The south side (left)
This is to the left of the entrance and measures 2.88m long, with a variable height due to the irregularity of the floor, from 1.92m high (near the entry) to 1.78m (at the left corner of the chamber). The wall is decorated, but almost no colour applied, to a length of 2.63m and a height of 1.68m, leaving a blank undecorated area all around it. A blank zone of 0.23m separates it from the entrance (damage here has been badly repaired in recent times, see XXXVIII). A 0.10m blank area extends up the southern edge and above the top of the display. At the bottom, the display is separated from the floor by a 0.20m blank strip.
The decoration (see line drawing) was designed as a single image composed of elements carved on four levels of depth, showing two false doors side by side, without a vertical separation zone, but with an overlap which benefits the one of right, making it wider than the one on the left. In contrast to what was seen on the north side of the west wall, there are no projections resembling an offering table at the foot of the false doors.
The total group includes a horizontal lintel, three vertical pillars and two intermediate spaces each occupied by a false door, giving an appearance reminiscent of the Gardiner hieroglyphs O22 and O27, but with a lack of symmetry. Indeed, the central pillar is the external doorpost of the northern false door (width: 1.46m), which has three vertical posts on either side of its "open" centre, whilst the southern false door (width: 1.17m), has three posts on the left, but only has two on the right: it is as if this missing post has been hidden behind the one of the north one. This sounds complicated, but it becomes clear on looking at the photo above and this line drawing where the overlap is shown in yellow.
The surface of the upright doorposts and lintels, etc. were produced at a deeper level towards the centre, with four levels for each door.
The surface plane of the second level is 2cm deeper than the first, which has two upright doorposts (extending up to the upper lintel) connected by the central lintel, forming an "H" (see CXII for detail).
The area inside the upper part of the "H" (above the inner lintel) is a further recessed area (1.5cm) forming the decorated panel. In the lower part are two more uprights also recessed to the same level as the panel. Between these two innermost uprights is the even further recessed (2.5cm) passageway for the ka, spanned at the top by a rolled up mat.
Northern false door (right)
Clearly, this was considered the most important of the two.
The six upright doorposts
These are arranged symmetrically about the central axis, three on each side, bearing vertical inscriptions and, at the bottom, a representation of the deceased above whom is his name. The differences from one to the other suggest that at least two people worked on them. In all cases, he wears a short beard, flared at the bottom, a necklace, and a kilt with a projecting triangular front. On the external and innermost doorposts Nyankhnefertem wears a short rounded wig, holding in one hand a kherep sceptre across his chest and in the other a folded piece of cloth. On the other two, he wears a longer wig which extends down to his shoulders and holding in front of him his long staff of office, and the other hand hangs at his side clutching a folded piece of cloth.
The three left doorpost representations are by the same artist and are of average quality with very few details. With those of the right side (see the image opposite), the figure of the middle doorpost is in stark contrast to all the others: the engraving is deeper, the facial features are better produced and there is more detail in the hieroglyphs: this is the work of a master/teacher, probably the model intended for his pupil(s?).
In contrast, his staff is very poorly executed: no variation in thickness, no bulge at the end: everything indicates a rather clumsy hand. Was it to show disapproval in the quality that someone cut the staff in this doorpost with several horizontal irregular cuts?
Above each of the characters where he holds the long staff he is inscribed with the name "Nyankhnefertem", but on ones where he holds the sceptre he is identified as "Temi". Note that the hieroglyph "tm", of the sledge, has been reversed in all instances except in the case of the middle doorpost on the right. Why this inversion? As will be discussed below, it is not about a mistake, but of a deliberate act.
All hieroglyphs are carved in sunken relief (0.5cm) but are seldom detailed, except the sign "Hr", representing a male face looking forwards. It occurs five times in the titles of this false door, but the one on the right middle doorpost is treated with greater care and precision (see line drawing). As with the face of the image of the tomb owner, carved below it, this sign was probably another model created by the master sculptor.
Normally, when actually coloured, the skin, contrary to what would be expected, is the female yellow colour (see CXXXIII, taken from the bottom line of text of the upper lintel of the false door on the north side of the wall). The hieroglyph "tp", which is a again modelled as a male face, but in profile, is in dark red. The colours of these two glyphs do not vary throughout Egyptian history
• The upper lintel
(1) "An offering which the king gives and Anubis, that he may be buried in the necropolis in the Western Desert, after he has become exceedingly old, (2) (namely) the sole companion, inspector of the king's house, privy to secrets of the king in his every cult place, Temi".
