H. 54.3 cm (2103/8 in.); w. 29 cm (11 1/2 in.)
Brooklyn Museum of Art, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund 46.167
This larger-than-lifesize head is generally dated to the beginning of the Old Kingdom, between the end of the Third Dynasty and the reign of Khufu near the beginning of the Fourth. Unfortunately, because there is no inscription and the provenance is unknown, the subject's identity can be discussed solely on the basis of style. The head is unusually large. Few colossal statues were made in the Old Kingdom, but the earliest of them date from the Third Dynasty, in Djoser's time, when monumental architecture in stone began to flourish. King Khafre also was a great builder (cat. no. 65) and left monumental sculptures depicting members of his family.
This statue is carved in a hard red granite whose surface has never been polished. Traces of a white coating on the crown suggest it was painted. The very broad face evokes the countenance of a tiny ivory statuette inscribed with the name of Khufu in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo (JE 36143). The stern expression and deep lines around the mouth are reminiscent of such austere images of Djoser and his contemporaries as the large Cairo statue (fig. 29), reliefs in the Step Pyramid complex at Saqqara, and panels with Hesi-re (cat. no. 17) and Kha-bau-sokar (see "The Human Image in Old Kingdom Nonroyal Reliefs" by Nadine Cherpion in this catalogue, pp. 104-7). The small, wide-set eyes, treated naturalistically, also bring to mind the images of Djoser and his court, as do the broad nostrils with sharply pronounced contours. The pharaoh is wearing the white crown, symbolizing his sovereignty over Upper Egypt. The tabs on either side of the disproportionately large ears belong iconographically to the Second Dynasty and are identical in type to those depicted on the ivory statuette of Khufu mentioned above. The mantle, which rises high on the neck and conceals the bottom of the crown, is probably the kind worn during the Heb Sed, when the pharaoh ritually renewed his strength.1
With its muscular neck and impassive face, the head is one in a series of early large royal statues that evoke the absolute power of the king of Egypt in a fairly brutal manner. It anticipates the more subtle and accomplished artworks produced in large numbers during the reigns of Djedefre, Khafre, and Menkaure. Although there is still room for uncertainty, this colossal head can be called, with a high degree of probability, a likeness of the builder of the Great Pyramid. CZ
1. Sourouzian T995, pl. 42, n. 39.
Bibliography: Cooney 1948, pp. 1-12; Fazzini 1975, no. 15a; Neferut net Kemit 1983, no. 9; Fazzini et al. 1989, no. 9; Stadelmann 1998a, p. 365, n. 63
Fourth Dynasty, reign of Snefru
Limestone with faint remains of paint
a. H. 93 cm (36 5/8 in.); w. 24 cm (9 1/2 in.)
b. H. 55 cm (21 5/8 in.); w. 50 cm (19 3/4 in.)
Egyptian Museum, Cairo (a) JE 98949, (b) JE 98950
Ahmed Fakhry discovered many important inscribed blocks during his 1952 excavations at the statue-cult temple of the Bent Pyramid of Snefru. Among them were these two fragments depicting female figures, found near the eastern wall under the debris of the central hall. The women, who represent royal estates from the nomes of Egypt, are all similarly depicted. Each wears a wig and a long, tight dress; each balances on her left hand a hetep-shaped offering table that holds loaves of bread and a heset vase; and each bears the ankh hieroglyph in her right hand.Carved in low relief and originally painted, the figures still reveal traces of pigment indicating that the skin was yellow and that the dresses had a geometric pattern of red, blue, yellow, and black squares familiar from tomb paintings of the Fourth and Fifth Dynasties.
Fakhry determined that the original temple was a simple rectangular structure with a north-south axis. A narrow hall was entered through a doorway on the south side, and friezes decorated the long eastern and western walls. The western friezes showed royal estates from the nomes of Upper Egypt, the eastern ones from those of Lower Egypt; together they assured that offerings for the king were provided perpetually from all the provinces. Surmounting these representations of the estates was a large-scale depiction of the king in the company of various gods, clearly intended to demonstrate the direct relationship the sovereign enjoyed with the divinities. ZH
Provenance: Dahshur, statue-cult temple of Snefru, Fakhry excavation, 1952
Bibliography: Fakhry 1961b
Limestone with remains of paint
H. 73.6 cm (29 in.); w. 149.8 cm (59 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (left fragment) Rogers Fund and Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1922 22.1.1; (right fragment) Rogers Fund, 1909 09.180.x8
When King Amenemhat I (about 1991-1962 b.c.e.), first ruler of the Twelfth Dynasty, decided late in life to build a pyramid for himself close to his new capital at Lisht, about thirty miles south of present-day Cairo, he ordered his workmen to collect stones from decaying Old Kingdom pyramid precincts and incorporate them into the inner structure of his own monument.1 Many of these blocks, which still carry relief decoration made for their original owners, were discovered by archaeologists of the Metropolitan Museum when they excavated Amenemhat's funerary precinct and pyramid at Lisht between 1906 and 1922. The origin of the reused blocks can sometimes be determined from the names of the kings that appear in their inscriptions. However, these two blocks from a representation of the thirty-year jubilee ritual of a pharaoh (the Heb Sed, or Sed festival)2 do not furnish the name of a king, and their attribution to a specific Old Kingdom building must, therefore, be based on the style of the relief. Goedicke, who first studied the two blocks in detail, believed they were originally carved for Khufu's pyramid temple at Giza, but this cannot be correct, as the reliefs differ markedly from examples dated to Khufu's reign by inscriptions (for instance, cat. nos. 38,41).3
In terms of both the height and style of relief the present blocks are comparable only to works from the time of Khufu's father, Snefru. The figures stand out boldly in high relief and are entirely surrounded by straight edges that meet the background at right angles. These characteristics were common to works of the Third Dynasty (cat. nos. 17, 18) and continued to appear during Snefru's reign, as demonstrated by the estate reliefs from this king's statue-cult temple at Dahshur (cat. no. 22);4 the reliefs of Khufu's monuments are considerably lower and make use of edges of this kind only around certain parts of the figures, for instance, along the backs of the cattle in cat. no. 38. Especially close to the present scenes in height and roundness of sculptured surface are the reliefs from the tomb of Ra-hotep, who was a high official of Snefru and would have had his tomb decorated late in that pharaoh's reign or at the very beginning of the reign of Khufu.5 Iconographic details corroborate a close relationship between the Ra-hotep reliefs and the Heb Sed blocks. In Ra-hotep's tomb there is, for instance, a representation of a man with a rope over his shoulder whose right arm overlaps his head, and the arm of the standard-bearer in the jubilee relief is shown in a similar way. Such overlaps are usually avoided in Egyptian art.
