THE CHAPEL - continued


(see )

(See , )
This wall is divided into two areas of unequal size. The largest is on the left, showing Iasen monitoring agricultural activities; the smallest is on the right, showing him on a frail skiff in a thicket of papyrus.

Iasen monitoring the agricultural activities

On the left stands Iasen (see )
He stands leaning on a staff with his right hand on the top and his left arm wrapped around it. He is dressed in a kilt with a prominent front. He has a rounded wig and a short beard. Above him is the following text: "Viewing the ploughing, the royal acquaintance, Iasen". However, there is no ploughing on any of the three registers in front of him.

In front of him, the wall, as already stated, is divided into three registers, where curiously most of the men don't face him, but are turned towards the right, that is towards the entry (see ). Each register will be discussed below, starting from the right-hand side, which touches the scene in the marsh.

The lower register

Starting at the right-hand side, there are three cows with large horns. The first (right) has its rear legs bound by a rope which is fastened to its horns whilst it is being milked by a farmhand. The text above the cow merely states: "cow". Her calf is shown next to her front legs and faces the farmhand. The second, named "great cow" licks its right rear hoof, which it has raised, which permits one to see the calf feeding on the cow's milk. The third cow has the text "giving birth" over its back and "a delivery" below its head. It is assisted in giving birth by a drover who is crouched down behind her. Standing in front of her is "the supervisor of the stalls" titled above the cow's horns in brief. He is supported with his left hand resting on his staff, the other is stretched out towards the cow's mouth.
Then comes a man who carries a bag of grain over his shoulder. He is guiding a group of five sheep with twisted horns. Behind the animals are two shepherds who are holding whips aloft with their right hands and stick in their left.

The middle register

Leading the cattle and other farmers in this register is a man who carries a calf. This calf has its head turned towards the rear, probably look for its mother (see ), probably one of the two cows (with and without horns) which precede the bull. The following part of the scene includes two donkeys carrying a large basket or bag, possibly full of ears of corn, on their back. They possibly carry what is being processed in the top register immediately above them. Each donkey is accompanied by a man who supports the sack and a one who follows each animal who has both hands raised holding a long stick to make the animals keep walking forwards.

The upper register

The right-hand side of the register shows the activities of the drovers at the end of the work day. An "ox of the marsh" is laying down on the ground. In front, this part of the register is sub-divided. On the bottom sub-register, in front of the ox, a squatting man feeds a young bull which has a muzzle on its head and a blanket over its back. Behind them, two men prepare the dough (for bread?) and behind these two is a young boy who offers a bowl (of milk?) to his superior. This man is seated on a wicker seat or backrest and holds a long cane which rests on his shoulder. On the next sub-register, above, on the right section, are three calves (one standing and two stretched out facing each other). To the right are two squatting men, facing each other, pulling the flax strands (?). Above this a shorter subregister containing bags of grain and a chest.

The left-hand side is dedicated to grain. On the left are three men reaping the wheat with sickles. On the right are two farmers with scoops and a large pile of grain, above which is the text: "heaping up the threshing floor". This will then be transported by the donkeys in the sub-register below.

Iasen in the papyrus swamp : the "seshesh uadj" scene (sSS wAD, according to MDC)

From the Old Kingdom, can be found five types of scenes which happen in the marshes: boating for pleasure, hunting the waterfowl, fishing with a harpoon, hunting the hippopotamus (a rare scene) and an activity named "seshesh wadj" ("pulling papyrus"), which is the one that is found here, with Iasen. It represents a much rarer representation in the tombs of individuals than those of hunting and fishing with a harpoon. It represents the combination of a character (man or woman) standing on a papyrus skiff which is floating on a band of water located in a thicket of papyrus. The undergrowth, which is extremely high and would actually surround him, forms the background of the scene.
To the right of the scene (see ), is a column of text which describes it: "Pulling papyrus for Hathor in the marshes, by the tenant-farmer, Iasen".
The translation of the first two words remains in debate, possibly being: to sort out, to pull, to extract or to crumple the papyrus. Numerous interpretations have been proposed.
Hartwig Altenmüller says in his article, that we see here the master of the tomb at the time of him throwing a stem of papyrus, which he would have pulled from those around him. It would be about a representation of a link with the myth of Osiris and Seth (which already exists in the texts of pyramids). The deceased is linked with Horus; raised (brought up) by his mother Isis in the swamps of Khemis, in the Delta, he must prove his strength before leaving it to triumph over his enemies.
Alexandra Wood, in his review article of 2011, rather tends to consider that it represents a ceremony or a Hathoric ritual (but not reserved to the priests of Hathor), which would be confirmed in the case of Iasen by the inscription which accompanies the scene. The rustling of the papyrus would produce an identical rattle sound to that of the naos-shaped sistrum, the sacred instrument which was closely linked to the cow-goddess Hathor, even in the Old Kingdom. This noise was supposed to attract the goddess out of the marsh so that she can take him into her womb and re-give birth to the deceased. The ritual may have formed part of a pilgrimage to several sites in the Delta. It could be followed by a visit by the deceased to his tomb at the time of the introduction of some items of the funeral equipment and thus may represent a unique event in his life.

