The main chamber is the first of three upper chambers, and there is a lower burial chamber. None is truly rectangular. The main chamber is more or less oblong, aligned on its north-south (right-left) axis. On average its dimensions are 7.10 x 3.35m. The photos above give the impression that the chamber is longer than it actually is. The ceiling, well levelled, is 2.60m above the floor. It is painted red, to emulate the prestigious granite of Aswan.
Entry is made from the doorway previously described, which is at the southern end of the eastern wall. A hole in the ground, on the left of the entranceway, marks the position of a vertical hinge, with the door opening inwards. There is a square hole at the top on the right for the bolt (see ).
On the northern side of the chamber (on the right when entering) there are are two pillars, creating three openings giving access to the second chamber. The left and right entries were probably blocked up after the completion of the decorating of the chapel. Consequently access to the north chamber becomes possible only through the central opening. This was once closed by double wooden doors that swung outwards (i.e. into this first chamber), as evidenced by still visible grooves made by them in the floor.
On the southern side (left upon entry) are three striking, even amazing, niches complete with statuary carved into the wall.
In the western wall opposite the entry, solid zones to the left and right are interrupted by a pillar in the centre between two openings. These openings provide access into the western or offering chamber; this chamber includes the funerary shaft to the burial chamber below ().
The four walls of the main room are decorated entirely with reliefs and inscriptions.
For the most part the decoration is in a good state of repair, even though the paint has often disappeared.
At the top of the walls there was originally a black ornamental border formed from flowers, stylised in the form of tridents (see ). This frieze is preserved along most of the eastern and northern walls, and partially along the western wall.
A wide area, painted black, extends from the bottom of the decorated area to the floor. This is edged at the top with a thick red band topped with a black line. This lower black area is especially apparent on the northern pillars and western wall (see ). This area beneath the decoration takes up about a third of the total height of the wall.
(See .) The portion of the eastern wall illustrated measures 4.24m in length; the upper section is 1.35m in height.
The decoration is divided into sections of unequal length, with no real connection between them. To the left is an image of prince Kawab, taking up practically the full height of the decoration. Next, behind him, and occupying the upper half the height, is a scene showing Meresankh and her mother in a boat. The remainder of the wall is divided into four registers, the lower two of which extend under the boat scene just mentioned.
As already stated, Kawab the son of Kheops, who should have inherited the throne, was the father of Meresankh.
He is depicted as a portly man striding towards the chamber of ten statues, and done so in a manner unrelated to the rest of the scenes on the wall behind him. The representation of him may be realistic: his face, well portrayed, indicates a figure of authority, with a high forehead, fleshy lips and an aquiline nose. It is difficult to decide whether his hair is natural or a wig.
He is shown clad in a large non-pleated kilt descending to below his knees, and wearing a necklace made from rows (blue, white then blue again) of pearls. Draped over this he has a chain of different-sized pearls, terminating in a heart-shaped amulet. In addition he has bracelets on his wrists. According to Dunham:
"Across his chest and under the beads and pendant are traces of the broad diagonal white band of a lector priest". Even with a close-up photograph it is not now possible to identify the band Dunham describes.
In his right hand Kawab is holding a long yellow staff and his left there is a piece of folded cloth.
Above his head is an inscription in six columns:
"Her father, the prince, the king’s eldest son of his body, chief lector priest, director of the divine office, in the service of Duwa, Kawab".
The scene to the right of Kawab occupies the height of two registers (see line drawing for detail). Where one would normally expect to find a royal couple (in this case Meresankh and her mother) seated, looking at the parade of the offerings, here they are standing on a boat in the reeds, carrying out the ritual of taking papyrus stems from the marsh. The columns of text that are in front of, above and behind them, state:
"Her mother, daughter of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Khufu, the great favourite, Hetep-heres. Her beloved daughter, the beholder of Horus and Seth, the great favourite, Meresankh.". the Pharaoh Ay, successor of Tutankhamun, can be found making the same gesture (see ).