It is not easy to determine from which building of Snefru's later reign the jubilee blocks could have derived. The preserved reliefs of Snefru's statue-cult temple are somewhat flatter and cruder than the relief on the Lisht blocks. However, very fragmentary remains of reliefs showing a Heb Sed that once adorned the temple at Snefru's latest funerary monument, the northern stone pyramid at Dahshur, recently excavated by Stadelmann, display a roundness similar to that of the present reliefs.7 The Lisht blocks can, therefore, be tentatively assigned to Snefru's pyramid precinct at the northern stone pyramid at Dahshur, although his name does not appear on a reused block from Lisht. We have no knowledge of any building erected by Khufu during the very first years of his reign.
The figures on the Lisht blocks are playing parts in the thirty-year jubilee, that important occasion for the rejuvenation of Egyptian kings through ritual. On the left block the goddess Meret stands in the middle of the remaining three registers, left of center on a rectangle bearing the hieroglyphic sign for "gold."8 She is described in the inscription behind her as "Meret of the Upper Egyptian lands." Meret's role in the Heb Sed rituals was to invigorate the king; acting as a kind of divine cheerleader, she raises her arm in a gesture that recalls the clapping of hands that was a customary part of Egyptian musical performances. The inscription in front of the goddess provides the words of her chant: "Recitations spoken: Come and bring, come and bring." The figure of the king to whom she addresses her words is broken off the left edge of the block. The evidence provided by other representations of the festival tell us that he towered over two registers: the one in which mortals and Meret are depicted and the one above it, of which little remains. In this scene the king performed a ritual race that was a major feature of all Heb Seds.9 His movement is mirrored here in the pace of the standard-bearer, who precedes him. The artist has, moreover, positioned this man in rich priestly costume on a ground line higher than that of the other figures to ensure that the top of his standard, with its sacred emblem, is held above the head of the running king. The standard-bearer's ritual title "Servant of the Bas (ancestral spirits) of Nekhen (an ancient city in Upper Egypt)" was written behind him; however, only part of one hieroglyph remains.
The proceedings are attended by various court officials. In front of the standard-bearer kneels a man whose title the inscription gives as "courtier." The importance of the courtier's presence is underlined by the fact that a representation of the sky spreads over him as well as Meret. To the right of the goddess is a group of six men, the first three of whom are identified, from left to right, as "lector-priest," "celebrant," and "chamberlain," while the last three, dressed in especially elaborate costumes, are labeled "Controllers of the Palace."10
There are scant remains of a register above and a register below the one showing Meret and the courtiers. The lowest register was crowned by a sky emblem decorated with stars, and the remnants of an inscription here refer to "coming forth from . . . ," doubtless part of the depiction of another ritual. The uppermost register was more closely connected with the one in which Meret and the courtiers appear. There is only a simple horizontal band between these two registers. The torso and head of the large figure of the running king must have been level with the uppermost register. Of the elements in that register, only part of an inscription is preserved. It states that some spell or other is being spoken "four times." Still visible to the right are the legs of a man and a portion of a staircase that probably ascended to a throne upon which the king would sit at the conclusion of the ritual.
This scene in which a pharaoh is so pointedly encouraged and protected by a divine personage and various court attendants bears witness to both the sacred nature and the vulnerability of Egyptian kingship. When contemplating the monumental pyramids of the Old Kingdom, we should remember that kings needed protection at least as much as confirmation of their power. DOA
- Goedicke 1971, pp. t-2, 4-7. The most recent discussion of Amenemhat's use of Old Kingdom building blocks is Jánosi 1988, p. 74.
- For this festival and its representations in Egyptian art, see in general, Kaiser 1971, pp. 87-105; and Martin 1984, cols. 782.-90, with earlier biography.
- Goedicke (1971, pp. 35, 38) accounted for this difference by assigning the jubilee blocks to the pyramid temple and the reliefs bearing the name of Khufu to the valley temple (see ibid., pp. 11, 13, 16, 18, 19, 20). However, in no other Old Kingdom pyramid precinct do the reliefs of the valley temple, causeway, and pyramid temple differ from one another in style to the extent observed here.
- Fakhry 1961b, pls. 13-32.
- For the date of the Ra-hotep reliefs, see Smith 1946, p. 149 (dating the tomb firmly to Snefru); Martin-Pardey 1984a, col. 83 (rejecting the date to the reign of Khufu maintained in Schmitz 1976, p. 142); and Harpur 1987, pp. 177 (dating the tomb to Khufu), 373 (to the time of Snefru and Khufu). Harpur points out (ibid., pp. 178-79) that the reliefs of Ra-hotep and Nefer-maat are closely related in terms of iconography and furnishes evidence that Ra-hotep's are further advanced than Nefer-maat's. The famous statues of Ra-hotep and Nofret indicate without doubt that his tomb dates before the majority of the works created in the reign of Khufu. For the group, see Russmann 1989, pp. 16-19. For relatively good illustrations of some of the Ra-hotep reliefs, see Smith 1946, pls. 34, 35; and Quirke and Spencer 1992, p. 36, fig. 23.
- Petrie 1892, pl. 10. See also Smith 1946, pp. 315-16, and Harpur 1987, p. 179. For a Fifth Dynasty version of the standard-bearer, see cat. no. 121.
- Stadelmann 1983, pp. 233-34, pl. 73. For the date of the northern pyramid in relation to other monuments of Snefru, see ibid., p. 235; and Stadelmann 1991, p. 100.
- Berlandini 1982, cols. 80-88. For the costume and base of the goddess, see Goedicke 1971, pp. 37-38, with the interesting suggestion that the sign for "gold" on the pedestal of the goddess was originally gilded.
- See Bissing and Kees 1923, no. 33b, pl. 13; and Jéquier 1938, pl. 12. 10. For details and parallels in other works, see Goedicke 1971, pp. 38, 40.
