The mastaba of Ty , in Saqqara, is one of the most famous tomb of the Old Kingdom, remarkable for the diversity and relevance of topics, as well as for the quality of execution of its reliefs and their state of conservation.
The mastaba, identified as N°60 (according to Jacques de Morgan) or D22 (according to Mariette), is situated a few hundred metres to the northwest of the step pyramid of Djoser and about 150 metres from the entranceway leading into the Serapeum. The Serapeum is the set of underground galleries (catacombs) where the Apis bulls were buried, considered to be sacred as the living image of the god Ptah of Memphis.
Ty lived under the reigns of several pharaohs, the last of whom was Niouserre, at the end of the 25th - beginning of the 24th century BC. He was the husband of Nefer-hetep-es (Neferhetepes). He was the Director of the hairdressers of the Great House, which made him close to the king.


Dating of the mastaba

The last quoted king's name, on the walls of the tomb, is that of Niuserre. But graffiti can also be found of workers giving the name of Neferirkare-Kakai. Ty is also mentioned in Abusir, in the solar temple in connection with the pyramid Sahure.
Ty lived, therefore, under several kings. His tomb, which began under Neferirkare-Kakai, was probably finished under Niuserre. This confirms the study of Nadine Cherpion, which positively confirms that the decor dates from the reign of this last king.
Thus, the mastaba of Ty dates to the middle of the 5th Dynasty and the middle of the Old Kingdom.

History of the mastaba

The mastaba of Ty was discovered in 1860 by Auguste Mariette (see ), which was partially cleared, as shown in the taken by Dümichen in 1868. "The Marvel of Saqqara" (Emmanuel de Rouge) has attracted the interest of many Egyptologists, including Maspero, Steindorff, Montet, Vandier, Epron, Daumas, Goyon, Wild, etc.

Before beginning, it is important to pay homage to Pierre Montet, and to his extraordinary publication: "Les scènes de la vie privée dans les tombeaux égyptiens de l'Ancien Empire", as well as to Jacques Vandier and to the volumes of his "Manuel d'archéologie Égyptienne", which are the basis of that which follows; these works remain, despite their age, essential references for which there is no equal.
Also associated with them are the two inescapable references concerning plates and photos: "Le Tombeau de Ti", in three volumes, by the l'IFAO (L.Epron, F.Daumas, G.Goyon et H.Wild) and "Das Grab des Ti" by Georg Steindorff (see bibliography).


TY : In principle, proper names have a meaning in ancient Egypt, yet we do not know the meaning of the name (sometimes written or Ti, Tey, or Thiy). Because the end of his name (), equating to "y", Ty should be used, which also has the advantage of being compliant with "Manuel de Codage". Also, according to transcription standards, the first sign () of the name, a capital "T", equates to an underlined "t", the true pronunciation of which should be "tch". Therefore the name should be something like "tchiy", but perhaps this should be left to personal choice.
However, it is possible that Ty was the abridged form of a name which remains unknown to us.

As already mentioned, Ty is contemporary with several kings of the 5th Dynasty.
The dimension of the tomb (more than 34m east to west, and more than 42m north to south), and also the quality of the decoration, shows the importance of the character, his functions and his material resources.
His eminent social standing as "Unique Friend" was due to his position as "director of the hairdressers of the Great House", which conferred on him the right to approach and to touch the sovereign. As a rich and powerful man, he had - among other things - the responsibility of agricultural domains and especially of some of the most important institutions connected to the posthumous cult of the sovereigns. Indeed, he had some functions associated with two pyramids (those of Neferirkare and Niuserre) and in four solar temples, those of Sahure, Neferirkares, Raneferefs and Niuserres.
It is worth being reminded of the considerable economic importance which these foundations had at this time, those appropriate to the pyramids, the solar and other temples. They owned lands, herds of cattle and a numerous staff, notably agricultural, and all of these had to be managed.
It is unclear why Ty was buried at Saqqara, whilst the masters which he served all had their funerary monuments (various pyramids and temples) in Abusir, situated several kilometres away (see ).
The list of titles given to Ty was numerous . This list has been established according to the work of P. Piacentini, but it doesn't give the hieroglyphic script. To overcome this problem (which is a basic typographical problem: mixture text and hieroglyphs) pillars from the chapel have been used as a means of illustration: , , and . At the bottom of each column is the name of Ty with his seated figure below it.

