This measures 0.54m wide, 1.87m high with an approximate length of 1.00m. It is accessed by a 0.12m raised threshold of small blocks of limestone. Neither the left nor the right walls are perfectly vertical, and both are damaged and completely uninscribed. The south wall has benefited from repair with the insertion of blocks in the middle friable zone (see XXXVIII detail).
The ceiling was painted in dark red, dotted with black spots, in imitation of the famous Aswan granite. This pattern is also found on the ceiling of the chapel chamber itself, as can be seen in view LXVIIa, which also shows the appearance of the room at the time of the discovery of the tomb, filled with debris from the collapse of part of the north wall, which will be examined in detail later.
It is possible that the owner planned to complete the decoration of this entry and that of the facade after completion of interior work.
The East Wall
This is the facing wall on entry to the inside of the inner chamber. The decoration, which takes up the entire length of this wall, repeats the composition found on the facade of the Merefnebef complex. The presence here of the procession of multiple figures of the owner is unique in the tombs of the Old Kingdom.
Several reasons could explain the migration of these scenes to the inside of the chapel.
• Firstly, the facade is the place most exposed to natural erosion, especially as the stone is of poor quality.
• Secondly, because of political and social upheaval, times have become more troubled, especially after the brief period on the throne of Userkare, who was probably a usurper. Thus, for fear of deliberate damage, Egyptian owners of tombs increased the number of representations on the walls of the chapel and the number of statues in the serdab (Nyankhnefertem did not however have a serdab); they would even place them at the bottom of the funerary shaft, where they believed they would be better protected.
• Finally, in the particular case of Nyankhnefertem, another consideration surely comes into play: he certainly saw how little some of the heirs of Merefnebef carried out the will of their father, which was worrying, and he tried to prevent the same thing happening to his chapel. He thus produced this very well studied composition, where each one's place in the family hierarchy is specified, more by iconography than in the text.
So, to protect the scene and ensure that his will be better respected, he decided to place what is seen as the main scene of his chapel in what he considered as the best place, immediately visible to all visitors, giving it the exclusive rights on this wall.
| Each half can be enlarged by clicking on it. For an enlargement of the whole wall, click HERE
The total wall measures 6.53m in length, with a height of 1.90m. The decorated area takes up the full width, with a height of about 1.20m. There is a a small undecorated area at the top (approximately 10cm in height) and a blank dado area (about 0.60m in height), extending from the bottom of the imagery to the floor. The decorated area of wall is divided into two symmetrical parts, each with four representations of the deceased striding, staff in hand, towards the centre of the wall. Stylistic details in the treatment of his face show that each half of the wall was created by a different artist (or group of artists). Each of the eight sections are created to the same model: a 0.93 to 0.96m representation of Temi. In front of each image of him, to the height of the display, is a vertical column of text which includes his titles and epithets. Each image is accompanied by one or two members of his family, each of whom also have a small identifying caption. Each column should have been bordered by a line incised vertically, but this is not always present. Sometimes these are replaced by traces of black paint. At the top of the area is a large horizontal banner of text (actually two, one above each of the two groups of four images). They each begin at the centre of the wall and extends symmetrically to either side.
Remains of multicolours are only found on the four images of the north side and in scene 6 (of the south side), but curiously, there was never any white paint on the wall, which is particularly striking in terms of the kilts worn by the various figures: the anomaly is probably related the fact that the work was not completed.
On entering the chamber, immediately in front of the visitor, can be seen the double vertical column of hieroglyphs. These are the result of the fact that the four figures of each side are preceded by the title text and this is the junction of the two groups. Thus the two leading images of the deceased, accompanied by his eldest son (right) and his wife (left), face each other. These images of the deceased are based on those found at the tomb of Merefnebef, but the other representations vary slightly in visual design.