Provenance: Lisht North, pyramid of Amenemhat I, core of pyramid on north side, Metropolitan Museum of Art excavation, 1908-9 (left fragment); pyramid of Amenemhat I, precise find spot not noted, Metropolitan Museum of Art excavation, 1920-22 (right fragment)
Bibliography: Goedicke 1971, pp. 35-41, nos. 16, 17
24A-C. Paste-Filled Reliefs from the Tomb of Itet
Fourth Dynasty, reign of Snefru
Limestone with paste fill of gypsum (white and black-gray) and ocherous clay (red and yellow) mixed with small amounts of organic matter1
a. H. 100 cm (39 3/8 in.); w. 114 cm (44 7/8 in.) Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen AEIN 1133 A
b. H. 61 cm (24 in.); w. 122 cm (48 in.) Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen AEIN 1133 B
c. H. 52 cm (20 1/2 in.); w. 115 cm (45 1/4 in.) Staatliche Sammlung Ägyptischer Kunst, Munich GL. 103e-f
Nefer-maat, vizier and, according to the inscription on his tomb, "eldest son" of King Snefru, was buried in a huge mastaba close to Snefru's pyramid at Meidum.2 Nefer-maat's wife, Itet, was buried in the same mastaba, where she had her own chapel for her funerary cult (fig. 103). Among the inscriptions in Itet's chapel is one that has always intrigued Egyptologists.3 Carved in front of a figure of Nefer-maat—who is fairly conspicuously represented in his wife's tomb—it boasts that "he made his pictures in a [kind of] drawing that cannot be erased." This statement appears to refer to the technique of filling reliefs with paste that was used in the innermost tomb chapels of both Nefer-maat and Itet. In this technique figures and hieroglyphs were carved into limestone blocks as recessed areas that the artist filled with colored paste. Undercut edges along the outlines of small figures and signs, as well as rows of deep cells divided by diagonally drilled ridges inside larger ones, helped anchor the paste. Pastes were formed of ocherous clay, gypsum, and other pigments, which were consolidated with a binder of resin; when colors were made of more valuable materials, such as malachite (for green), these were applied in thin layers over an ocherous-clay substratum. Pastes of different colors were packed beside one another, and small amounts of one paste were inlaid into large areas of another to achieve a variety of effects. In the final stage of the process, a fatty substance appears to have been employed to polish the surface of the pastes and enhance their colors.4 Unfortunately, Nefer-maat's claim that he had invented a method for producing especially long-lasting tomb decoration proved to be incorrect; the pastes did not survive well, and the technique was abandoned—except for use in a few inscriptions (cat. nos. 44, 45)—after the one attempt in the tomb of Nefer-maat and Itet.The paste-filled reliefs were, however, a failure only in the area of technique. Stylistically and iconographically they constitute an important step in the development of Egyptian art. Indeed they introduce images and motifs that became common in succeeding Old Kingdom representations and in works of later times as well. Moreover, the number of scenes included is impressively large in comparison with the tomb of Metjen (cat. no. 29), for instance, which was decorated earlier in the reign of Snefru than these reliefs; in fact, the richness of detail in the Itet reliefs has given rise to the suggestion that many more pictorial works existed in the time before the reign of Snefru than are preserved. (Most of these may well have been paintings [see cat. no. 25].5)
The blocks from Copenhagen and Munich clearly reveal the quality and intriguing content of the paste reliefs. One of the Copenhagen reliefs (b) formed the uppermost of six registers that decorated the north outer face of Itet's stone-lined chapel (fig. 103c).6 The two offering bearers seen marching toward the chapel entrance
constitute an image characterized by a remarkable combination of formalism and variety. An inscription in front of the first man states that the scene depicts the "taking the wine of the washing of the mouth," that is, breakfast, in this context a part of the offering ritual.7 Another inscription, at the right end of the block, identifies as figs the small round fruits on two tables. The first man supports a pair of jars on his right hand while balancing a single vessel on his left.8 Pairs of wine jars joined together in a single basket were commonly depicted during the Old Kingdom and indeed constituted a hieroglyph.9 In fact, the unrealistically thin, elongated shape of the jars and the impossible balancing act the offering bearer is performing here suggest that the artist was more concerned with representing the hieroglyphic sign than actual vessels. Only one arm of the second man is shown; on it, in the manner of a fertility figure (cat. no. 113), he bears a low table covered with figs. The contrasting poses of the two bearers not only create variety but also produce a sense that the men are moving away from the table on the floor. Pieces of red and yellow paste remain.
The second Copenhagen relief (a) formed the lowest part of the wall that was surmounted by the block showing the men with wine and figs (fig. 103c).10 Its two registers are of unequal heights. In the upper and taller one, two men draw shut a clapnet in which they have caught three ducks, while another bird, which has escaped, flies off. The inscription reveals that the men are not ordinary fowlers but "the courtiers Seref-ka and Wehem-ka," who are known from other images in the tomb to have been sons of Nefer-maat and Itet.11 The image has a close parallel in a paste-filled relief on the front of Nefer-maat's stone-lined inner chapel,12, where, however, all four birds are caught in the net and two grazing geese and a few plants are also included.13 Itet's clapnet scene, like the depiction of the wine bearer, shows a close relationship to writing. The three symmetrically grouped overlapping ducks, for instance, almost certainly stand for the plural of the word "duck," which in hieroglyphics is as a rule indicated by the repetition of three signs or three strokes. The group of the two figures drawing the trap closed is a remarkably skillful composition, with its intricate yet clearly disposed interaction of four arms and legs. The kneeling posture of the men eloquently expresses the strength they bring to bear on the rope; it is, however, also a clever device that allowed the artist to avoid a large discrepancy between two tall standing figures and the small clapnet and enabled him to fit the scene into a fairly narrow register. The flying bird, although damaged, can still be appreciated as a strikingly naturalistic image untouched by the conventionalism that marks many later pictures of this type.
The lower register on the second Copenhagen block is narrower than the upper; here the potential discrepancy in height between the human and animal figures, as well as the need to fit them into the allotted space, is dealt with by introducing a child, identified as such by his nudity, as the keeper of the monkeys shown. In the parallel scene from Nefer-maat's tomb, monkeys are pictured with two children who are identified by their names and the title of courtier as sons of Nefer-maat and Itet.14 We can, therefore, safely assume that the child on this Copenhagen block is also a son of Itet. The image has the special flair of a court scene at a great family's residence. It is well known that Egyptians derived great joy from their pet monkeys, and Smith has correctly pointed out how much humorous appreciation of the species is encapsulated in this group of a child with two naughty animals, one of which is pulling at a crane's tail feathers.15 "The bird's hinder leg is suspiciously raised," writes Petrie, "as if he was just going to let fly with it right into the monkey's face."16 More paste is preserved here than on the other two blocks under discussion, and the crane presents a well-preserved example of the joining of different colored pastes within one cutout area.