Marshes are transitionnal spaces where activities undertaken by the inhabitants of Middle and especially Lower Egypt take place. These are fishing, certainly, of a wide variety and kinds of species of fishes, and the hunting of waterfowl with the aid of throwing sticks or hexagonal nets. However, recreational activities also take place such as jousting by the boatmen. The area that separates the marsh from the dry land is an ideal place for animals to graze. As well, some activities that were reliant on the marshes could only be carried out close to them, such as collecting papyrus, lotus blossoms, and reeds used in the manufacture of various items. All these activities are depicted in the scene portrayed.
Swarming with partially hidden life, the marsh also plays a symbolic role. They represent the aquatic environment associated with the god Nun, the primordial waters. In this setting, which also brings to mind the amniotic waters, the deceased is in the process of inducing the goddess Hathor to come to her. To achieve this result she shakes the papyrus stems, causing the umbels to rustle and make a rattling noise intended to induce the goddess leave the marsh, to the extent that she is attracted onto the very lap of the deceased, Meresankh. This explains why priestesses of Hathor shake sistrums, which produce a similar sound.
The clear text, set out in five lines over the stern of the craft, reads from right to left:
"She pulls papyrus for Hathor in the marshland with her mother. They see every good thing which is in the marsh.".
Queen Hetepheres, wearing a long black wig extending over her shoulder, is clothed in a slim white dress; this reaches down to her ankles, and is held up by broad straps over her shoulders. She has a choker around her neck and a large necklace, as well as bracelets and anklets. Facing to the right, she is shown pulling on papyrus stems with both hands. At her feet, which are naked, there stands an small unidentified boy; he has the childhood braid of hair at the side of his head, and is holding a lotus flower in one hand and grasping the leg of the queen with the other.
Around Meresankh’s short black wig is a decorated headband, fastened at the back with the two ends of the tie hanging down. This is an exception in the decoration of this tomb. She also has a choker about her neck and a large necklace, and bracelets and anklets too. Her long dress, which likewise has shoulder straps, is elaborately decorated below the breast with a beaded-net pattern. She is holding a papyrus stem in her right hand, and with her left she is embracing her mother around the waist.
In the stern of the boat, standing behind Meresankh, there is a boatman steadying the craft with a long black pole, with his head turned to the rear to check the effect of his work. He has a white lotus flower around his neck as well as a white belt from which the end strips in the fastening knot are hanging down. Meanwhile the prow of the craft is penetrating the papyrus undergrowth.
Situated in the wall on which this scene is depicted, and at a point directly above the tall papyrus in front of the boat, there is a narrow opening 53 cm long and 9.5 cm high. This was intended to allow a little light to enter into the chamber. Unfortunately, this feature also encouraged humidity, which resulted in the partial ravaging of the area of the wall below it, so erasing all the colours and detail of the tall papyrus stems (see and line drawing for detail).
Immediately to the right of the marshes scene are two of four registers. The upper two of these reach as far as the entry doorway. The lower two registers extend from underneath the marsh scene on the left to the doorway on the right.
The uppermost register shows a procession of thirteen funerary estates, represented by both men and women, each walking towards the left. Each is identified by a vertical inscription in front; as part of inscription there is the name khufu in a cartouche —except the last one. The skin tone of the men is a deep red while that of the women is a pale yellow. All these figures have large decorated woven baskets, containing several items, balanced on their heads, held up by the right hand in each case. These baskets alternate in colour, yellow and white, the white ones being held by the women in every case except last when it is a male porter who is holding a white one. It is necessary to understand that the goods in each of these funerary farm lands belong to the deceased, and will assure the everlasting nature of the funeral service. The funerary lands are as follows:
"The mansion of Kheops". The woman is carrying a bird in her left arm. This illustration has suffered damage from moisture from the opening at the top of the wall.
"The way Kheops". The man’s empty left hand is hanging by his side.
"The perfect offerings of Kheops". The woman has a stick raised in her left hand and lotus flowers over the crook of that arm.
"Well fed of the ka is Kheops". This man has a small calf in front of him, attached to a rope.
"Creation of Djedefre" (or Radjedef). In the next representation, a woman has a bundle of wooden sticks in her left hand and bag dangling from the same arm.
