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The North Wall



This measures 2.60m wide by 1.9m in height. It has a gaping opening of about 1.15m wide by 1.02m high, caused by the collapse of this wall, which originally separated it from the adjoining funerary shaft. Thus, what remains preserved of the wall is 1.16m to the left and 0.54m to the right (but this is severely damaged).

 The burial shaft, No.89 

This was dug secondarily, but not a very long time after the actual mastaba of Nyankhnefertem, in the second half of the 6th Dynasty. Its opening (1.20m by 1.10m) is close to those of the two other shafts intended for Nyankhnefertem (nos.77 and 52, see XXXVIa). These are discussed in full detail on page 5. Shaft No.89 has a depth of 3.56m. At the base, a funerary niche was created in the west wall, heading southwards, where it is no longer separated from the north part of the chamber by the cracked and brittle 20cm rock wall. A mummy in a reed coffin (see LXVIIIa) was deposited in it, then the shaft was filled with sand, digging rubble and stones, etc.
At the very end of the 6th Dynasty and early First Intermediate Period, an accident occurred. The separating wall, the rock of which was already of very poor quality, due to be weakened even further by the heavy rainfall associated with infiltration of the time. Perhaps the blows of the looters, when they removed the offering table from the west wall, were responsible? Be that as it may, the wall collapsed, and the contents of the shaft and the mummy it contained, poured into the chamber, where much later explorers found it. Here is a view of the chamber BEFORE and AFTER the clearing (the offering table returned to its original position, in front of the northern-most false door).
During the accident, the list of offerings and the top of the lower register were damaged. These were partially restored from the fragments found in the debris.

The entire wall is occupied by a single scene in two registers. It is very original, in a different way: the lower register of porters is carved in raised relief to show that they are in the foreground, whilst the upper register, which contains the seated Nyankhnefertem, is in deep sunken relief, and appears well situated as a related background. This is another attempt to try to make a three-dimensional image.
Each register is surrounded by a incised line which was then painted black. A frieze was supposed to surround the entire wall at the top and on the right and left sides. Its white background was applied everywhere, but only the upper part had a pattern representing a stylised lotus flower, which actually consists of only three black branches (see CIII detail). The rest of the wall has a black background, except at the far right where the colour was not applied.

  The upper register 

 Left-hand section 

Nyankhnefertem sits on a low-back seat, the legs of which are in the shape of those of a bull, each resting on a solid cone for protection. He wears a long wig and a short beard. Although this is difficult to assess on a photo, the face is well detailed, the eye is elongated, the almost straight eyebrow is thick and the cheek is smoothly curved. Around his neck, a necklace made of successive rows light blue and dark blue beads, is in stark contrast with his dark red skin (see CVA). The kilt is poorly preserved, and the yellowish layer of mortar, which was used to prepare (and repair) this area, can be seen. His left hand is folded across his chest, whilst the right hand touches the table in front of him.
From lack of space at ground level, the foot of the offering table in front of him is raised and appears to float in space. Half-loaves of bread stand vertically on the top of the table. On either side of the support stand of the table is a classic list of offerings. On the left side: "a thousand alabaster vases, a (thousand) pieces of linen, and on the right: "a thousand t-breads, a thousand pAt-breads, a thousand (jars of) beer, a thousand oxen, a thousand birds".
At the top of the area is the title text of the deceased, written in four columns in front of him: "Inspector of the king's house, he who is loved by his lord, inspector of the Great House, privy to secrets, honoured by the Great God, Nyankhnefertem", and a single row above his head: "sole companion, inspector of the Great House".