The "tomb of Ty" was a family monument, which was used not only by Ty himself, but also by his wife and by his sons.
His wife Neferhetepes, was a priestess of Neith and Hathor.
Until recently, only two sons were known: , who seems to have had a special significance, and Ty (''junior').
Again, it is important to note the contribution of the work of Mrs. Piacentini, who drew attention to the third son of Ty, Benek, which has also helped in this work to find a fourth, unfortunately anonymous (Mr. Treillet).

(NB: the measurements mentioned above are approximate: they were obtained either from the G. Goyon plan, or deduced from the scale information given on the plates, all referred to in MIFAO LXV, or else they represent the measurements indicated on the plates of G.Steindorff).


As with many of the burials at Saqqara, the effect of sand over several millennia has changed the face of the place and the tomb is currently beneath the level of the desert.
The drawing on the right, which uses one of the figures drawn by Mariette, shows the likely external aspect of the tomb, as a mirrored "L" shape.

Since its appearance, at the start of the pharaonic civilisation, the funeral superstructure known as a mastaba (derivative of the Arab "bench") is characteristic of the Old Kingdom (although some are found of a later date). They present an almost unchanged external aspect, a reminder of a (very) truncated pyramid. The body of the building is constructed from pieces of stone and clay, and is partitioned by mud bricks. In the best cases, it is enhanced by a cladding of limestone slabs.
The primordial hillock evokes a symbolic structure, the initial mound which sprung from the Nun, the ocean of the abysses, on the first day of the world. For the deceased, it was the magical place providing communication between the two worlds, where worship could be made and offerings presented, so that the immortal part of the individual could benefit; so that his Ka could be maintained for eternity.
Even if the outside shape was almost unchangeable during the Old Kingdom, this was not the case for the interior arrangement. In this middle part of 5th Dynasty, most of the mastaba is formed by the central solid core, hallways and rooms occupying a restricted portion of the mass. Over time, this share of the inside space grew increasingly at the expense of the solid part. The 6th Dynasty marks the apogee of this process, which culminated with the power of the great families, as in .

The plan of the tomb of Ty is simple: a portico entrance opens onto an open courtyard with pillars, hence, two successive corridors lead to the first room (a storeroom), then another leads to the main chapel for receiving the offerings and worship.
The mastaba of Ty was one of the first private tombs to consist of a great pillared courtyard. This courtyard is external to the main structure, to the east of the main oblong massif, and not inside, which signifies that it had been maybe added in a second phase.
The orientation of the monument is nearly perfectly north-south; the chapel, serdabs and storeroom are therefore oriented east-west.


On the University of Wisconsin site is a showing the pillars and the courtyard at the time of clearing the monument. Currently, it is necessary to go down slightly tilted ramp, surrounded by modern walls, to arrive at the ancient ground level where the entry of the tomb is located. It is situated at the north, and includes a portico with two pillars sitting in a recess of the outside wall. This entry is along a narrow track which also serves other nearby tombs, but which have not apparently been completed. The floor is paved, but it is unknown if this is the original paving.

The pillars

The pillars measured about 3.9m in height. At the time of the discovery of the monument they were broken to half of their height, and the lintel which they supported was buried in the sand. The decoration is on the front faces and starts at 0.9m from the ground and should have extended up to the lintel. Nowadays it only reaches a height of 2.2m on the left pillar and 1.7m on the right pillar; no trace of colour has survived (see ).

On each pillar, Ty is represented at the bottom, facing the entry. Above him can be found part of his titles, whose statement is different on each side, but which end in an identical way, with: "the unique friend, Ty". This title appears to be the one to which he attached the greatest value, because it is found almost everywhere.