"The canal bank of Kheops". The man is restraining a hyena with a leash held in his left hand.
"The boat of abundance of Kheops".As with the third figure above, a woman is carrying a bundle of sticks and has lotus flowers over her arm.
"The life of Kheops". A man has a leash in his left hand, tethered to which is a small horned animal.
"The beloved of Kheops". The next woman is holding a goose in the hollow of her left arm.
"Kheops is established on the throne of Horus". The man has nothing in his left hand which is held at his side.
"The field of Kheops". In this next case a woman is carrying a bag suspended from her left shoulder.
"The island of Kheops". Again, another man is simply holding his empty left hand loosely at his side.
"The mansion of the ka".Finally, the man at the right-hand end of the procession, is controlling a gazelle held on a leash, using his left hand.
This scene shows how water birds are captured with a net. Using a trap consisting of a hexagonal net made it possible to capture a large number of birds with a remarkable efficiency. It is difficult to provide a technical explanation of how the trap worked owing to the fact that the various actions needed for the control of the net are crammed into the small presentation here. Although studies of ’hunting using a hexagonal net’ have been provided in several Egyptological manuals, the precise procedure is nevertheless difficult to comprehend.
This particular scene became canonical in the decoration of ancient Egyptian tomb chapels; in fact it may be found in tombs of all time periods. But such a scene is also found elsewhere, such as in the hypostyle hall of the temple of Karnak and in the Ptolemaic temple of Esna.
The scene itself takes place in one the small deep pools that adjoin the marsh, represented as an extent of water with lotus flowers all about. In this characteristic example of abridgement in Egyptian representational art, all phases of the action are shown occurring at the same time. So five men are shown pulling violently on a rope so as to close the net, under the orders of the leader of the hunt. He calls out his instructions, at the same time stretching a piece of cloth. The comment
"Making the trap" (see ) occurs in the last portion of the overhead line of text, reading from directly above his head to the end of the text on the right.Some fowl, fortunate enough to escape, fly off above the net, while a man, on the right, seizes some of the not so lucky. At the far left, revealing the success of the operation, a man is offering two captured birds to the two queen onlookers, . He is identified by the column of text in front of him as:
"The ka-priest, Katjesu". The major part of the line of text above states:
"trapping birds in the marsh".
• Upper: Here, three men are making a yellow papyrus mat with red ties. The text above the man seated on the left, facing to the right, states that he is
"pulling papyrus". The other two men who face one other are
"making a mat".
• Lower: The man on the left, facing to the left, is taking a bird out of a crate. The other two are plucking birds, delicately, using just two fingers, a gesture that appears to indicate that these birds are precious, as often seen in the Old and Middle Kingdom. There is no accompanying text.
In the third register a procession of birds and livestock is seen heading from the doorway towards the left. At the front is a man who is leading the first member of the procession, a crane, by holding its beak in his left hand, his other hand being placed on his shoulder in sign of greeting and respect. Next, a second crane follows the first; both cranes have black necks and detailed wing and feather markings, long legs, and red beaks and eyes. Next come three geese, the first of which is yellow with brown wing markings and a red beak; the following two have lost their colouration. All these birds face to the left, and all are portrayed the same size as the man, the better to display them.
The rest of the register is taken up with three oxen and a calf, each led by its own herdsman. All the men have dark red skin (although the colouring of the first is almost lost), and all are wearing white kilts. The first two have black hair, but the last two are bald. The first of the herdsman is leading his ox by a rope, which he is holding in his left hand, his right arm being placed across his chest (see ). The ox has yellow horns, and its muzzle and eyes are red, while its hide is white with black markings. Above the animal there is an inscription reading
"Bringing an ox of the fields".The second herdsman, with his right hand placed on the rear of the first ox, is leading his animal with his left hand, the colouring of his ox being the same as the first but with larger markings (see ). This time the text states:
"Bringing an ox of the stall". The following herdsman, clearly older, is leaning forwards; his kilt is smaller than those of the two in front of him. His right hand is placed on his left shoulder, and he holding onto the the lead of his animal with the other. The colouring of his ox is mainly red, it has no horns, and although it has no udders the text states:
"A cow of offering". The procession ends with a fourth herdsman, who is bald-headed and bearded, and wearing a smaller kilt with red line markings on a white background (see ). His right hand, too, is placed on the rear of the animal in front. This man is leading his animal, a calf, with his left hand. The markings of this calf are black, and it has has a yellow blanket with red lines on its back. The inscription states:
"Bringing a calf which has been suckled on the finger". This refers to a technique of putting a finger into the mouth of the animal, like a teat, then pouring milk over the finger
The descriptive text states:
"Coming out of the marsh with lotus blossoms, by her workers of the marsh, that they may bring to her everything good which is brought to a noble-woman as work in the marshland". The scene consists of two independent parts.