 Right-hand section  (see CVI)

• The list of offerings (a tabular list)
This occupies a rectangle 1.75m long by 0.68m high, the central area is missing due to the hole in the wall. Its background is white, with monochrome hieroglyphics, whose beautiful cobalt blue colour is the best preserved of the chamber. The list is divided into three rows of rectangular units. Each row is 0.22-0.23m high, and each unit is 0.05-0.055m wide. Each unit consists of two parts: a large rectangle at the top, which describes the offering or rite, and a smaller one below for the quantity. Because of the damaged gap, the exact number of columns it is not known, but is estimated at 31. Thus there are oils, breads, drinks, beer, pieces of meat, libations, and incense, including an entry which just states: "the best of the offering table". The item listed in the first column of the top row (top left) reads "pouring water: 1 vessel", whilst immediately to its right it reads "incense of fire: 1 censer" (see the image right).

• Under the list, is a sub-register of 1.87m long and only 0.20m high, largely destroyed at the centre. The surviving piece on the left it is placed on a black background. On this left section can still be recognised a small rectangular table with a middle cross section, painted black surrounded by yellow, on which are placed two sets of vessels for washing hands, each consisting of a srwtj-basin and bzmnjj-ewer, (see the bottom of the image to the right, under the list).
On the other side of the gap is a short segment which seems never to have been painted (see CVI detail). Seen on the left is part of the vessel which appears to contain open lotus flowers and buds; according to Schafer, this does not mean that the vase actually contains flowers but represents the decoration of the edge of the vase or the relief from the inside of the container. Then come five tapered rolls arranged head to tail, their exact nature remains uncertain (perhaps flax or loaves of bread?). Finally, a small offering table concludes (or starts!) the line.

 Lower register 

Measuring 2.50m long by 0.30m high, it is damaged in its upper area. The register shows a procession of twelve men carrying various offerings to the tomb owner represented in the register above. They are shown walking towards the west (to the left). It extends under the chair in which Nyankhnefertem, for whom the offerings were intended, is seated. Each character transports an offering and comes with a small legend, carved in low relief and sometimes barely incised. Like the upper register, the background of the bottom one is also black (now looking dark blue), but the colour was not applied on the right-hand side.


Move the mouse pointer off and on the image to see the damaged areas on right and left!

This is introduced on the left (west) by a short column of hieroglyphs: "Bringing the choice pieces from, the front leg (khepresh) and birds".
Then, separated by a black line, comes a procession of twelve people moving to the left. As mentioned previously, they are treated in raised relief to try to give a three-dimensional look to the full display area. They are superimposable: each is wearing a short wig and carrying around his waist a small tight-fitting white kilt.
• The first two bring a choice piece, the front leg of a large animal (cattle, gazelle, ibex, etc.) (see CIXa). The first is identified as "his eldest son, inspector of the king's house, Meruka" followed by "his son, of his body, his beloved, Mereri". The epithet "of his body" is unique and suggests that there were some doubts on the issue. Note also that the hieroglyphs of unequal size and layout.
• The following five each bring a goose which they hold in both hands. These are: "his son, under-supervisor of the Great House, Djawy", "his son, his beloved, Tjetji" and "His son [...]shepes [...] Mereri" but here there are also alterations: the first part of the text is engraved, second part is only painted, confirming the existence of problems with one or both of the youngest sons named Mereri. Next comes "the ka-servant, butler, overseer of linen, Djawy" and then "the director of the dining-hall Imaheni".
• These are then followed by two "servants of the ka, under-supervisor of the Great House" Sobekhotep and Nefer, followed by three who are only identified as "servants of the ka", Iyherdjefaw, Shafi and Temi, five of whom carry between them various offerings (see CVI).

The South Wall



Move the mouse pointer off and on the image to see the damaged areas

This features a large scene of 2.66m long and 1.14m high, divided into four regions: a seated couple (the deceased and his wife) at the upper right facing two registers, with another register at the bottom extending the length of the decorated area.
Surrounding the image area, between the ceiling and the right and left sides of the wall, is a border 5 to 8cm, in which can be seen parts of the original wall surface. The undecorated area (or dado) of the lower wall is unusually high (0.65 m), the irregular surface of which bears extensive evidence of chiselling, partly levelled with white-grey-pinkish lime mortar, fragments of which have fallen almost everywhere.
The creation of the decoration posed major problems, because the rock here is of a very poor quality and cracks, including a particularly large one of 5cm which crosses the wall vertically in its western part, approximately 0.70m from its western edge. In the upper part, the crack continues diagonally toward the ceiling, where it widens. To remedy this situation, the artisans applied thick layers of a pinkish mortar (different from the first one).
The wall is incomplete and it never received its painting and the engraving is not at the same stage on the three horizontal registers. There is also a difference in the quality, as will be found also the west wall. Everything suggests that the same master and apprentice even worked on this wall.