The two representations are of slightly different in height, the one on the right is a little smaller than the one on the left, but the base ground level has been raised on the right, probably in order to compensate for the difference. The representations and the hieroglyphs are in sunken relief, presumably they were originally coloured.
On both sides, Ty has a naked chest and he wears kilt with a triangular front. His chin is decorated with a short square beard, and he wears a long striped wig which descends behind his shoulders. Around his neck spreads a large necklace. At first sight these appear to be mirror images, the scenes (and the writing) being reversed from one pillar to another. However, on the left-hand pillar, he holds a long staff with his left hand and in his right is a sekhem-sceptre, his emblems of office. On the right-hand pillar these are held in the other hands and strangely, the sceptre, which is now held in his left hand, passes behind him. This, which appears very strange, is actually impossible to achieve.
The hieroglyphs have benefited from a quality of execution, and by enlarging the image it is possible to distinguish the twists of the rope heiroglyph (V13 of Gardiner) as well as the streaks of the feather glyph (see ).
The other faces of the pillars are uninscribed.

The walls of the portico

At first glance, a contrast is seen between the height of the walls and the small depth of the registers in which the scenes are engraved. Throughout the rest of the monument the same exists.

East wall

The five initial registers, of which only three have survived, were each 35cm in height. Each shows a parade of the domains, in the form of females bringing in produce offerings from the properties of Ty. These women are therefore the personification of the domains, and the legends which accompany them specify the names of these; all of which end with the sign signifying a town or city.
Every register includes twelve women, and relate therefore to twelve domains. There were therefore (in theory, because some could be fictitious) at least thirty-six, and if the two missing registers contained the same as the others, their number would have risen to sixty.
All women carry on their head a basket (the streaked design of which invokes wicker) which they support with their left hand, the arm being bent slightly. Some food commodities are recognisable: breads of various shapes and sizes, vegetables, etc. The right arm is mostly held straight down, the hand holding a fowl, a vase or the leash of a calf or a small gazelle. More rarely, the arm is bent and the hand then holds two long stems of papyrus, whilst lotus stems hang bent across the bend of the elbow.
These women are clothed in a long transparent dress with two shoulder straps. The hair style is divided, with strands hanging down the back and the front. By examining them carefully, it can be seen that the craftsman did remarkable work: no two are identical (see ).

These registers are separated at each end by a ladder motif, separated on the right by a vertical column of hieroglyphs containing the title of the deceased. Below each register, two thick lines represent the ground on which they walk. The identifying text separates the women.
The top register is nearly intact, apart from the far left. The middle register doesn't have the end framing anymore, and the woman of right is missing, as well as the lower part of the vertical legend. The bottom register has preserved its framing on the left, but the right part has lost the last female representation, as well as the framing and the legend.
The destroyed parts of the scenes and title text, on the right, correspond to the first of two openings of the first serdab (see and ). More information about this and serdabs in general is given on .

Here are the names of different fields:

Register 3 (R3, top)

1)  "the palace of Ty", 2)  "the beer of Ty", 3)  "the nbS fruit of Ty", 4)  "the wine of Ty", 5)  "the two mounds of Ty", 6)  "the sanctuary of Ty", 7)  "the Hbnnt bread of Ty", 8)  "the Agt of Ty", 9)  "the roasted barley of Ty", 10)  "the good things for Ty", 11)  "for the Ka of Ty", 12)  "the bSt bread of Ty".

Register 4 (R4, middle)

13) -destroyed-, 14)  "the foundation of Ty", 15)  "the establishment of Ty", 16)  "the two rooms of Ty", 17)  "the sandal of Ty", 18)  "the house of the Ka of Ty", 19)  "the hill of Ty", 20)  "that which Ty loves", 21)  "the iAm tree of Ty", 22)  "the two sycamores of Ty", 23)  "the nbS tree of Ty", 24)  "the pavilion of Ty".

Register 5 (R5, bottom)

25) -destroyed-, 26)  "the iSd fruits of Ty", 27)  "the property of Ty", 28)  "the swallow of Ty", 29)  "the milk of Ty", 30)  "the fig of Ty", 31)  "the respect of Ty", 32)  "the int foundations of Ty", 33)  "the waH grain of Ty", 34)  "that which Ty loves", 35)  "the establishment of Ty", 36)  "the leg of Ty".

