This is the first of four chambers (A3, A4, A5 and A10) grouped on a north-south axis, A5 is undecorated.
The chamber is entered at the east end of its south wall; the connection being with the east end of the north wall of chamber A1.
The entrance doorway is wider at the A1 end, to accept a door which would open into A1. The passageway is 2.4m in height (as are most others in the complex, there are exceptions). It is 1.3m wide at the A1 end and 0.8m at the A3 end. The west wall of the wider (A1 end) is undecorated. The east wall being a continuation of the east wall of the chamber.
Both of the 0.7m long inner walls (A3 end) contain rows of servants preceding into the inner chambers. Those of the east wall being complete, and consist of four rows of four servants each. Of the west wall only the two lower rows are complete along with the lower portion of a third row above them.
The relatively small chamber is approx. 2.6m (south-north) by 3.1m. Its usual height of approx. 4.2m seems out of proportion. All four walls are decorated, but with only the lower portions surviving.
This chamber, like the following one (A4), contains scenes representing the various activities pertaining to the estates. In all cases Mereruka was originally portrayed at the total height of the accompanying registers, although now, in most cases, only his legs have survived.
Mereruka, in large size, faces the entry doorway from chamber A1. Standing in front of him, at a much small scale, is his wife with a lotus blossom to her nose.
[Note: The term "lotus" which we use, for reasons of tradition and convenience, throughout these pages is botanically incorrect. It represents a water lily, and more precisely here its blue variety, Nymphaea caerulea. See the readily available article of Clair OSSIAN, referenced in the bibliography.]
In front of them, each in a single register, are the lower two of several mortuary priests bringing offerings from his estates. Behind them, again each in a single register, are : his eldest beloved son Memi at the bottom and with Mereruka's brother Ihy above him. It would have been interesting to know who stood above these two.
This time Mereruka is followed by his wife, who is displayed at a similar scale. In this chamber, it is only on this wall that he wears sandals on his feet. The couple face north, preceded by groups of three attendants, viewing the hunting scene which completes the larger part of this wall. Only the two lower registers have survived, but this is enough to see that it takes place within a fenced enclosure. On both of the registers dogs are shown attacking antelopes, but in the middle of the lower register a lion is shown attacking a bull (). A scattering of low vegetation can be seen. A narrow sub-register is inserted at top left of the bottom register, again containing vegetation, but among which are two partially hidden hedgehogs, a small antelope and a hare.
Mereruka and his wife Watetkhethor (again of a similar height) face east, towards the exit to chamber A4. In front of them, at a much small scale, is their son Meryteti () ; he wears the sidelock of youth and carries a lotus blossom in one hand and the other he holds a fowl by the wings. Behind the family group is what would have originally been several female servants, each on her own register (). Only the lowest female has fully survived and carries a chest on her shoulders. For a servant she is extremely well dressed; wearing a slim fitting dress with shoulder straps, a broad necklace and wrist adornments. The female above her wears ankle bracelets. There is no identifying text, but could they in fact be daughters ?
More of the final (east) wall of this chamber has survived than on the other walls, despite part of the scenes of the lower southern end having been cut away to possibly create a doorway (not completed).
To the left (), Mereruka, standing at the north end facing south, is accompanied by the smaller scale figure of his wife, who stands in front of him with a lotus blossom at her nose. Except for his head being missing, this figure of Mereruka has survived intact. He wears a leopard skin, which hangs over his triangular kilt. He holds his staff of office in his left hand and a sceptre in his right.
The couple are attended by pairs of officials, five and a half registers of which still survive.
In front of Mereruka and his wife (whose title and names have survived), separated from them by a column of text, the wall is subdivided into several registers showing many craftsmen busy in their various crafts (). The column of text states :
"… for his tomb of the beautiful West, in peace, in peace." (then possibly)
"How happy she is in respect of it.". The texts in the registers include the words spoken by the craftsmen or a short description.
The bottom two registers show metal workers (). Starting with the upper one, they contain : weighing then smelting of gold ore, the pouring of the molten metal and finally (of what survives) the beating of the gold into foil. The lower of the two registers shows the production of collars and pectorals. The left-hand person of the middle pair states:
"This is very beautiful, comrade."; whilst the left-hand one of the couple to their right says :
"Hurry up you, make it happen.". In the intermediate, narrower, register which probably represents a shelf, are finished objects including headdresses, pectorals and collars. A similar shelf appears in the upper of the registers containing a variety of vases, some of which are on stands.
Immediately above the metal working registers is the most complete one (), showing the hauling on sledges with statues of Mereruka towards his tomb. This register possibly represents a street separating two different workshops.