The inscription, runs from right to left, ending with a representation of the seated deceased, located at the intersection of the lintel and the top of the left outer doorpost. This image could also be considered as a determinative to the name which precedes it. The representation is similar, but in reduced size, to that which is on the north wall. Temi, wearing a long wig, sits on a seat with the usual animal legs, holding his staff with one hand whilst in the other, placed on his thigh, he holds a piece of cloth.
• The right (north) external doorpost
"God's servant of the pyramid of Unas, inspector of the Great House, inspector of the king's house Temi".
• The left (south) external doorpost
"Inspector of the Great House, overseer of linen, honoured one by the Great God, Temi".
• Both middle doorposts
These, unlike the doorposts on either side, are inscribed in two columns, with the deceased's name written horizontally below them.
(1) "An offering which Osiris gives, that invocation offerings may come forth for him on every festival, every day eternally, (2) (namely for) the sole companion, inspector of the king's house, privy to secrets of his god on every day, (3) Nyankhnefertem".
• Both inner doorposts
"Inspector of the Great House, privy to secrets, Temi".
• The small inner lintel
"Inspector of the king's house, honoured one, Temi".
The panel between the two lintels
This measures 0.34m high and 0.37m wide. To better highlight the actual central panel, it was edged on either side by a deeply recessed (1.5cm) uninscribed column. The deceased is seated at a table supporting stylised upright halves of bread. At the centre, the two halves are attached, giving the image of a tree, which marks a late development of the motif (Cherpion). Under the table, on the right-hand side of the support, is a set of two vessels used for washing hands. Nearest to the deceased's legs is found a short list of offerings: "a thousand [...], a thousand (jars of) beer". Above the table, in front of his head, is written: "Inspector of the Great House, Temi".
Southern false door (left)
This was conceived as a copy of its northern neighbour. However, there are several important differences:
The quality of execution is not as good. There is also a constant degradation in quality from north to south of the wall: everything seems to have been done in a hurry and without care.
What would have been the outer right doorpost has "disappeared" under the south outer one of the northern false door, but the now right-most could still be considered as the central doorpost.
The representations are smaller, as also are the hieroglyphs in the texts: this is understandable because the content of these texts is longer.
Nyankhnefertem is never alone at the bottom of the doorposts: he is either accompanied by his wife or his eldest son (see CXVII for detail, which includes the overlapping zone). Seshseshet is present on the two left outer doorposts and on the now right-most one. No doubt she would have been present on the right outer one if it was not "masked" by the one which overrides it. There is a small difference: the two images on the left show the wife with her arm around the neck of the deceased while the other hand grabs his elbow, whilst on the one instance on the right she still has her hand on her husband's shoulder but the other hangs at her side. In all instances she is shown at the same height as her husband. The eldest son, Meruka, is present on the two inner doorposts, portrayed small when compared with his father's image, he is shown gripping the staff of office held by the deceased. Note that the son's back foot is completely covered by that of his father. This has already been discussed previously.
The representations of Nyankhnefertem are remarkably superimposable. He wears a long wig, a beard, a loincloth with a projecting triangular front-piece and a necklace. He holds his staff of office in one hand and a piece of folded cloth in the other. His wife wears a large tripartite wig and a tight fitting dress. The son wears (from what can be seen) a kilt like the one of his father.
In each case these occupy two lines or columns, except on the small inner lintel (see the left side of the yellow column in the line drawing). The signs are in less sunken relief than those of the northern door, only an average of 2mm (instead of 5mm). Most do not have engraved interior detail.
The "tm" hieroglyph (Gardiner u15) is this time not only in reverse, but oversimplified and distorted: the vertical bars of the sledge have disappeared, the rear has become rounded and the knot has slipped towards the rear, undeniably, this makes it close in shape to that of the phallic hieroglyph (Gardiner d52).
It was with deliberate obscene intention that an engraver, whose incentive will remain a mystery forever, distorted this sign on this false door where the deceased is represented in company of his wife. There is no doubt that Nyankhnefertem was dead at that time, but why did the other family members do nothing? Hatreds and rivalries may have been even worse than can be imagined.