West wall

Extremely incomplete (), all that remains is the lower part of the one register, which includes the continuation of another parade of the domains (see ).

South wall, east part (left of the entry)

The photos here are not very meaningful, because of difficult lighting conditions on darkened walls where the colours have disappeared. Much of the discussion will then use the plates from MIFAO LXV.
As for the wall, the size of the small scenes is very noticeable (the registers have a height of little more than 30cm).

Here is found one of the best known representations of the tomb: the farming of poultry and the scenes of fattening.
Montet distinguishes two types of farms where poultry is raised: the classic farm, Hrt, dedicated to the actual raising, and the Stbw farm where the birds are force-fed food in order to fatten them. In the case of Ty, both are present, each on a separate register.
To the left of these scenes, and occupying about 1/4 the width of the panel, is found Ty (see ) standing tall, supervising the agricultural activities from which he is separated by a vertical column of hieroglyphs. Naked chest, and clothed in a kilt with a triangular front piece, he wears a large necklace hanging under which is a pendant. In his left hand he holds the long staff of office, whilst in his right hand tightly holds a piece of folded cloth. Behind him, at a smaller scale, are his two sons, Ty and Demedj.

The lower register

Here can be seen the of the register.

The scene starts on the left with a parade of four officials responsible of the administration of the domain, charged with registration and verification: 1- "steward", 2- "controller", 3- "poultry scribe", 4- "manager responsible for the fattening (of poultry) ". On the left, there was probably a fifth man. They are represented between columns with a lotiform design, which seems to indicate that they are in a place covered with a roof, probably a verandah annexed to a building.
In front of these administrative officials are two men who carry baskets containing the grain, and the text says: 5- "pouring food for the poultry"; these are the same baskets found a little further on.

The enclosure is represented in the form of a rectangle; six forked sticks act as support for the roof of branches or matting, probably to stop the birds from flying off and at the same time it protects them from the glare of the sun. On the other hand, there is no evidence of how the fowl were confined at the sides. In the centre of the enclosure is a pool filled with water, represented by the classic wavy lines, containing unidentifiable small palms. Diagonal ditches, located at the four corners, ensure a supply of water. Around the pool, other birds peck at the grain spilled in abundance on the ground.

To the right of this first enclosure, two men identified as: 7- "shepherds" carry on their shoulder a plaited basket containing barley, and empty it in front of them into a second enclosure: 6- "pouring food for the nesting place". This enclosure is in all respects similar to the previous one. The two are connected by a post, situated outside, which supports the same roof covering, thus forming a single group.
Immediately after, the employee who is in control and who holds in his right hand a very long staff, follows a man who pours the grain destined to feed cranes outside of the enclosure. The related text states: 8- "pouring food for the cranes".

The middle register

This is dedicated to force-feeding of different poultry.
The manufacture of bread, represented in some mastabas, is not found in that of Ty. Instead, the following scene is shown, the preparation of the small pieces (or pellets) of the dough, which are stored on trays, and the actual force-feeding. This consists of placing a piece of dough directly into the throat of the formly held bird. Then the neck is massaged to make the bird swallow it. Once the operation is finished, the fowl is let loose to gambol in the enclosure or to swim in a pond, or to take, with the help of a guide, a "walk", which is possible if there had been a very good relationship when the bird was young.

Five other scenes of the same type are found here, where only the species of the bird changes: the first is of geese, then ducks and geese, then pintail ducks, then pigeons and finally cranes.

first scene
The upper legend is incomplete: 1- "… walk… after the meal"; some geese gambol; one of them is being force-fed by a seated man who forces food into its beak: 2- "fattening a goose - r ". The poultry behind him are: 3- "coming for food".

second scene

On the left, a man apparently supervises the action; his name and exact function is lost, 4- "scribe…", The texts directly in front of him are two legends which describe the scene: 5- "distributing of pellets on the ground" and the upper horizontal one, 6- "walking the white geese and ducks after the meal". Two men sit preparing pellets of food: 7- "rolling pellets for the birds", the second man seems to pour a liquid from a vase?. It could be about wetting the fragments of bread in order to make them malleable. In the middle of the poultry is a hieroglyphic sign: 8- "hedj", meaning "white" considered as a description of the birds represented around it, so the group must consist of only "white geese".

