s administrator, Khnumhotep.”.
Between the two inner doorposts is a false entry/exit serving the serdab, enabling the deceased to enter the world of the living. The short beam is inscribed with his name, whilst the area below it gives: “The overseer of the manicurists of the palace, confidant of the king, Khnumhotep.”.
The final embrace.
Between the two doors of appearance is the common image field contains the representation of the two deceased embracing. Unlike the two previous similar scenes, their heads don’t approach each other but are, despite the embrace, clearly separated from each other. They both have their natural hair, both wear broad necklaces and a formal kilt with a decorative belt-buckle. Niankhkhnum stands to the left, Khnumhotep to the right, both facing each other. Niankhkhnum holds the left forearm of Khnumhotep with his left hand, which passes in front of latter; Khnumhotep holds his right arm behind the back of Niankhkhnum and puts his right hand on the right shoulder of his brother.
Above their heads, in two vertical columns each, their names and titles are again beautifully inscribed in raised relief : “The manicurist of the king, the supervisor of the manicurists of the palace, the confidant of the king, the one whom his lord loves, ……”.
SHAFTS AND BURIAL CHAMBERS
In addition to the main burial/coffin chambers (and related means of access) of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep, there also exists a number of other vertical burial shafts, in particular those along the east wall of the antechamber Two of these were probably the original shafts for both deceased during the first phase of construction.
The totally undecorated burial chamber area of the installation of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep, presumably created during the second phase, can be reached by a sloping tunnel which proceeds in a southwards direction, and which passes directly under the antechamber of the tomb The access to this tunnel begins directly before the rock-cut section of the tomb, in the floor of the rebuilt second vestibule, at the south end of the open courtyard. The sloping tunnel begins under the edge of the south wall of the vestibule and leads at an inclined angle of approximately 16° for 6.70m under the antechamber. The tunnel is 1.70m in width and 1.20m in the height. It leads directly into the first (eastern) coffin chamber, the floor of which is one metre lower than the end of the floor of the tunnel and just over four metres below that of the antechamber.
The space was created as double chamber (extended by a southern gallery in a much later period) in which an eastern and a western room can be distinctly identified. The chambers were created side by side and were separated from each other only by a low stone partition wall. This wall, which reaches a height of 0.85m, was broken through at a later date (either due to the damage of the tomb under Unas or during a later time, so that it is only its north part survives.
The limestone sarcophaguses of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep were placed in the two coffin chambers. The one found in the eastern chamber lay in a north-south orientation, its lid had been smashed in ancient times. The one of the western chamber had been smashed and laid as buttresses against the north wall. Numerous wooden coffins, of a later period, were located in the eastern chamber. Because neither of the two stone sarcophaguses were inscribed, it was difficult to decide to which of the two chambers the deceased Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep were assign. Signs indicate that the burial of Niankhkhnum was in the eastern chamber and Khnumhotep was in the western one. This is firstly explained by the fact that the appropriate shaft (labelled “K” on the plan, above left) before the door of appearance of Khnumhotep, leads directly down into the western coffin chamber to a position in front of the original location of the sarcophagus, and which could therefore have been intended for the burial of Khnumhotep. The sloping tunnel would thus have served only for the burial of the person buried in the eastern chamber, which could only therefore have been for Niankhkhnum. As elsewhere in the tomb, Niankhkhnum can be observed in the dominant position, as also with the favourable location of the sarcophagus, and nearest to the place of the living. However it should be noted that the western chamber is actually larger.