The Munich block (c) was located south of the entrance to the stone-lined portion of Itet's tomb (fig. 103m), where it formed the middle register of a five-register wall. Here three men are engaged in building a boat from papyrus reeds. The two workers in the boat are pulling on the ropes with which they are tying the reeds, while the third man helps them shape the vessel by standing outside it and pressing his back against the prow.17 The inscription reads "binding." The motif of men tying a papyrus skiff together was quite popular in tomb reliefs of the Old Kingdom but was never again presented with such intense concentration upon the actions and positions of the figures.18 Do A
- F. C. J. Spurrell in Petrie 1892, pp. 24-25, 29.
- Simpson 1982, cols. 376-77. For building phases of the mastaba, see entry for cat. no. 25.
- Petrie 1892, pl. 24.
- Spurrell in ibid., pp. 24-25, 29; Wildung 1982c, col. 913.
- Smith 1946, pp. 154-55.
- Petrie 1892, pl. 24.
- El-Metwally 1992, p. 46.
- Is the single vessel a water jar for the "washing of the mouth"?
- Balcz 1934, pp. 51-53.
- Petrie 1892, pl. 24.
- Ibid., pls. 17, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26; El-Metwally (1992, pp. 42-47) understands the presence of the sons to underline the fact that all food represented in the tomb decorations was dedicated to the cult of the deceased. This would mean that the images present not pure scenes of daily life but rather depictions that are at least in part ritual scenes.
- Petrie 1892, pl. 18.
- Harpur 1987, pp. 178-79; Saleh and Sourouzian 1986, no. 25b.
- Petrie 1892, pl. 17.
- Smith 1946, p. 340.
- Petrie 1892, p. 26.
- Diirring 1995, pp. 15, 26-28.
- For parallels, see Harpur 1987, pp. 152-53, figs. 107-9; and Diirring 1995, PP- 15-25, pls. 3-6.
Provenance: Meidum, tomb of Nefer-maat and Itet (mastaba 16), stone-lined chamber of Itet (fig. 103c,m), Mariette excavation, 1871,* Petrie excavation, 1891 **
Bibliography: Petrie 1892, pp. 24-27, pls. 23, 24; Mogensen 1930, pp. 87-88; Jorgensen 1996, pp. 36-39; H. W. Miiller 1972, p. 38, no. 24; Harpur n.d.
* Mariette and Maspero 1889, pp. 473-77; for the date of the work, see Rowe 1931, pp. 8-9.
**At the request of Gaston Maspero, Director of the Egyptian Antiquities Service, Petrie removed the reliefs and paintings in the tomb to the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, and various European museums. See Petrie 1892, pp. 26-27, 39, pls. 23, 24; Petrie, Mackay, and Wainwright 1910, pp. 4-5, pls. 3, 4; and Wainwright in Petrie, Wainwright, and Mackay 1912, pp. 24-26, pls. 15, 16.
25a-c. Fragments of Paintings from the Tomb of Itet
Fourth Dynasty, reign of Snefru
Tempera on thin layer of fine plaster over coarser plaster mixed with chaff, originally applied to sun-dried brick wall1
a. Left side, h. 26 cm (10 1/4 in.); w. 18 cm (7 1/8 in.); right side, h. 17 cm (6 3/4 in.); w. 15 cm (5 7/8 in.) Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Gift of British School of Archaeology in Egypt 91.286a,b
b. FI. 26 cm (10 1/4 in.); w. 37.5 cm (14 3/4 in.) Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Gift of British School of Archaeology in Egypt 91.285
c. H. 41 cm (16 1/8 in.); w. 91 cm (35 7/8 in.) The Manchester Museum, University of Manchester 3594
Like many other large mastabas, the tomb of Nefer-maat and his wife, Itet, underwent various building phases. The original massive brick structure of this tomb was enlarged twice by the addition of new layers of brickwork on all four sides.2 Thus in stage two of the building process the stone-lined chapels of Nefer-maat and Itet with their paste-filled reliefs (cat. no. 24) became the rear portions of cruciform chambers whose new front sections were formed by a brick corridor.3 The walls of this corridor were covered with plaster and painted (fig. 103p). Although the ravages of time left most of these paintings severely damaged, William Stevenson Smith was able to reconstruct one large area from the north wall of Itet’s chapel with some certainty. The fragments from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Manchester Museum were once part of this wall.
The painting had two main registers and a subregister (fig. 104). The scenes— painted on a light blue-gray background— unfolded in front of a large figure, doubtless a representation of the tomb owner’s husband, Nefer-maat (see entry for cat. no. 24), wearing a shoulder ornament that was part of the priestly leopard garment,4 which is preserved on one of the Boston fragments (a, 91.286a). Itet was probably also de picted.5 In the uppermost register a man offers two pintail ducks6 to the large figure. Two joined Boston fragments (a, 91.286a,b) show the hand of this man and part of one of the ducks. The wings of the duck are black on top and gray with feathers delineated in black below. The gray must have been obtained by mixing white with black. The neck and head are also gray, and the body has a vermiculated effect, typical of the species, that was achieved with black brushstrokes over a gray area.7 To the right of the man with the pintails is a group of three running men who pull the rope of a clapnet bird trap that has been set out in a pond in which lotus flowers grow.8 The third Boston fragment (b) shows part of the torso and the left arm of the man in the middle of this group. According to an inscription that Smith places above the Boston fragment (fig. 104), this might have been Nefer-maat and Itet’s son Ankh-er-fened. Part of the right arm of the next figure (possibly their son Wehem-ka) and a bit of the rope are also visible. The rather thick brush lines that outline the limbs and torso are hardly distinguishable from the rest of the painted area, but they help to define such details as the angular elbow and the soft flesh on the inside of the arm of the figure on the right.9
Below the men catching ducks and perhaps other birds with a clapnet is the subregister, which contains the famous geese panel now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo.10 From the bottom register, where the sowing of grain was represented,11 the Manchester fragment (c) has preserved the upper part of the sower and the heads of two cattle that pull a plow. “Plowing” says the inscription above the cattle. “Sowing” must have been written in front of the sower. In his left hand this man holds the typical whip of Old Kingdom farmers and herdsmen, which is made from braided strips of leather with a single strip at the end. Here the sower raises the whip as a token of his superiority—there was no room on the wall to show other cattle under his command in front of him.12 With his raised right hand, held even higher than the left, he throws the seeds onto the earth. The seed bag13 has two elaborate loops at the top that hold a string with which the container is fastened around the sower’s neck and shoulder. With rather striking naturalism the artist allowed the string to disappear behind the sower’s upper right arm14 According to Smith’s reconstruction, a second plow followed the one whose draft cattle are partially preserved on the Manchester fragment. The two plows are positioned behind the sower; they do not break the ground but work the earth to cover the seeds the sower throws15
Like all the men still visible in the painting, the sower wears a flimsy plant fillet around his head and a black-outlined band around his neck from which two lotus flowers hang. As Smith has observed, the ornaments worn by all the men appear to be made of the same plants shown in the geese scene and in and around the pond in which the bird trap is set out. He notes that these ornaments and plants contribute “an attractive unity” to the picture16 The ubiquitous plants with their fresh green also serve to create a festive atmosphere in which the outdoor activities of the men take place. The cattle are differentiated by color: the nearer animal is a dark red-brown, the one behind it a yellowish light brown17 Their eyes are round and have large brown pupils and black lashes.