The two boats on the left, travelling left, are connected with the recipients of the offerings (see and ), the two on right are occupied with jousting (see ).
• The first boat (left) : This is filled with baskets, lotus flowers and caged birds. The man at the bow holds a black pole in one hand, which pushes into the water, and he has a lotus wrapped around his other. His head is turned to face the man behind him, perhaps giving instructions to the rest of the crew. The man behind him breathing the scent of a lotus bloom which he holds to his nose, appears to relax whilst standing supported by his staff. Both the attitude and his loincloth indicate that he is in command. At the stern, two men face to the right, towards the second craft. The one on the left pushes a pole into the water, whilst the other is seated on a chair, waving something above his head. The role of the last character is more difficult to understand: Dunham (in his account) suggests that he
"holds up a bunch of lotus flowers and threatens the second skiff". This seems very unlikely, perhaps it is necessary to see instead a signal announcing imminent boarding of the craft?
• The second boat: This is smaller and is controlled by two men. The one at the front (left) uses a paddle, the man at the rear uses a pole. At the centre, a third man attends a calf, which may be afraid on being on water.
• The two other craft: These face each other and are engaged in combat. The mariners, three in the one on the left and four in the other, are equipped with their paddles and poles. One of the four men has succeeded in seizing the prow of the other, and it can be imagined that he shakes it to make its occupants fall overboard, whilst one of his accomplices pulls on a paddle which he has succeeded in clutching. These aquatic jousts are a theme which is frequently presented in the Old Kingdom, then they disappear from the content list of the tombs.
Immediately to the right of the nautical scenes, a senior official, designated as:
"Headman of the town", nonchalantly leans on his staff, observing the work of his subordinates. Three shepherds stand behind a herd of sheep with long horizontal horns. In their raised right hand they hold a whip and in the other possibly a halter. A fourth man stands in the middle of the herd also holding a raised whip, but has his hand on his head possibly wondering what to do next. The left-hand part of the text above the scene says:
"Cultivating with a herd of sheep". At the right-hand side of the scene are two land workers facing the sheep. The first carries a bag of grain probably enticing them forward by holding a handful of food towards them. The last man walks whilst leaning on a staff; he also holds a bag over his shoulder, probably more seeds. The text above them states:
"Sowing the seed".
(See .) This side of the wall, between the entrance doorway and the south-east corner of the chamber, measures 1.60 metres in width and is divided into five registers. It was carved into the rock and was dressed of a plaster layer. At the top, next to the doorway, were originally two masonry blocks, the upper on of which is now missing, probably forced out in order to remove the upper socket of the wooden door. A large bottom area, on the right, has suffered such that it is difficult to identify the content of the scenes and even more difficult to photograph then.
The two top registers represent a journey by boat and the lower three are of craftsmen at work, with an interesting representation of metallurgists.
These registers actually form one scene, the two boats of the top one preceding the two of the one below. All four head towards the exit, on the left.
The first boat has a yellow hull, but its prow is missing. The stone block on which it was represented having been pulled by the pillagers anxious to steal the door. It possesses a wooden deck. The four rowers have disappeared, but at the stern, the two sailors who stand holding long rudder oars, for guidance, remain very visible. The male figure, wearing a cross-band of office, looking forwards, is seated on a yellow cubic chair with a small headboard. With no identifying text it is unknown who this might be. Behind the chair is possibly a maid (again no identifying text). She squats with her hands in greeting, one across her chest the other held in front of her touching the back of the seat.
