Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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West wall of the chapel of Kaemsenu with niches for Iretnub, Kaemsenu and Werdjedptah

Period:
Old Kingdom
Dynasty:
Dynasty 5–6
Date:
ca. 2420–2389 B.C.
Geography:
From Egypt, Memphite Region, Saqqara, Teti Pyramid Cemetery, at NW corner of Teti Pyramid enclosure, Tomb of Kaemsenu, west wall of cult chapel, Firth/Egyptian Antiquities Service, 1926
Medium:
Limestone, paint
Credit Line:
Gift of Edward S. Harkness, 1926
Accession Number:
26.9.1
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 103
Kaemsenu was a priest associated with the cult of King Sahure, with the sun temple of King Neferirkare, and with the pyramid of King Niuserre. The wall of his chapel incorporates three offering niches: the one on the left for his wife Iretnub, in the center for himself, and on the right for Werdjedptah (probably a relative) and his wife. One of Kaemsenu's statues has been placed behind the wall where it originally sat in the small serdab (statue chamber) and is visible through a slot in the wall.

The hieroglyphs preserve an array of colors: pale yellow, red and brown from ochers, green from malachite, blue from Egyptian blue (a composite material used as a colorant), white from gypsum, and black from a form of carbon. In many cases, the pigments clearly were chosen to approximate the colors that the figures and objects forming the hieroglyphs would have had in nature. Other choices are less obvious-such as the blue consistently used to represent pots that are known to us in copper. Final outlines are either in red or black, depending apparently on which seemed to complement the colors of the sign.
History

A relatively good map of 1922 by Firth shows that the mastaba of Kaemsenu stands in the necropolis at Saqqara, near the northwest corner of the pyramid enclosure of Teti, 7 m west of the southwest corner of the mastaba of Mereruka. The area of the tomb is now sanded over again.

Kaemsenu was a priest associated with the cult of King Sahure, the sun temple of King Neferirkare, and with the pyramid of King Niuserre. Cherpion concludes from her statistics that Kaemsenu’s mastaba must date to the reign of Niuserre and cannot be later. However, the location of the tomb suggests rather that Kaemsenu cannot have built his tomb before the completion of the enclosure wall of the Teti pyramid. The tomb may therefore date to the Sixth Dynasty.
The tomb would show that the cult of the mentioned monuments of the Fifth Dynasty was still maintained in the Sixth Dynasty and that the priests were not necessarily buried near the place of their employment.
Description

The 25 m long brick mastaba was obviously a family tomb with five cult chapels along the east side and numerous burial shafts. Kaemsenu seems to have been the builder of the complex because his cult chapel was the largest and the only one cased with limestone. The cult chamber was actually a north-south running corridor, less than 1 m wide and ca. 3.1 m long. Behind the cult chapel was a small serdab that connected with the cult chamber by means of a narrow window slot. The decorated west wall was removed in 1926 and purchased by the Metropolitan Museum. The brick walls in front of the mastaba entrance seem to be a later addition to the stone front of the chapel.

The false door of Kaemsenu opens in the center of the wall. His wife Iretnub and their son Ptahshepses are depicted left of the opening into the serdabs. An unfinished, small false door slot is carved beneath their feet.
A smaller false door of Werdjededptah and his wife Khenut is attached to the north side of the main one. Their relationship to Kaemsenu is not recorded. The wall is only decorated with inscriptions and figures of the above-mentioned deceased but does not include action scenes.

The hieroglyphs preserve an array of colors: pale yellow, red and brown from ochers, green from malachite, blue from Egyptian blue (a composite material used as a colorant), white from gypsum, and black from a form of carbon. In many cases, the pigments clearly were chosen to approximate the colors that the figures and objects forming the hieroglyphs would have had in nature. Other choices are less obvious, such as the blue consistently used to represent pots that are known to us in copper. Final outlines are either in red or black, depending apparently on which seemed to complement the colors of the sign.

The serdabs contained remains of standing wood figures. Directly behind the serdabs, the largest shaft of the mastaba (no. 242) leads after 11 m into the burial chamber, most probably that of the mastaba owner. It contained a male, slightly contracted skeleton in a rectangular, paneled wood coffin. Three jars were near the east wall.