Above the "street" are the remains of three more registers () :
The lower one shows carpenters at work on a bed and two others are occupied with the construction of a chest and its lid.
The middle one shows the production of various vessels, of different shapes and sizes, which are stored in a sub-register (a storeroom ?) above. The conversation is: (left)
"Hurry up, you.", (right)
"This nXnm-jar is very beautiful.". Next to the potters, two men construct a scaffolding, of which only half survives. This is made of a forked piece, held upright by three stays, supporting a horizontal beam. The character on the right says:
"Press down hard on that pole, (put your) butt on it.".
The upper register, of which only the lower portion remains, has the legs of several characters. From what little remains it is impossible to determine what activity is taking place.
After the wall had been decorated, an opening had been cut at the southern end of this wall (approx. 1.4m high by 0.7m wide), between this chamber and chamber A10. This is now sealed off. It was probably cut during the occupation of chamber A10 by fellahin in more modern times, when the mastaba was in ruins.
This is the second of the group of four chambers and it lies in line, on the same axis as the previous chamber (see plan in chamber A3, above).
The chamber is entered through the south wall, from the north wall of chamber A3. The entrance passageway is again about 2.4m in height, 0.8m wide and 0.7m in depth. This entry was not designed to take a door. Both of its walls are decorated with rows of servants preceding into the inner chambers. The east wall contains three full registers separated by lines of hieroglyphic text, whilst of the west wall only the lower one and half still exist.
It is approx. 6.7m (south-north) by 2.6m. All four walls are decorated, but, with the exception of one upper block on the south wall, only the lower portions have survived. All exit passageways or doorways in this chamber are of the usual 2.4m in height. One is located on the west wall near the entry from A3, three more are located at the northern end of the chamber ().
Mereruka and his wife, both portrayed in large scale, stand facing the entrance from chamber A3. Mereruka holds his staff of office in one hand, this hand has not survived, whilst in his right he holds a sceptre which is partially hidden behind his kilt. As in all scenes of this chamber, neither of them have sandals on their feet.
The detached block, containing the head of Mereruka, may in fact have been misplaced; it could be that it actual belongs on the east wall of chamber A1.
This wall contains, at its southern end, the narrow (approx. 0.75m wide) entrance into chamber A5; and towards the northern end, the slightly wider one giving access to chamber A6. In both cases the entrances were designed for the actual door to be situated in A5 and A6, not in chamber A4.
Only the south wall of the A5 entry is decorated, and originally showed three rows of three servants (only the lower two are complete) bearing offerings in towards A5. Both walls of the entry to A6 are decorated and they again probably displayed three rows of three; two and a half rows on the south and one and half on the north have survived.
Of the first section of wall, to the right of the passageway, only the lower register has survived intact; although portions of the two above exist in part and appear to contain similar scenes. The scene is that of the punishment of village leaders for the non payment of taxes. These headmen have been brought before local tax officials and flogged, the whipping post being shown at the right end of the scene. Scribes located at the left end of the scene record the evidence, (, , and ). Everyone in the scene is named and their official titles given, the wrong-doers will be remembered for eternity.
The next section of the wall (see ) shows Mereruka, in an ankle length dress, accompanied by his wife (at a much small scale, behind him). They look north, towards a scene where mortuary priests (on several sub-registers) offer food before statues of Mereruka ( and ). Almost the whole of the lower two registers have survived. Just behind the statues is the entry to chamber A6.
On the final decorated section of this wall, at the north end, Mereruka again stands facing the entry to chamber A6. The smaller image of his wife stands behind him ().
This wall contains, at its east end, the doorway to chamber A11, built to accept an inward opening door. The entry frame is 1.2m wide and 0.3m deep.
The decoration to the left of the doorway is again that of Mereruka with his wife (similar scale) standing behind him, both facing in the direction of entry into A11. In this and the final image on the west wall, the figure of Mereruka only exists up to his knees.
At its northern end, this wall contains the doorway to chamber A10. It is described more fully below in the description of that chamber.
The images of Mereruka on the wall progress towards the rear of the chamber. The detail of this wall has survived to a greater height than is the case with the other three walls.
The first section (starting on the right - south), covers more than two-thirds the length of the wall, but is best dealt with as two related entities.
The first (nearest to the entrance) shows Mereruka accompanied by his wife (at similar height) followed by several registers of scribes and servants (). Watetkhethor holds her husband's wrist, both facing north. Together they are receiving fish and birds brought to them by fishermen and fowlers of registers facing them.