Nyankhnefertem is represented in a stereotypical manner except in scene 4, where he appears with a few different personal features. Apart from this scene, only the hair changes, sometimes he has a small curly wig (accompanied with more juvenile facial features) and sometimes a wig which extends down to his shoulders. He wears a short beard, a blue painted broad necklace and a relatively short kilt, not even reaching down to his knees. This kilt has the usual front section which projects forward, associated with higher ranking men. The only exception is scene 4, where he wears a tight fitting kilt. In one hand he holds a long staff of office, in the other hand he grasps a folded piece of cloth. Here again, scene 4 is the exception, where he holds a sceptre not a folded piece of cloth.
In these scenes, Nyankhnefertem is always accompanied by at least one character, sometimes two, always represented smaller than himself: his wife, Seshseshet, is present twice, and his eldest son, Meruka, four times. The importance of these two characters is reinforced by their position on either side of the middle line of the wall. Meruka has other privileges: he is always represented alone with her father, and he is also the only one to hold a piece of cloth in his hand, (see LXXXVII detail) and also the only one to wear a wig which extends down to his shoulders, but not as long as that of his father in four of the scenes.
One of the most remarkable things is that in this wall is the attempt to render the images in three-dimensions (although not in perspective) by the position of the main character and secondary figures at different levels. This is to differentiate, for the observer looking at the scenes face-on, the positional presence of characters to the right or left of Nyankhnefertem. In Egyptian artistic conventions, the figures represented in front of the tomb owner, means that they are standing beside him on the off side (these are set on a higher level than the main figure). Those represented positioned behind him, are on his closer side to the viewer, these are shown standing on the same level as his feet. The only exception is that of his eldest son, Meruka, in scene 5, where he is depicted in front of his father, striding in front of his legs. This exception is possibly to be interpreted as expressing the eldest son's predominant position in the family.
Both representations which include Seshseshet (scenes 2 and 3): she is portrayed above ground level, crouching, her left hand is folded across her chest, her right hand rests on her thigh (see LXXIIIb).
Scene 1 : the upper text band
This is actually two bands, one above the northern section of the wall and one above the southern. Each part of the inscription, both of which start at the centre of the wall (actually very slightly offset to the right), has a different version of the offering formula:
• Northern band (to the left, above scenes 2 to 5): "A offering which Osiris gives, Lord of Busiris, Lord of the Thinite Nome, (namely) an invocation offering for him on the Opening of the Year Festival, the Festival of Thot, on the Beginning of the Year Festival, the Wag Festival, the Festival of Sokar, every festival, every day, eternally, (namely for) the inspector of the Great House, Nyankhnefertem."
• Southern band (to the right, above scenes 6 to 9): "An offering which the king gives and Anubis, Foremost of the Divine Booth, Who is in the embalming place, Lord of the Sacred Land, Who is upon his hill, that he may be buried in the necropolis in the Western Desert, after he has become exceedingly old, (namely) the inspector of the Great House, Nyankhnefertem."
Scene 2 (see LXXII)
Here the major figure wears a short wig and the normal kilt; the accompanying column of text identifies him as "Inspector of the Great House, overseer of linen, Nyankhnefertem".
In front of him squats his wife, wearing a tripartite wig, identified as "his wife, his beloved, Seshseshet".
Behind him stands one of his sons, holding the calf of his rear leg. Part of his accompanying inscription was deliberately hammered out, the region of the name was covered with mortar on which clumsy hieroglyphs have been drawn in red. This today reads, "his son, his beloved [...] Mereri" (see LXXIIId). The son's head was also reworked. Presumably at some point (possibly after the death of his father?), a young Mereri acquired (or was given) a more important role in the family and dislodged one of his brothers who had this prestigious position.
This time Nyankhnefertem wears a long wig and is accompanied by his wife and his son Djawy. Here the main column of text states: "Inspector of the king's house, privy to secrets of the king in his every cult-place, Nyankhnefertem.".
His wife, Seshseshet, again squatting and wearing a tripartite wig, is identified as before. She is here represented younger, whereas in scene 2, when she had assumed a role as a mother, was shown more mature. Here the work is very poor, an ill-proportioned torso, hands made in haste and the ear non-incised (see LXXVb).
The son is identified as "His son, his beloved, under-supervisor of the Great House, Djawy".