• The upper lintel
The text is written from right to left in two rows (top row first), with the deceased's name written vertically in front of his seated image. (1) "An offering which the king gives and Anubis, Foremost of the Divine Booth, that he may be buried in the necropolis, after he has become exceedingly old, (2) (namely) sole companion, inspector of the Great House, inspector of the king's house, privy to secrets, honoured by the Great God. (3) Nyankhnefertem.".
• The left (south) external doorpost
Here the texts of the two columns refer individually to the deceased and his wife, each being above the respective person: (1) "An offering which Osiris gives, foremost of Busiris, that an invocation offering may come forth for him on festivals, (namely for) the inspector of the Great House, Nyankhnefertem (2) (and for) his wife, his beloved, praised by him, honoured by her husband, the king's acquaintance, priestess of Hathor Lady of the Sycamore, Seshseshet".
• The two middle doorposts
The text on these two are identical for the deceased but they differ slightly for his wife; her's also includes a statement to her husband. That for the deceased states: "Inspector of the king's house, majordomo of the king's house, privy to secrets of the king in his every cult-place, Nyankhnefertem". On the left (south), for the wife: "An offering which the king gives and an offering which Anubis (gives) Foremost of the Divine Booth, (namely) that he may be buried in the necropolis (and also) his wife, his beloved, king's acquaintance, Seshseshet". On the right (north), for the wife: "An offering which the king gives and an offering which Anubis (gives), (namely) that he may be buried in the necropolis (and also) his wife, his beloved, king's acquaintance, Seshseshet".
• The two inner doorposts
On these two doorposts the columns of text are identical, with the content being a single continuous statement, ending with the name of the father. The son is identified above him, between his father and his staff. (1) "Sole companion, privy to secrets of the House of the morning, he who is loved by his lord, (2) inspector of the king's house, inspector of the Great House, the majordomo, Nyankhnefertem.
(3) "His eldest son, Meruka".
• The small inner lintel
(This is the horizontal bar of the "H" shape) : "Inspector of the king's house, sole companion, Temi.".
The panel between the two middle lintels
This time the panel, although a similar size to the one of the false door to the right, actually contains the seated image of the deceased and his wife. The couple are seated on a single large chair, the front leg of which is shown between the legs of the couple. The wife is shown embracing her husband. Once again the panel is bordered on the two sides by a sunken uninscribed column. The table in front of them has a single support and contains upright half loaves on top. This time there are no offerings below the table. Two short columns of text above loaves state: "Inspector of the king's house, Temi". A single horizontal line above their heads states: "his wife Seshseshet".
As mentioned in the introduction, on page 1, two shafts had been dug from the mastaba area which surmounted the tomb of Temi. The actual mastaba, of which almost nothing remains, rested on a layer of rubble, into which the shafts had been dug, before reaching the solid rock beneath.
These two shafts served different purposes: one was funerary (shaft No.77), the other ritual (shaft No.52).
Shaft No.77 (see XXXIXc and the line drawing)
The entry opening is a square of 2.25m on each side. The shaft penetrates into the ground to a depth of 10.10m (of which 8.30m was dug into solid rock). The irregular base of the shaft gives access to a rectangular room of 5.32m wide (N/S) by 3.31m across (E/W) and 1.91m in height. A funerary pit had been hollowed into the floor of this chamber, on the west side, and was surrounded by an architectural feature, producing the image of a buried sarcophagus. The pit was covered with a stone lid on to which is inscribed the name of Temi.
A fragmentary skeleton was found in the pit, but it is unlikely that it that of Nyankhnefertem. Indeed, this deceased was accompanied by pottery dating from the time of Pepy II (the end of the 6th dynasty). An unusual detail is that this deposit also contained green painted stones. Some bricks with a white face probably came from blocking entry, the latter having been, once completed, on its outer face.
Shaft No.52 (see line drawing)
This opens up 0.95m to the south of the previous one and is only 5.10m deep. All indications are that, originally, it was a ritual shaft of Nyankhnefertem, to collect the remains of the funeral banquet and debris from the ritual breaking of the red vases. Later however, a niche was dug 1.4m into the east side, with an average height of 0.8m, the floor of which was located 0.65m from the bottom of the shaft. This was for a secondary burial and the skeleton of a deceased was still found in situ. The pottery found in the filling, was mainly of beer jars, one still containing ashes characteristic of this type of deposit from in the reign of Pepy II.