 The seated couple  (see CXXI detail)

The scene is set in an almost square panel (0.90m by 0.88m) treated in sunken relief, unlike the rest of the wall which is in raised relief.
The couple, Nyankhnefertem and his wife, are seated side by side, their backs supported by a long thin pillow which is folded over the small bench backrest. Seshseshet, wearing a large tripartite wig, embraces her husband with one hand over his right shoulder and with her other hand on his left elbow. Nyankhnefertem, wears a wig down over his shoulder and a short beard. He breathes the scent of an open lotus flower which he holds to his nostrils (probably to be interpreted as a poetic allusion to his partial namesake - see below), whilst his other hand rests on his thigh squeezing an object, probably a piece of cloth.

The god Nefertem and lotus flower
His name, Nfr-tm, can be translated as "he who comes to appear perfect". Nefertem plays a central role in the creation myths of the world: the blue lotus (Nymphaea caerulea) is, in this myth, the first thing which emerges out of the waters of Nun (the primordial chaos). When it opens, the sun god appears for the first time. This is beautifully illustrated in the furnishings of Tutankhamun: Nefertem, as the young king, is regenerated out of the open flower (see an object from Tutankhamun's tomb).
The flower has a strong fragrance, which is why Nefertem quickly became the god of perfumes, which it is referred to in the Pyramid Texts (PT 266), as "the lotus flower in front of the nose of Re".
Nefertem is often represented as a man wearing an open lotus flower, as shown in the representation opposite, which comes from the tomb of Pharaoh Horemheb (photo I.S.), as a young child (sometimes reduced to just the head) placed on the flower. Note the association found of the lotus-Nefertem in Chapter 81 of the Book of the Dead, which begins with "O lotus, this image of Nefertem".
In Memphis, Nefertem will be associated with the triad, with the god Ptah and lion goddess Sekhmet.

The representations have no internal detail, except some details within their faces.
The descriptive text is written in seven columns, starting in front of them and continuing above their heads. There is a clear difference between the first text column, which extends vertically from the top to the level of the feet, and the other six shorter columns.
The first column has hieroglyphs carved in sunken relief with no inner details, having similar dimensions and classical proportions of those found on the false door of the west wall, next to the chamber entry. The text reads: "The funerary priest of the pyramid of Teti, the deputy supervisor of funerary priests of the pyramid of Unas ...".
The inscription continues in the six smaller columns (the first of which is only slightly shorter than the first): "... inspector of the king's house, loved by his lord, inspector of the Great House, privy to secrets, Nyankhnefertem; his wife, loved by him, honoured by her husband, Seshseshet". These hieroglyphs are smaller, the relief shallower, the shape quite irregular and often poorly proportioned. This is particularly true of the sledge-sign "tm", deliberately faulty, as will be found several times on the west wall. The whole text looks as if it was produced by two different people, a master and his apprentice.

 The three registers in front of the couple 

All three registers remained incomplete. The bottom one extends under the chair of the deceased and his wife. The decoration of all three was produced by removal of a layer of stone around the figures, so that they clearly projected from their background. The silhouettes of the characters have only been roughly shaped to varying degrees, from which it is possible to see the different phases of the work.