third scene
Two men are seated, one prepares the bread pellets: 9- "preparing the bread pellets by the force-feeder of the birds", whilst his overseer, who feeds a poultry, tells him: 10- "make sure how you make this bread". Above, the text is complete: 11- "walking the pintail ducks after the meal". Of the legends (some of which are may be speech bubbles) briefly illustrate certain attitudes: 12- "feeding the birds", 13- "taking the bread", 14- "coming (for the meal) ".

fourth scene

To the left is: 15- "a scribe of the estate office", in front of him is the same scene as the previous one, confirmed by the vertical legend: 16- "preparing pellets for the birds". Two other identical legends specify 17- "feeding (the teals) ". The legend at the top is similar to the previous: 18- "walking the teals and the pigeons after the meal". Again there are legends which may equate to "speech bubbles": 19- "coming for the meal", 20- "feeding (the pigeons) ".

fifth scene

Again can be found the legend: 21- "preparing the pellets of bread by the force-feeder of the birds"; then the type of bird changes: 22- "feeding the cranes". The force-feeder is shown standing this time, next to the bird, and his left hand holds its head. The upper legend confirms: 23- "walking the cranes after the meal". Finally, commenting on the arrival of animals: 24- "coming for the meal".

The top register

The scenes here are badly preserved, but it can be seen that they are no longer about taking care of birds, but many animals of the desert.
At the beginning of the third register is a very rare scene, and which is not seen again after the Old Kingdom: the feeding of a hyena. If there was any doubt, the corresponding text removes the ambiguity: 1- "fattening a hyena" (see ). The thought of the fact that the Egyptians could consume the flesh of this smelly animal is unbelievable. But after all, there are strange taste preferences in modern times. Another possibility is that the hyena would have served to help in hunting, and would have been crammed with food previously to satiate it. A doubtful explanation, because in this case, how could it be forced to hunt? Was the animal maybe only intended as a sacrifice?
However, be that as it may, force-feeding would have been a dangerous activity, requiring the presence of at least two people, as here: one man restrains the animal, while another forces food into its muzzle. On the right, it is possible that two men bring another hyena. Further right again (see ), are the meagre remnants of a parade of other desert animals, captured and domesticated. The oryx can be recognised with their long slightly curved horns, which seems to confirm legend 2, which is incomplete and difficult to understand.

In the sub-register immediately above the force-feeding of the hyenas, are found five oryx which eat from a container at their feet. This time, their name is clear: 2- "ren maâ hedj". The term "ren" is not fully understood in this kind of use (the most common usage is for "name"). According to Madeleine Peeters-Destéract: "… after Loret 'ren' applies to a virgin [?] or domesticated animal. In fact this term 'ren' often precedes the name of the animals which are driven to the slaughterhouse, it is probably necessary here to see the sense of 'young' ".
Immediately above, some squatting men take care of animals (oryx or others), without being able to clearly define their work as the registry is damaged.

South wall, west part (right of the entry)

The few remaining reliefs on the wall are very poorly preserved. The scenes had deteriorated further in the twentieth century, because it is likely that P. Montet, when he described the scene of the boat and giving the text just above its bow, and L. Epron, when she designed plate IX MIFAO LXV, were in the presence of a wall in better condition (see ).
Today, there is still some of the left side of registers one and two and a few fragments of the three register. No trace of colour is now visible.
Against the door can be found the classic border of coloured rectangles, the colours of which have now disappeared.

Register 1

Surmounted by a very strange 'frieze' on the left, takes place a parade of fishermen. The first carries on his shoulders a long pole at both extremities of which is attached a basket full of fish; note should be made of the fact that his right arm is held casually over the pole. To the right, two men support a single pole between them, from which hang two enormous fishes; the next two men use the pole to carry a heavy basket, also in the middle of the pole. Then there are three porters, of which only a few traces remain. The legend which runs above is also incomplete: 1- "… in very large quantities for verification…".