Thus, the two shafts of the complex of Nyankhnefertem were reused as early as the end of the 6th dynasty.
Conservation of the tomb
It poses much the same problems as that of its neighbour Merefnebef, but it is even more vulnerable. To protect this fragile monument, it is essentially necessary to stabilise the climatic conditions in the tomb complex.
For this, a protective shelter has first been installed, which covers the entire monument. Conservation methods were selected taking into account various factors, including annual observations, and information to be collected on a recording device which is permanently in position even when the Polish mission is not there.
For the phenomenon of disintegration of the reliefs to be controlled, the extreme brittleness and salinity of the rock will necessitate permanent (annual) care, to reduce cracking, chipping and salt efflorescence.
| The work presented above is based on the publication "Saqqara IV, The Funerary Complex of Nyankhnefertem" by Karol Myśliwiec and Kamil O. Kuraszkiewicz published by ZAS PAN and Wydawnictwo Neriton, Warsaw, 2010.
Other books and articles were also consulted :
• BARGUET Paul : Le Livre des Morts des anciens Égyptiens, Cerf, 1987
• BRUNNER-TRAUT, E : Aspective. Epilogue in SCHÄFER, H, Principles of Egyptian Art, p.421-446, Griffith institute, Oxford, 1986
• CARLOS MORENO GARCIA Juan : La gestion sociale de la mémoire dans l’Égypte du IIIe millénaire: Les tombes des particuliers, entre emploi privé et idéologie publique, IBAES VI, p. 215-242, Londres, 2006 / Consulter
• CHAUVET Violaine : The conception of private tombs in the late old Kindom, Ph Thesis, John Hopkins University, Baltimore, 2004
• CHERPION Nadine : Mastabas et hypogées de l'Ancien Empire. Le problème de la datation. Connaissance de l'Égypte ancienne, Bruxelles, 1989
• KANAWATI Naguib, WOODS Alexandra : Artists in the Old Kingdom. Techniques and achievements, Supreme Council of Antiquities, Cairo, 2009
• KURASZKIEWICZ Kamil : Remarks on the development of the Old Kingdom necropolis, PAM XV, p. 123-125
• KURASZKIEWICZ Kamil : More remarks on the development of the Old Kingdom necropolis, PAM XVIII, p.165-173
• MONTET Pierre : Les scènes de boucherie dans les tombes de l'ancien empire, BIFAO 7 (p41-65), Le Caire, 1910
• MYŚLIWIEC Karol : Saqqara I, the tomb of Merefnebef (2 vol), Neriton, Varsovie, 2004
• MYŚLIWIEC Karol : Fefi and Temi, posthumous neighbours (sixth dynasty, Saqqara), ASAE, supplément, 34 (II), Studies in honor of Ali Radwan, p.197-211, Le Caire, 2005
• MYŚLIWIEC Karol : Father and eldest son's overlapping feet, an iconographic, CASAE 40, Studies in honor of Edward Brovarski, p. 305-334, Le Caire, 2010
• MYŚLIWIEC Karol : The mysterious Mereris, sons of Ny-Ankh-Nefertem (sixth dynasty, Saqqara), ASAE supplément, Studies in honour of Naguib Kanawati, 38 (II), p. 71-91, Le Caire, 2010
• (The) Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt, American University of Cairo Press, 2001
• PIACENTINI Patricia : Les scribes dans la société égyptienne de l'Ancien Empire I. Études et mémoires d'égyptologie 5, Cybèle, Paris, 2002 ( gizapyramids)
• ROBINS Gay : Proportion and style in Ancient Egyptian Art, Thames & Hudson, 1994
• SCHÄFER Heinrich : Principles of Egyptian art (notamment p 137 - 144) Griffith Institute, Oxford, (with additions) 1986
• STRUDWICK Nigel : The administration of Egypt in the Old Kingdom. The highest titles and their holders, KPI, London, 1985
• VAN WALSEM René : Sense and Sensibility. On the Analysis and Interpretation of the Iconography Programs of Four Old Kingdom Elite Tombs, IBAES VI, p. 297-332, Londres, 2006/ Etana
| Original pages created by Thierry Benderitter
Text by Thierry Benderitter
English pages by Jon J Hirst
Photographs, plans and drawings adapted from
Saqqara IV, The funerary complex of Nyankhnefertem
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