These few fragments from a once-magnificent large image provide an inkling of the level of quality the art of painting had reached in the early Fourth Dynasty18 It was a level seldom equaled in later Egyptian art19 DoA
- For painting techniques, see Williams 1932, pp. 20-37; N. M. Davies 1936, pp. xxm, xxxi-xlvi, 4-5; and more recently, with analyses, Jaksch 1985.
- See Petrie 1892, pp. 14-15; Petrie, Mackay, and Wainwright 1910, p. 4; Reisner 1936, pp. 221-22, 280, 284; and Smith 1937, pp. 18, 20, fig. 2.
- In a third stage the cruciform chapel disappeared, and a simple niche was built into a new brick layer, now the outermost layer (Petrie 1892, p. 15). No decoration is reported to have been found in the niche of the last stage.
- This ornament is now white but originally was yellow; compare ibid., pl. 23. For the ornament, see Staehelin 1966, pp. 57-60, pl. 8.
- Smith 1937, p. 20.
- Houlihan 1986, pp. 71-73.
- Meinertzhagen 1930, p. 468. For similar effects attained by a Middle Kingdom painter, see Terrace 1967, pls. 7, 26.
- See Smith 1937, pl. 8; and Harpur 1987, p. 178.
- For outlines in Old Kingdom painting, see Williams 1932, p. 22; N. M. Davies 1936, pp. XXXV-XXXVII; and Smith 1946, pp. 265-66.
- Saleh and Sourouzian 1986, no. 26.
- Harpur 1987, pp. 159-60, 204.
- See Smith 1937, p. 20, for dimensions.
- Indicated as yellow by Petrie (1892, pl. 28).
- There is an interesting detail to be observed about this string: where it would have run, if it did not disappear behind the arm, a band of lighter red crosses the dark red limb. A lighter band of the same kind also runs below the string where it crosses the man’s breast to the right of the flower ornament. We can deduce from these traces only that an artist originally intended to show the string in front of the right arm and that this position was changed by the painter who did the final work.
- Harpur 1987, p. 161.
- Smith 1937, pp. 19-20.
- See Smith 1946, p. 266, on the use of different colors for pairs of cattle.
- A glimpse of a predecessor of the Itet paintings is provided by the Third Dynasty tomb of Hesi-re (Quibell 1913, pp. 4-9, pls. 4-6, 9-23).
- Examples of later works of like mastery are provided by the Middle Kingdom Bersha Coffin (Terrace 1967); and the New Kingdom tomb of Kenamun (N. de G. Davies 1930, esp. pls. 34, 50).
Provenance: Meidum, tomb of Nefer-maat and Itet (mastaba 16), north wall of inner brick-lined chamber of Itet (fig. 103P), Mariette excavation, 1871,*' Petrie excavation, 1891**
Bibliography: Petrie 1892, pp. 27-28, pl. 28; Smith 1937, pp. 17-26
* Mariette and Maspero 1889, pp. 473-77; for the date of the work, see Rowe 1931, pp. 8-9.
** At the request of Gaston Maspero, Director of the Egyptian Antiquities Service, Petrie removed the remaining painting fragments to the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, and various European museums. See Smith 1937, pp. 17-26, esp. p. 18, on the provenance of fragments in Boston and other locations.
Early Fourth Dynasty
Egyptian alabaster with faint remains of paint
H. 48.7 cm (19 1/4 in.)
Trustees of the British Museum, London EA 24619
Although individual statues of women from the Old Kingdom are rare, a few, like this alabaster figure in the British Museum, are among the finest works of the period. Once painted, it has traces of black on the wig. The pedestal, feet, and bottom of the dress have disappeared. The subject is standing in the classic pose of a woman, her feet together, arms falling naturally at her sides, and hands open against her thighs. There is no support behind the woman, and although her back is modeled with care it is very stylized. A long tripartite wig frames the delicate face, and each strand is carefully separated from the others by a groove. The subject's natural hair appears on her forehead below the wig. In its expression the full face is extremely gentle. The large eyes are almond shaped, and a horizontal incision accentuates the corners. The upper eyelids are indicated by a fine fold, and the eyebrows are barely suggested. The nose is wide and the mouth soft, with full lips that seem to bear the trace of a smile. A profile view reveals the extreme slenderness of the body and the imposing mass of the wig, which seems to weigh down the head. With their unusually supple fingers and nails carefully defined, the hands give an impression of extreme refinement. The lines of the dress are not visible on the upper torso, and the body under the imperceptible fabric, which conceals fine anatomical details, is treated with great attention. The careful modeling of the body and the plasticity of the flesh are of a quality rarely attained, although they are matched in the statue of the lady Hetep-heres, mother of Ra-wer (cat. no. 131), which is very probably of later date. The treatment of the body of this unknown woman, broad of shoulder and narrow of hip, has also been compared to the group of Hetep-heres II and her daughter Mer-si-ankh.1Certain stylistic features are helpful in dating this work. Rarely after the reign of Menkaure does a subject's natural hair appear on her brow under the wig in this way.2 The tripartite wig, worn in the Third Dynasty by Princess Redjief (cat. no. 16) and Lady Nesa (cat. no. 13), is very rarely depicted in statuary after the beginning of the Fourth Dynasty. Two other features— the absence of a back support and the position of the head, set deep into the shoulders as if weighed down by the abundant hair— are reminiscent of the so-called precanonical sculptures of the Third Dynasty. For all these reasons, the sculpture should be dated to the very beginning of the Fourth Dynasty. But what a distance has been traveled in the treatment of the female body, from the bulky silhouette of Nesa to this harmonious construction, which the translucent stone admirably enhances! CZ
- Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 30.1456; Vandier 1958, p. 55; Fay 1998, p. 162, fig. 7.