 Upper register  ( line drawing)

This is the tallest (0.54m). The sculptured outlines are still unrefined, often rectangular, and the guide lines can still be seen in several places, in particular for the details of the faces.
Three papyrus boats (skiffs), with three male figures standing in each one of them, head toward the couple, to whom they bring wild geese from the marshes. The sculptor's work is at best preliminary, and several representations of black and red guide lines are still visible on the polished wall. The smoothing of the wall, particularly irregular in this area, was completed in mortar, but large fragments have broke off.
In the front and at the rear of each skiff are nearly naked men who manoeuvre it with a long pole. When each group is identified, it is with the qualifier "hunter of birds". In the middle of each boat is a character whose representation reflects the abundance of the catch. He is plump, rounded chest and a belly suggesting an opulent lifestyle of higher social rank than the mariners. This man is clothed in a long kilt with a rectangular, diagonally projecting front. In each hand, he clutches (by the wings) several geese. The first and the third of these men are designated as "overseer of fowling". Some of the fowl are also represented in cages, one on the first and third skiff, two on the middle one. On two of the cages is perched a goose: one guesses it agitating the wings (see several examples of the geese on the image of the central skiff). The boats float on the Nile or on a canal. The water on which they float would have been represented by zigzag lines on a blue background, but, at this stage, the draftsman had delimited the zone (7cm in height) by two horizontal lines and the zigzag water lines were not produced.

 Middle register  ( line drawing)

This measures 0.28m high and 1.75m long. Again, the left has largely been coated with a pinkish mortar, which was used to trace the preliminary guides lines. The decoration is more advanced than the upper register, but no figure was completed. The engraver gave up working on the mortar and therefore the last 30 centimetres from the left end were not decorated. There are seven characters, fairly well preserved, all bearers of offering, who head towards the couple. They remain unfinished, but are more advanced than those of upper register.
• First group (see CXXII detail)
Two women lead the procession, each designated as "His daughter, his beloved, the king's acquaintance Khenut (1) and Metjut" (2). Then a man, probably a son of the deceased, remains anonymous. These three characters bring not only birds but also lotus stems.
• Second group (see CXXII detail)
Separated from the first group by a small space, this second one is made up of four men. They have short-cropped hair and short, tight-fitting kilts. Each carry two geese, but in each their posture is different. Being devoid of text, it is impossible to known if they represent any of the sons of the tomb owner.
• On the left, the register ends with a thick red vertical line drawn on the mortar.

 Lower register  ( line drawing)

This measures 0.30m in height and occupies the entire width of the wall (2.69m), passing under the seated couple. It shows some scenes the festival attended by the seated couple. With the majority (left) of the register having the participants facing right (towards the couple) and those under the couple facing left, it positions the couple at the centre of the celebration. In this register the etching was completed, there is no trace of guide lines. Thus, all that remained was the application of colour, which has not even been started.
From left to left to right, is found:
• First group (see CXXII detail)
This consists of nine females, two "singer(s)", who beat time, and in front of them are seven "dancer(s)". The seven dancers advance, arms raised above their heads, one foot off the ground. Each wears a broad skirt with projecting front and each has a long pig-tail with a pom-pom at the end. They sway to the rhythm of the dance. The breasts of the dancers is produced for only one dancer, posing again the question of the place of the erotic imagination of the Egyptians. But perhaps they are pre-pubescent girls?
• Second group (see opposite)
Then come a group of four squatting musicians composed of two similar couples, each consisting of a harpist (facing left) and a chironomist (facing right) thus facing each other, each pair is designated as "Rhythm-giver and singer". From the image it is obvious that the chironomist (on the left) is a man, extending his left hand towards the harpist, a woman, and holding his right hand to his ear. The holding of a hand to the ear whilst chanting is still done today. This area was originally coated with a thin layer of pinkish mortar, the surface of these four figures, like that of the closest group of dancers, has suffered much due to salt efflorescence forming a petrified surface.
• Third group (see CXXII detail)
At the right-hand end of the image, a dwarf moves to the left. He is designated as "their master", in the text above his head, indicating that he is in total charge of the two animals which he has on leashes, a monkey (above) and a dog named "iaXi" (written above it). These are certainly the two favourite pets of the deceased. They are represented one above the other, as if the monkey is suspended on an imaginary soil line.

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