Initially reserved for the mastabas of members of the Royal family (including women, like Meresankh III), the scene occurs for the lesser ranking characters (such as Iasen) from the reign of Niuserre (middle of the 5th Dynasty), whilst also appear the representations of hunting and fishing also in the marshes; the two types of scenes can coexist (for example that of Mereruka) but are never closer together. The scene disappears from the tombs after 6th Dynasty, but persists in the temples, reflecting a change in meaning.

In this one of Iasen, the undergrowth consists of thick and high stems of papyrus which have at the top large petals of the blossoms. The richness of this biotope is shown by the great number of species of birds represented above: hoopoe, kingfisher, etc. and, as often, a dragonfly and a butterfly. On the left, a stem bends under a predator's weight (genet?, a feline animal) which approaches a nest (see ).
The vessel on which Iasen stands is a very light craft, controlled by two men who stand behind him, who are represented on a much smaller scale than him. The first is nearly erased, the second handles a long pole. Iasen, represented in heroic size, is standing on the deck, but alas his image is damaged. With his left hand he bends a stem of papyrus, whilst with his right hand he brandishes a whole stem of papyrus which still contains its ombel, but the stem seems split in length at the other end (see ).
In front of the boat is a young anonymous man, but which should theoretically be the son of Iasen. He stretches out to him several ducks whilst holding them by their wings (see ). Below the craft, a few additional characters were made the object of basic sketches, which are nearly impossible to see today (see ).


This burial shaft (see ) is located in the northwest corner of the chapel. It appears as a square section, with sides of 1.03m width and it descends to a depth of 2.84m. At the base it opens up to the south with an opening of 1.09m in height and 0.70m in width; the upper part of the blockage is still in place (see ). Two fragments of limestone, belonging originally to the miniature chapel situated in the courtyard, were found in the funeral chamber, annexed at the main shaft A. They carry the following text: "[Any] wab-priest or servant of the god who will do an evil thing against this, there will be a judgement against him by the great god".
It leads on to a roughly cut funeral chamber measuring about 2.90 x 2.83 and 1.85m in height. At the west extremity, a sarcophagus had been carved into the rock (2.10m in length and 0.78m in width) and covered by a rounded lid (see ). It contained the skeleton of an adult man, probably Iasen himself.


(See bottom of the , to the left of the courtyard.) It was the object, in 2009, of a long article by P. Der Manuelian: "Penmeru revisited".
The mastaba dates from the end of the 5th Dynasty. It was intended for Penmeru, his wife Merytites, his son Sechemnefer and his daughter Nefersechemes. The four funeral shafts, which have been recovered, contained the human remains, which are possibly (though it is not certain) theirs. Penmeru was royal wab-priest, priest of Menkaure (Mykerinos), supervisor of the priests of the Ka, etc. It has already been seen that architectural links with this mastaba maintains that of Iasen, notably from the west side, of which it forms one of the walls of the corridor, but also to the north through the intermediary of the courtyard (see ).
Also, after returning to the courtyard by the small northwest staircase (see ), it seems interesting to pay a small tribute to Penmeru by turning to the right, and thus along the eastern facade of the mastaba (see and ). At about half its length there opens up a niche, which is reached by a small corridor formed by a facade and parallel walls. A roller has been carved to the level of the ceiling of the niche; it was not inscribed, neither was the lintel and the doorposts which surround the entry.

The niche

This represents the only chapel of the monument, measuring 1.0m wide, 1.6m in depth and 1.5m in height. At the rear is a false door which includes, over the central opening, a panel surmounted by a roller. Again there are no inscriptions (see ).

The wall situated to the left (see ) includes a legal text, the declaration of a testamentary decree, engraved in rather rough hieroglyphs. It mentions someone called Neferhotep and his descendants as persons in charge of the funeral cult which includes the reversion of the offerings from mastaba G5170 of the vizier Sechemnefer III, specifying that no one can modify these arrangements. It would seem that this text was destined to be longer.
The text : "The royal wab-priest, priest of Menkaure, overseer of the Ka-priests, Penmeru. He says: 'as for what concerns (my) brother of (my) funerary estate, Neferhotep, and those who will be born to him by father or mother, they are the Ka-priest of (my) funeral estate, for the invocatory offerings in the tomb of (my) funerary estate which is the necropolis of Akhet-Khufu, as they bring the reversionary offerings of my lord, the vizier Seshemnefer (III). Him (product) of 1 khat field [that I gave to him] as well as to his children. I have not empowered any persons to have authority over it, nor to any (of my) children to have authority". It seems that the following last two lines have been added as a codicil after the marriage of Penmeru to Merytites: "I have not given power to any son (of mine) nor any descendent (of mine) to have authority. He should give 5 pieces of this land to serve as the invocation offering of the king’s acquaintance, Merytites.".

The wall on the opposite site of the niche (see ) was not inscribed, but outside a short inscription was lately discovered.

The serdab

There is a serdab which is in the body of the mastaba, very close to the south wall of the niche. This is mentioned because of the three beautiful statuary groups in limestone which have been discovered there; two are in the Museum of Fine Arts of Boston ( and ) and the third is in the Cairo Museum (ME 43753). Images of the MFA groups and the aforementioned article groups, are online on the site (in the 'search' slot, enter 'Penmeru').