This central area of the wall is divided into several registers and is related to the image of Mereruka and his wife. In the lowest two registers, fish are shown in great detail being netted. Above these two registers is one showing the catch being carried towards the deceased. This register has only survived at its lower edge. The only indication of fowling is the small surviving part a register at the far upper left of this central area and the partial text placed in front of Mereruka. The fishing scene shows the various methods which the Egyptians practised, from the use of a simple line to the large-scale use of nets and baskets ( and ). The scene also shows a large variety of fish in exquisite detail.
Seated in the boat, at the left-hand side of the next-to-bottom register, is shown Mereruka's brother,
"His brother, the land-tenant and elder of the dockyard, Ihy.". He is eating fish and drinking from a cup held by a servant. This image of Ihy is very different from that found on the south wall of chamber A3; here he is very plump ().
The smaller section, at the north end of the wall, is again of the deceased followed by his wife (at a smaller scale) facing north (). This time he is preceded by and even smaller scale image of his son, Meryteti, who holds a bird in his right hand. Preceding the family group are several sub-registers of servants, one of whom leads a baboon and two dogs.
This is part of the third of the group of chambers which lie to the west of chambers A3 and A4 (see the plan with chamber A3, above).
It is entered through a doorway at the middle of its (chamber A5's) east wall, the entrance having been designed for a door to open inwards into A5. Only the south wall (chamber A4 end) of the entrance leading into the chamber is decorated.
The chamber is approx. 8.0m (south-north) by 2.1m. It has not been decorated.
This, the fourth of the group of chambers, lies to the east of chambers A3 and A4. Its numbering, which seems out of sequence, follows that given in Duell (and Daressy before him), in order not to create confusion with other publications.
It is entered from chamber A4 at the northern end of the west wall. This entry is designed as a doorway with the door opening inwards into chamber A4, but not intruding into it. The recessed area, at the A4 end is approx. 0.8m wide and 0.8m deep. The entry passage from A10 is only 0.5m wide and 0.3m in depth. None of the entry surfaces are decorated.
The design of this entry would indicate an entry into chamber A4, rather than from it; which is now not the case.
The chamber is approx. 10.7m (south-north) by 3.6m, making it the second largest in the mastaba, A13 being the largest. All four walls are decorated, each wall surviving to varying degrees.
This is the first chamber to contain pillars, four in total, all lying on the north-south axis, down the centre of the chamber. There is evidence of four more pillars embedded in the east wall. This best seen directly opposite pillars 1 and 2, only the lower courses of the south end of the east wall remain in situ. Sadly no photographs are available to show this evidence. The horizontal joints of these sections bear no relationship to those of the wall areas between them, whereas in the other chambers the horizontal joints of the courses extend the full length of the walls. There would seem to have been no point in building this particular wall with such vertical sections and is seems obvious that they were standing independently before the wall was built. The fact that they are opposite the pillars indicates that they are the remains of some abandoned feature of Mereruka's mastaba rather than remains of the mastaba of Kagemni. This probably indicates that the chamber may have originally been an east facing pillared portico (an original east entry to the mastaba), eventually closed by the extending of the west side of Kagemni's mastaba.
The idea of this being an entrance portico is further supported by the design of the doorway between this chamber and chamber A4. The decoration of the chamber, however, must have taken place after the change from its original usage.
The deceased is shown seated on a chair, facing towards the entry from chamber A4, holding his staff of office. At his feet squats the diminutive figure of his wife. The front upper part of the portrayal is badly damaged.
Behind him, in what was originally five sub-registers (the upper one almost totally lost) are attendants with the title
"servant of the Ka", four to each register. This title is held by priests given the task of attending the funerary cult. In front of him is first a column of text
"Observing the jubilation of the one honoured by the king, Mereruka, his good name is Meri", then five sub-registers of servants carrying food offerings (six in each register). Towards the left, the upper row is damaged, along with the leftmost servant of the next row down. In the top two registers, the servants bring a variety of fowl and joints of meat; whilst in the bottom three registers, the offerings are carried in panniers suspended from poles across the shoulders. Again, these porters carry the title
"servant of the Ka" before their names ().
The upper surviving part of the wall shows that it contained a kheker frieze. This and the surviving part on the east wall are the only in-situ occurrences of the kheker frieze, the others being on isolated blocks in chamber A13.
Details about this wall possibly having been originally a line of four pillars, has been discussed above, in the possible original use of the chamber.
Although the centre and most of the south end of this wall is lost, the north end contains most of its detail, including a small portion of the kheker frieze.
At the north end of the wall Mereruka stands facing south, toward a ceremonial scene before his statue in a shrine depicted at the opposite end. He holds, as usual, his staff of office and displays a short beard. He is accompanied by his wife (in diminutive form) smelling the fragrance of a lotus flower. They are followed by some of his personnel. These servants of the Ka are all named.