- Cherpion 1998, p. 100.
Provenance: Unknown; purchased 1893
Bibliography: Budge 1922, p. 128; Hall 1925, p. 1, pl. 1; Smith 1946, pl. 16b; Vandier 1958, pp. 2, 55, 58, 63, 111, 131, 138, pl. 15; Eaton-Krauss 1998, pl. 2a-d
Early Fourth Dynasty
H. 89.5 cm (35 1/4 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1962 62.200
The formal structure of this figure—defined by the base, the back pillar, and the interplay between the strictly vertical body and the oblique line of the striding left leg—reflects the basic rules that Old Kingdom artists observed in creating statues of men. In its proportions and style, however, the statue differs considerably from other works of the period. The oversize feet, the boldly modeled musculature of the legs, arms, and chest, the short neck, and the low forehead have no parallel in contemporary statues found at Saqqara and Giza, for example. Also unlike works from the Memphite region is the face, with its large eyes, broad, flat nose, deeply incised furrows between nose and mouth, broad mouth, and prognathous jaw.The unusually bold style of the statue suggests a provenance in Upper Egypt, and this supposition is confirmed when the work is compared with another, excavated between Luxor and Aswan, at El Kab.1Although the head is missing, this second work, today in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia (EJ 16160), is so close to the Metropolitan Museum's statue in all its essential aspects that it may safely be called a duplicate. The Philadelphia statue was found in a tomb of the early Fourth Dynasty, and there is little doubt that the Metropolitan statue was created at the same time and in the same place.
An independent style influenced by Nubia, Egypt's southern neighbor, existed in Upper Egypt at the beginning of the Middle Kingdom. This statue appears to provide evidence of a similarly influenced style in the early Fourth Dynasty. Such examples impressively substantiate the African roots of the ancient Egyptian culture. DW
1 Quibell 1898, p. 5, no. 8, pl. 3; Smith 1946, pp. 45, 142; Vandier 1958, pp. 56-57; Wildung 1996, p. 46.
Provenance: Probably El Kab
Bibliography: Fischer 1963, p. 18, n. 6; Hayes 1963, p. 65; Schoske 1986, p. 222, n. 6; Russmann 1995a, p. 277; Wildung 1996, pp. 46-48; Wildung 1999
28. Metjen Seated
H. 47 cm (18 1/2 in.)
Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin 1106
This statue was discovered in the serdab tucked behind the north wall of Metjen's mortuary chapel (see entry for cat. no. 29). Sculpted in red granite (the front of the pedestal is cracked), it depicts the high official sitting on a cubic seat, his right hand closed in a fist and pressed against his chest, his left hand flat on his knee. There is no back support. The head set deep into the shoulders, the slender limbs, the abnormally small proportions of the lower body, and the thin face give the statue an almost sorrowful expression, which is quite unusual in Egyptian art. The face is framed by a round wig that covers the ears, closely hugs the skull, and falls very low in back, concealing the nape of the neck; the rows of curls are indicated by simple concentric grooves. The upper lids of the deep-set eyes are rimmed and extended by cosmetic lines, which, like the eyebrows, are in relief. a marked cleft separates the prominent mouth from the protruding chin. The chest is narrow and the pectorals do not jut out. There are careful indications of the details of the feet and hands. The plain kilt is described simply by the ridge of the belt and an incision for the lower border. The modeling of the back is rudimentary. On the sides and back of the seat large hieroglyphs in relief, inscribed within a rectangular frame, give Metjen's name and a few of his titles, one of them relating to the cult of the king's mother.1
Like the chapel reliefs, the statue can be dated to the reign of Snefru. It marks a very important stylistic division between works from the beginning of the Old Kingdom and the austere statuary of the first part of the Fourth Dynasty. It has certain characteristics of the earlier period: the modest dimensions, the hard stone, the disproportionately large head, and the inscriptions in relief.2 But the position of the hands—right hand on chest, left on knee—is reversed, perhaps inspired by the change of pose introduced into royal statuary by Djoser.3 Finally, the seat is different from those preferred in Third Dynasty statuary, which reflect wood furniture of more ancient times (see cat. no. 15).
A comparison of this statue of Metjen to his likeness in relief illustrates how, at the same historical moment, Egyptian artists could offer very dissimilar interpretations of reality. How different is this compact, almost disproportionate image carved in granite from the elegant silhouette freely inscribed on the chapel walls that dominates the procession of offering bearers! Nevertheless, there are a few points in common between these two representations destined for immortality, such as the slightly raised chin and the wig that covers the nape of the neck. CZ
- Helck 1987, pp. 268-74.
- Eaton-Krauss 1998, pp. 209-27.
- Sourouzian 1998, p. 327.
Provenance: Saqqara, north of Step Pyramid of Djoser, tomb of Metjen (L.S. 6), Prussian expedition led by Lepsius, 1842-45; gift of Mohammed Ali Pasha 1845
Bibliography: Lepsius 1849-58, vol. 2, p. 120 (a-e), vol. 3, p. 288 (1); Smith 1946, p. 18; Porter and Moss 1978, p. 494; Sourouzian 1998, p. 351, fig. 46a,b
29. Relief Blocks from the Mortuary Chapel of Metjen
Fourth Dynasty, reign of Snefru
H., each block ca. 50.5 cm (19 7/8 in.)
Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin 1105.54, 1105.55, 1105.84, 1105.85, 1105.130, 1105.131, 1105.132
The chapel of Metjen is generally dated to the beginning of the Fourth Dynasty, during the reign of Snefru. Among Metjen's many titles as governor and head of expeditions, some include the names of the pharaohs Huni and Snefru. Inscriptions at the chapel also mention offerings from "the funerary estate of the mother of the king [Snefru], Ni-maat-hapi."Metjen's chapel, whose many decorated blocks were dismantled and are now housed in the Ägyptisches Museum in Berlin, is therefore one of the oldest of the period.