The second boat, painted white, this is made of rushes or papyrus, indicated by the markings and shape of the stern and prow. Three rowers (or actually paddlers) are seated on the starboard side and it is reasonably certain that more were positioned on the port side. The pilot leans towards them, with his head turned towards the leading boat. He holds a staff (or perhaps plant stems?) with which he apparently makes a signal to the preceding boat. Meresankh (almost certainly, though again unidentified) is seated on an archaic low cubic seat, whose headboard is furnished with a cushion. She breathes the odour of an enormous lotus flower. A handmaid, who crouches in front of her, holds a fan, whilst behind her, another maid holds a large sunshade. Finally, at the stern, a man controls the steering oar.
The first boat is of yellow painted wood. On the deck is a wooden frame with, at the centre, a cloth canopy draped over it which reaches down to the deck, for protection against the sun (see ). A man appears to be seated on top of the canopy, perhaps a flattened section which could be the bridge. It is quite possible that the framework stretched across the deck, from side to side, and that a blanket covering stretches along the top. The boat is propelled (on the port side) by eleven rowers. At the front, the pilot holds in one hand a long probe, with which he would test the depth of the water, whilst his other arm is folded across his chest. At the centre, very damaged, stands a woman. At the stern, three men hold the oar-shaped rudders.
The second boat is almost identical to the first, but this one has a rear-facing animal head on the prow (see ). Only eight men operate the oars of this boat, and at the rear two operate the rudder oars. The pilot again holds his probe in one hand, but he holds the other to his head, in order to protect his eyes from the sun. In the middle of the craft, a character holds on to one the beams which support the canopy.
On the left, is a man whom Reisner identified as
"the painter, Rehay", the text above him is now unreadable. He stands, facing left, on a small platform, painting a feminine statue which faces him, towards the right. He holds in one hand a brush and in his other a bowl of colouring material (see ). To his right,
"the sculptor, Inkaf" exercises his craftsmanship on the stone statue of a seated lady, again the sculptor faces left and has his tool in his right hand. Next, three men pull, with the aid of a rope, a sledge on which is a statue which faces left. This statue is placed in a wooden chapel whose doors are open so that the eulogist, who stands facing it, can make an encensement (see ) using the censor which he holds in his hand. Behind the structure stands a man supporting it, for when it is being pulled, although in the scene he is watching what is happening behind him. The last scene is hardly visible: three men pull the statue of a seated lady, whilst a fourth, who stands facing it, perhaps pours a libation over it (see overlay image ).
To the left, two craftsmen polish a sarcophagus made of granite (indicated by the black and red colour) in the shape of the
"pr-wr" hieroglyph, with a decor in facade of palace (see overlay image ). The man to the right of the object stands on a raised yellow platform or box. The difficult to read inscription above the image may simply state:
"craftsman". The following scenes have no associated descriptive texts. Following this, to the right, is a damaged area, but the remnants show a seated man, facing right, at work on unidentifiable object. The third scene is of a man who is leaning over and polishing a leaf of a door (see ). Next is a squatting character who can be seen carving a false door, probably in wood if what he holds is an adze. Finally, the last man, standing on the right, is occupied with a saw (although the detail is lost) using it against a vertical board (see ).
On the left, on this bottom register, takes place a scene of metallurgy, under a shelter. Four men, kneeling on the ground, blow into a small furnace using blow-pipes to help melt the metal. They are accompanied, on the left, by a man who seems to be crushing ore for them to use (see ).
The right-hand section of the register, divided into two superimposed sub-registers, is very damaged. At top left, two men are seated on opposite sides of a low table or offering stand. Next, a man works on a chest. It is impossible to know what is finally being worked on by the man on the right. Below, on the left, can be seen two wood-workers making adjustments to a chair which intended to be carried by porters; the carrying poles are visible. In the final scene, two men (the one on the right is almost totally lost) are occupied with work on a chest.