Here, Nyankhnefertem is holding a kherep sceptre and, for the only time on this wall, he wears a tight fitting kilt. The accompanying column of text states: "Sole companion, privy to secrets of the House of the Morning, whose great name is Nyankhnefertem".
This time he accompanied by two sons, both with the same name. The one in front holds onto his father's staff with one hand and with the other an unnaturally large bird with an out of proportion high crest on its head. He is: "his son, his beloved, Mereri". The one standing behind and holding the calf of his father's leg, is his: "son, his beloved, Mereri". Note that both of these sons are named Mereri.
This scene is remarkable for its quality of execution and was probably intended to serve as a model for the rest of the composition. In particular the treatment of Nyankhnefertem's face, that of his hand grasping the staff, and the son's wig, are of high quality and reflect the quality of a true Master. The son, who wears a kilt like that of his father in this scene, is the eldest, Meruka. His status as heir is further reinforced by the unique way that one of his feet is partially covered with that of the front one of Nyankhnefertem. There is no better illustration of the phrase "walking in the footsteps of his father". It is also possible that he held a kherep sceptre in one hand, which was skilfully removed.
The main column of text states: "Inspector of the king's house, honoured by the king, Nyankhnefertem".
The son's text identifies him as: "His eldest son, his beloved, the wab-priest of the Great House, Meruka".
Karol Myśliwiec analysed this peculiarity of the father's and eldest son's overlapping feet, see bibliography). Only the eldest son, Meruka, has the privilege of being seen with his feet sometimes being overlapped by those of his father (see LXXIXb
). His rear foot seems to emerge from that of his father, which means that he represents the living Ka, reincarnation and successor of the deceased. This theme, as well as the resemblances in the representations of father with elder son are common in the 5th dynasty, and even more in the 6th. This is a way of showing that these two people are, in some way, of the same substance or essence, and thus establishes a clear family hierarchy, as intended by the deceased. The popularity of these scenes can be linked with the political and social disorder which prevails at the beginning and the end of the 6th Dynasty, and the occupying search for order and security.
Scene 6, scene 7 and scene 8
Continuing now with the southern set of scenes, the representations of which remain based on the same model. In all of these three cases, Nyankhnefertem is accompanied only by his eldest son Meruka, identified all three times as: "His eldest son, wab-priest of the Great House, Meruka".
The main column of text is similar to what has been seen with the northern scenes. Scene 6 has: "Sole companion, privy to secrets of the House of the Morning, Nyankhnefertem", scene 7: "Inspector of the king's house, overseer of linen, keeper of the king's property, Nyankhnefertem" and scene 8: "Inspector of the Great House, honoured by the Great God, Nyankhnefertem".
Only scene 6 has retained any colour. Scene 7, as mentioned above, is the only one where a son holds a piece of cloth in his hand, like his father (see LXXXVII and LXXXVIIb for detail).
Scene 9 (see LXXXVI)
Nyankhnefertem, wearing a long wig and identified as the one "privy to secrets of the king in his every cult-place, Nyankhnefertem.", is accompanied by two sons, Mereri and Tjetji. Both are clothed the same as their father. The treatment of each is significantly different.
Tjetji is at the rear (to the right) and represented much larger than his brother. This is the only son who is found standing at the rear who does not hold the leg of his father, he keeps both arms hanging at his side. His identifying text states that he is "his son, his beloved, functionary and attendant of the Great House, Tjetji". No doubt he was older, more respected and more independent.
Standing in front of his father, this son is merely identified as "his son, his beloved, Mereri".
The east wall is the social and hierarchical business card of the family, the daughters had no place there, but it is certain that Seshseshet, the mother, played an important role.
It is possible to also note there the ambitions and the intrigues among seven brothers. Nyankhnefertem would have had no doubts about the fact that his designated successor, his eldest son Meruka, would actually inherit his position and his duties, otherwise he would not have made the effort to show this in the representation on so numerous occasions and so clearly. In addition to the threats which the father felt to smooth for his oldest son, it will be seen that the second son, Tjetji, was also attacked on the north wall. All of this seems to have been done by the younger son, Mereri, whose ambition was probably not apparent until after the death of his father.