It is of modest dimensions, about 265 centimeters (9 feet) long, 75 centimeters (29.5 inches) wide, and more than 300 centimeters (10 feet) high; it was entered through a corridor 215 centimeters (7 feet) long. The structure is cruciform in plan, as the chapel and corridor are at right angles to each other. The blocks of limestone are entirely covered with sculpted columns of inscriptions and with scenes that would become standard in Old Kingdom mastabas. On the rear wall is a false door, a passageway between the world of the living and that of the dead. Metjen appears there, sculpted in the embrasure, moving to the right. Above, he is depicted sitting in front of a table laden with offerings. There is another image of him seated, a middle-aged man with a flabby chest, receiving invocation offerings. On the other side, priests are performing the glorification rite and the Opening of the Mouth ceremony, which will allow him to recover the use of his senses in the next world. He is represented four times in large scale, leaving the chapel. Processions of servants come to meet him, bringing the products of his many properties as well as furnishings and clothes; desert animals parade before him in a stylized hunting scene.
In the corridor and above the false door, magnificently sculpted inscriptions record the seemingly endless litany of his titles and immortalize the official documents relating to his estates. These are contracts of sorts, accompanied by excerpts from royal decrees, having to do with the deceased's landholdings. Metjen's estates maintained his funerary cult after his death: in particular, their products supplied the dead man with food and paid the priests employed at his tomb. These texts, among the oldest and most detailed that survive from ancient Egypt, have interested scholars even more than the pictorial decoration.1 Important for the study of law, they are also of general historical interest, as they retrace the career of the man and precisely describe some of his farms, with their ornamental lakes, orchards of fig trees, and vineyards surrounded by enclosure walls.
The decoration in this tomb, one of the few found intact, is unfinished.2 The scenes are sculpted in high relief and the sharp outlines are drawn with precision. The details are executed with greater care than those in the contemporary mastaba of Ra-hotep (Egyptian Museum, Cairo, temp 19-11-24-3). A great deal of attention was given to the modeling of the heads, faces, and hair.
The blocks shown here come from the south wall of the corridor and from the east and south walls of the chapel; they were located along the lower third of the monument's elevation. One block (a) was placed at the entryway (see fig. 105), set into the sloping facade of the mastaba. A servant enters carrying a basketful of food on his head: this is one of three figures, one above another, representing the "endowments of Metjen." Eleven columns of hieroglyphs separated by vertical lines (b-d) are part of a large inscription that extended from floor to ceiling and which reads from right to left. Reminding the reader that this is property guaranteed by royal decree, it enumerates the twelve endowments of Metjen located in different nomes (provinces) of Lower Egypt. In the fourth column the nome of the goddess Neith, recognizable by her emblem (detail, b), is mentioned immediately above the nome of the wild bull (detail, a). The sixth column cites offerings from the "funerary estate of the mother of the king, Ni-maat-hapi." In the tenth column, hieroglyphs depicting a rectangular lake and trees from an orchard evoke one of the deceased's properties (detail, c). The very large signs, in the spacious arrangement characteristic of the period, are sculpted in careful detail.
On the chapel's east wall, a man is carrying a Dorcas gazelle (e). The artist has shown a great deal of talent in capturing the animal's quivering muzzle. The gazelle is offered to Metjen, whose impassivity contrasts with the animal's suppressed impatience (f). Standing with a long staff in one hand, a scepter in the other, his tall silhouette dominates two registers of offering bearers. His fine profile stands out with simplicity against the background and contrasts with the elaborate wig, with its high crown and radiating locks. The eyes—lined with green cosmetic and rimmed around the upper eyelids—the short, pointed nose, and the well-drawn mouth constitute what seems to be a lifelike portrait.
Is the hunting scene (g) depicted behind Metjen to be attributed to his title, Official of the Desert and Commander of Hunters? The same theme is treated in the tombs of Ra-hotep and Nefer-maat (see entries for cat. nos. 24, 25). The block shown here illustrates a motif repeated on five consecutive registers in Metjen's tomb: processions of oryx, gazelles, and ibex are sculpted in single file side by side or are shown being attacked by a hunting dog, which is cruelly biting their hindquarters. CZ
Egyptian text runs from right to left. Italics indicate the text on the illustrated columns
1. (Document of record) the land administrator, nome ruler, Overseer of Commissions in the Kynopolite nome, Overseer of Messengers:
2. (Re:) the Mendesian nome, town of Ram's Area: a field of 4 aruras (2.7 acres), the people, and everything in the funerary-estate decree of the scribe of stores (Metjen's father). They have been given to one son (Metjen), and he (Metjen) has been made to get the funerary-estate decrees from him (his Father). For he has a document
3. that has been assigned to him at his disposal. To the Overseer of Commissions of the Western Saite nome:
4. There have been founded for him (Metjen) 12 Metjen-foundations of the Saite, Xoite, and Letopolite nomes, whose yield he shall have on festivals.
5. There have been bought for him from many landholders a field of zoo aruras(136 acres),
6. so that offering-hall bread might come forth every day in the ka chapel of the King's Mother Ni-maat-hapi,
7. and an estate 200 cubits long by 200 cubits wide (344.5 x 344.5 feet), with a wall equipped and set with good wood, a very big pool made in it, and planted with figs and grapes.
8. A record of it is in the royal archive, and their names (of the landholders from
whom Metjen purchased the land) are in the royal archive.
9. Very many trees and vines have been planted, from which much wine might come.
10. A vineyard of a hundredth of an arura (297 square feet) has been made for him inside the wall, planted with vines.
11. I-meres, a Metjen -foundation (the name of the 200-arura field), and Sobek's Mound, a Metjen-foundation (the name of the estate).
Translated from the ancient Egyptian by James R Allen
- Goedecken 1976.
- Smith 1946, pp. 151-53.