Register 2

Here, on the left, is a scene of fishing with a hoop net. In the lower half of the register, a fisherman places his trap, on foot, in shallow water; fish are already entering! Above of him, using one of the abbreviations which the ancient Egyptians loved, another fisherman hurries to bring the full net to one of his colleagues who is kneeling on the ground. Although the net is held with the open end at the top, the text to the left states: 2- "emptying the net". The text behind the net holder quotes his words to this friend: 3- "The fish in the trap is so excellent".
On the right, the fishing takes place by boat, but the scene is so damaged that it is difficult to say precisely what is happening. On the right of the stern of the left-hand boat, one of the two fishermen says: 4- "good stroke of the oar". On the right, a man's sentence begins: 5- "… pull".

Register 4

This is almost completely obliterated and only of small fragments exist of men fishing with baskets in deep water deep.

The entrance passageway

This includes two sections: a narrow one which occupies 4/5 of the length, then the remainder, at the far end, which widens on both sides and in height to receive a door opening on to the courtyard. Only the panels on the right and left of the narrow part are (currently) decorated.

East panel (left)

This has the famous inscription, the "address to the visitors", associated with the image of Ty (see ).

The inscription

This has also been named "call to the living", but E.Edel, who made a very advanced study of it, provided the latter name to another type of inscription.
The terminology "address" is due to J. Saint Fare Garnot, who distinguishes three circumstances: when there is only the element prayer, it talks of a call to the living; when it is only about threats, it talks with a prohibitive formula; and when there are threats and prayers at the same time, it talks with an address to the visitors.
The preservation of the text is average, with no surviving colour. The translation of Henri Wild is published in BIFAO 1959 (with free access on the internet, see the bibliography). It is the result of a complex work, taking into account different tombs, of which one of them is that of Mereruka.

The inscription occupies eight long vertical columns in front of the image of Ty, above whom are four small (more damaged) columns giving some titles. The correspondence between the , the and the translation is not very clear.
" (1) The unique friend, much loved, steward of the palace, chief of the king's barbers (Wild gives Pharaoh, but this term is anachronistic before the 18th Dynasty) , ritualistic priest, Ty. He says:
(2) [All people who will enter into this (my) tomb of] eternity unclean because they have eaten of the abominable things which repel a mind which has arrived in the necropolis,
(3) [not] being pure at the (appropriate) time, as they must be to penetrate into the god's temple), a judgement will be uttered against them because of it by the great god, the place where one judges in truth,
(4) [(because) I am of excellent mind, educated in all the secrets of the divine book of the craftsmanship of the ritualistic priest.] For me are celebrated all solemn rituals of spiritualisation, whose celebration is assured of excellent spirits
(5) by the hourly service of the ritualistic priest. I am initiated [to all the secrets of the sacred library]. I know all the rituals by which a spirit, which has arrived at the necropolis, is spiritualised;
(6) [I know all rituals by which one is equipped by the great god; I] (know all rituals by which one is raised) by the great god and I know all rituals by which one is glorified by the god.
(7) [On the contrary, all men who will enter in this my tomb of eternity, in state of purity at the appropriate time, as one is clean] to penetrate into the temple of the great god, I will be his support in this august courthouse of the great god, and I will act diligently.
(8) … never will I leave (him) to get) whatever he hates and (never) will I permit to occur to him some miscalculation (?) by the great god.
(9) (because)…… am I brought (ritual?) provisions] with the funeral offering, coming from many of my foundations, daily and forever.
(10) ……
(11) I say this to anyone who will enter this tomb of mine forever.
(12) … [these will be the friend of Anu]bis [the all ritualistic priest who will come into this my tomb of eternity, to accomplish in my favour the rituals. Recite for me the ritual formula of the equipment…"

The deceased

Ty is represented standing, in the attitude of recitation. He holds in his right hand his staff, while the left is raised. He wears a loincloth with the front-piece, a necklace, and a (grooved) wig which descends behind his shoulders. In front of his face is written: "Djed-f" ("he says"),

West panel (right)

(see and )

Extremely incomplete, there only remains the bottom of four columns of text, maybe connected to the address to the living, preserved better on the facing wall. The feet of Ty can be seen on the left.