In front of them the wall is divided into five registers. A column of text separates the couple from the five registers:
" (Observing) the jubilation of the one honoured by the king, Mereruka, his good name is Meri". At the height of the bottom two registers, a man carries on his shoulders a large crate containing two spouted vessels. All characters in these registers face, like the deceased, towards the south.
The bottom register begins on the left with six men beating their hands rhythmically; further on male dancers, grouped in twos, execute various figures.
The second register begins with six women beating time; in front of them are individual female dancers, their arms raised above their heads.
The upper three registers again represent "servants of the ka" of the deceased and again they are all named. A column of text spans the three registers, in front of the leftmost rows of ten servants:
"How beautiful is the jubilation for Mereruka, honoured by the gods of the snwt-sanctuary".
The small remaining decoration is at the southern end of the wall. It shows the lower portion of the legs of the statue of the deceased in his shrine. Approaching it are two servants bringing large birds, and in front of them is a small animal.
Mereruka is seated facing east; his wife, squatting next to him, breathes (as usual) the perfume of a lotus flower. Standing behind them and arranged in three rows, are members of his family. In the bottom row are three of his sons Memi, Meryteti and Khenti; above them are six of his brothers.
In front of the deceased the registers are occupied as follows : the bottom register contain servants carrying joints of meat; above them servants carry birds; the next contains vessels of various sizes and shapes, then more servants carrying a variety of goods; and finally, the top register contains amassed offerings. The column of text separating the couple from these registers (incomplete at the top) describes their content:
" (Observing the bringing of) choice pieces, haunches of meat and birds, which are brought by funerary ka-priests of his estate, and those of invocation offerings of bread and beer, being brought to him there".
The entry to this chamber is located at its northern end. At its southern extremity an opening (approx. 1.8m high by 0.6m wide) was probably cut in more modern times, between this chamber and chamber A3; this is now sealed off.
This wall is effectively divided into three scenes.
On the left side is represented a large bed with lion's feet. The upper part of the scene is missing. Next to the small boards forming the edge are shown two men spreading the linen (). Next to the bed (but displayed below it), five attendants (originally seven) wait with their arms across their chest. These all hold the title of
"the overseer of linen". Mereruka moves toward the bed, holding his wife by the hand; they are followed by twelve men, four in each sub-register. The twelve men hold the arms across their chest. Their names, which were drawn in ink, have become erased. Originally there were probably more than just there three surviving sub-registers.
The group of men behind the couple stand with their backs to similar groups of five females who attend Mereruka's wife in the next scene ().
The central scene shows Seshseshet playing the harp for her husband; both are squatting on a couch and Mereruka holds in his hand a small stick and a fly swatter (). Represented below the couch are vases and caskets; the text between the two rows reads:
"First class sealed (things) : golden (necklaces), all (kinds of) ointments and clothing". Women in fives and men in fours, are grouped standing behind their respective mistress and master.
As previously, the group of men stand with their back with the attendees of the next scene, this time groups of four men.
At the right-hand end of the wall Mereruka is shown seated, clothed in the starched kilt; his wife is squatting next to him, at his feet ().
In a poor condition, above Mereruka's head, are the remains of seven columns of text, which contain his names and some of his titles ( and ). The first (right) column having the title
"Inspector of Prophets of the Pyramid 'The-Places-of-Teti-Son-of-Re-are-Enduring'". The last three columns ending with his two names.
Behind him stand several rows of male servants with their arms folded in different ways.
The couple are separated from several registers of servants coming towards them by a column of text which titles the scene:
"Observing the sealed (things) and clothing brought from the residence, as a boon which the king gives for the honoured one, Meri". In the lower register two men hold two pieces of material, followed by four transporting chests and finally two scribes follow them carrying a palette under their arm. The title of this register, written above, describes the scene
"Bringing chests and clothing, which are brought to him from the residence, as a boon which the king (gives) ". In the second register, men hold in their arms large vases of different shapes. Above them, is the description of the scene
"Bringing Hs-vases and vase stands, which are brought to him from the residence, as a boon which the king (gives) ". The characters of the third register transport three chests of linen. The text, along the heads of five of the six men is lost.
A further register existed above these, but only a small fraction has survived.
Of the four limestone pillars which stand inside this chamber, only the two at the northern end have survived. The two at the south end were constructed in modern times to show their original positions and to support the ceiling.
All faces of the two original pillars have survived, almost to full height. The pillars are all stood on plinths. All surfaces have a red background into which is engraved the standing figure and text, in sunken relief. Each pillar shows a standing figure of Mereruka at the bottom, below which is the obligatory undecorated dado area. Above the figure are two incomplete columns of text giving different titles of the deceased. On the north and south sides Mereruka faces to the west, on the east side to the north, and on the west side to the south.