Provenance: Saqqara, north of Step Pyramid of Djoser, tomb of Metjen (L.S. 6), Prussian expedition led by Lepsius, 1842-45; gift of Mohammed Ali Pasha, 1845
Bibliography: Naville 1897-1913, vol. 1, pp. 142-44; Goedecken 1976; Porter and Moss 1978, pp. 493-94; Priese 1991, no. 14, pp. 24-25; Wildung in Donadoni Roveri and Tiradritti 1998, p. 275, no. 266
Prepared for exhibition "The Sphinx and the Pyramids: One Hundred Years of American Archaeology at Giza," held in 1998 at Harvard University Semitic Museum
H. 15 cm (6 in.); w. 130 cm (5 1/4 in.); d. 130 cm (5 1/4 in.); scale 1:2,000
Harvard University Semitic Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts
The exhibition for which this model was prepared traced the history of excavations on the plateau of Giza conducted by George Reisner over a forty-year period at the beginning of the twentieth century, and those undertaken more recently by Mark Lehner. The scale model shows the results of these excavations, offering the most accurate picture possible of the plateau in antiquity.The first true pyramid, built in Dahshur, south of Saqqara, belonged to Snefru, the immediate predecessor of King Khufu. Thereafter, the tombs of Old Kingdom sovereigns took the form of true pyramids, with one exception, the tomb of Menkaure's successor, Shepseskaf, who for unknown reasons had himself buried in an enormous stone mastaba, today called Mastabat Faraoun. Khufu chose the plateau of Giza for his tomb, the Great Pyramid, and its colossal size and perfect proportions have fired imaginations since antiquity. Khufu's son Djedefre built his pyramid at the neighboring site of Abu Rawash (see entry for cat. no. 54), but Khafre and Menkaure returned to Giza to construct their gigantic funerary complexes. Together with Khufu's pyramid, their monuments are universally acknowledged to be the most extraordinary architectural achievements of all time.
The internal plan of these three pyramids is simple. A corridor beginning at the north face leads to the funerary chamber, where the mummy lay in a sarcophagus placed against the west wall. The straight passageways and ramps required for the workmen and for ventilation were built into the mass of the monument. This was composed of enormous stacks of limestone blocks held together by plaster mortar. Once the funeral ceremony was over, the passages were blocked with huge slabs of granite, designed to prevent access to the burial vault. The exterior was covered with fine, carefully smoothed limestone slabs, giving the monument a sparkling brilliance.
Removed for reuse during the Roman Period, this revetment has now almost totally disappeared, as has the pyramidion, a block carved in the shape of a pyramid, which crowned the edifice. By happy chance, the summit of the pyramid of Khafre still has part of its limestone facing, and the base of Menkaure's pyramid is still adorned with sixteen rows of red granite, allowing us to imagine the original splendor of these monuments.
The measurements themselves convey only a poor idea of the impressiveness of the pyramids. The tallest of these, which bore the name Horizon of Khufu, was originally 146.59 meters (481 feet, 3 inches) high. The length of the sides is 230 meters (755 feet), with a slope of 51°56'. The technical achievements of Khufu's architects are extraordinary, and it is difficult to know which to admire most: the transportation on clay ramps and logs of more than two million blocks, some weighing more than two metric tons; the accuracy of the assemblage (the joints between the facing stones were nearly invisible, less than one millimeter in breadth); the extremely level rows of stone (there is a difference of only 2.1 centimeters [7/8 inch] between opposite ends of a single side); the once-perfect orientation of the faces in relation to the cardinal points; or the alignment of the southeast corner of the three pyramids along a single diagonal, which reveals that the site was conceived as a whole. The existence of a master plan is also attested by the arrangement of the mastabas of princes and courtiers along streets beside the pyramid. They form a veritable city of the dead around each royal tomb, in a grid reflecting the organization of the royal court.
Located northwest of the valley temple of Khafre, the Great Sphinx1 is part of that king's funerary complex and gives it a unique character. The fabulous animal, a reclining lion with a king's head, is sculpted entirely from the limestone rock of the plateau, whose strata are quite visible in the monument. It may represent the pharaoh as an aspect of the god Horus, whose name was among the royal titles of the Fourth Dynasty.
The monuments of Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure at Giza display in perfected form the royal funerary complex characteristic of the Old Kingdom, which had begun to take shape during the reigns of Huni and Snefru at Meidum. The layout changed little thereafter. The pyramid was protected by an enclosing wall, where over time depots and stores of liturgical material accumulated. Structures necessary for the cult and afterlife of the king and his family surrounded the pyramid. The north-south axis of the building was marked on the north by the long descending access route leading to the burial chamber and on the south by the presence of a small structure, often a satellite pyramid, the pharaoh's Southern Tomb. Khufu's Southern Tomb has recently been found, and there are still questions about its ritual role, just as there are about Djoser's Southern Tomb at Saqqara. The east-west axis, which reflected the solar cycle, became the more important of the two beginning in the Fourth Dynasty and underwent a significant architectural development. An upper temple was attached to the east face of the pyramid; it was the principal site of the royal cult, and its most secret chamber contained a room for statues and a sanctuary. It was connected to a covered causeway leading to the Nile; once decorated with reliefs, the causeway ended at a second temple, called the lower temple or valley temple. This building was the starting point for the funerary procession leading up to the pyramid, and the sovereign was worshiped there before his death. Closer than other structures of the complex to the world of the living, this valley temple was equipped with a wharf overlooking a canal, an actual funerary port where boats could dock and unload cargo and passengers bound for the necropolis. Not far away was "the city of the pyramid." Here lived the priests and the many employees involved in the day-today maintenance of the king's cult. Very often it was still active centuries after his death. At Dahshur, south of Saqqara, stelae have been exhumed bearing decrees that exempt its inhabitants from corvees and taxes for all eternity.
At Giza, some of the funerary monuments have been excavated. They are among the most magnificent in existence, particularly the valley temple of Khafre, with its harmoniously austere spaces adorned with monumental pillars in red granite. The buried causeway, valley temple, and port of Khufu's pyramid are threatened by the encroaching western suburbs of Cairo. However, excavations continue, and recent ones have brought to light the workshops and cemetery of both the foremen and the workers who built the great pyramids.
Boats made of brick, stone, or wood were buried near the royal tomb to accompany the deceased king on his last journey. Five have been found at the foot of Khufu's pyramid; the most spectacular of these, made of cedar from Lebanon, were deposited disassembled in enormous pits dug to the south of the pyramid. One of these barks has been rebuilt, and it measures more than 43 meters (141 feet) in length. More modest pyramids nearby house the tombs of the king's wives and mother. The precinct of Khufu has three well-preserved tombs of this sort, and the funerary furnishings of Hetep-heres I, his mother, were discovered in a shaft not far from the northernmost of the small pyramids (cat. nos. 31-33). CZ
1. H. 20 m (66 ft.); 1. 72.55 m (238 ft.). Porter and Moss 1974, pp. 3, 5-38; Zivie-Coche 1997.
Bibliography: Porter and Moss 1974, pp. 7-47; Edwards 1979; Hawass 1987; Stadelmann 1990; Lehner 1997, pp. 106-37; Adam and Ziegler 1999, pp. 127-30