Dieter Arnold, 2016

Top Inscription

 

Htp Di nswt Htp jnp.w jm.j-wt xnt.j-zH-nTr nb-tA-Dsr tp(.j)-Dw=f Htp Di nTr aA nb qrs nfr m Xr.t-nTr j.hA=f nfr m jz=f pn nb jmAx xr nTr aA (2) jAw.w nfr wr.t m jmAx.w xr nb.w Xr.t-nTr pr.t xrw n=f t' Hnq.t m wp-rnp.t DHw.t(y)t tp.j-rnp.t wAg HAb zkr wr rkH pr.t-mnw Abd-n-sAD HAb n bra nb (3) Hm-nTr raw m s.t-jb-raw wab sAH.w-raw Hm-nTr nfr-jr-kA-raw Hm-nTr mn-s.wt-n.j-wsr-raw jmAx.w xr nTr aA jm.j-r’-Snw.t (4) KA-m-sn.w


(1) An offering which the King gives (and) an offering of Anubis Imiut who presides over the divine booth, lord of the sacred land, who is upon his mound, an offering which the great god gives, lord of a beautiful burial in the necropolis, may he descend to this tomb of his, possessor of reverence before the great god (2) (being) of greatly good old age as possessor of reverence before the gods of the necropolis, an invocation offering (given) to him at the New-Year's-Day (festival), at the Thoth (festival), at the Beginning-of-the-Year (festival), at the Wag (festival), at the Great-Sokar-Festival, at the Burning (festival), at the Month-Festival-of-Sadj, at the Appearance-of-Min (festival), and every festival and every day (3) the Priest of Re at Favorite-Place-of-Re (sun temple of Neferirkare), Wab-priest of Sahure, Priest of Neferirkare, Priest of The-places-of-Neuserre-endure (pyramid complex of Neuserre), revered before the great god and Overseer of the Granary (4) Kaemsenu


Left False Door

Inscription above the seated figure: Jm.j-r’-Snw.t kA-m-sn.w, Overseer of the Granary, Kaemsenu

Below: rx-nswt kA-m-sn.w, Royal acquaintance, Kaemsenu

Inner inscriptions (left and right):

Jm.j-r’-Snw.t jr wD.t nb=f ran b jm.j-r’-Snw.t rx-nswt kA-m-sn.w

Overseer of the Granary, who does everything his lord orders, Overseer of the Granary, Kaemsenu

Jm.j-r’-baH.t n.t nswt jmAx.w xr nTr aA rx nswt kA-m-sn.w

Overseer of the all of the king’s abundance, who is revered before the great god, royal acquaintance, Kaemsenu

Outer inscription (left and right):

Htp Di nswt xp=f Hr WA.wt nfr.wt xpp.t jmAx.w Hr=sn nb jmAx xr nTr aA jm.j-r’-Snw.t kA-m-sn.w

Offering which the king gives, so that he may travel upon the good ways upon which the revered travel, possessor of reverence before the great god, Overseer of the Granary, Kaemsenu

Htp Di nswt pr.t xrw n=f t’ Hnq.t m wp-rnp.t DHw.t(y)t tp.j-rnp.t wAg HAb-zkr-wr rkH HAb nb ra nb n kA-m-sn.w

Offering which the king gives, so that an innovation offering (would be given) to him, bread and bear, at the New-Year's-Day (festival), at the Thoth (festival), at the Beginning-of-the-Year (festival), at the Wag (festival), at the Great-Sokar-Festival, at the Burning (festival), and at every festival and every day, to Kaemsenu


Left of False Door

(1) Htp Di nswt Di(.w) n=f pr.t-xr.w nb.t m pr n nswt jt m Snw.t Hbs,w mrH.t m [pr-]HD (2) (j)x.t bn.yt m pr-aq.t a.t n.t jwf r rw.t-js.t pr.t xrw nb.t DD.t n jmAx.w m pr-nswt m Aw.t D.t Hm-nTr ra [m s.t-jb-raw [Hm-nTr]-bA-nfr-jr-kA-raw wab-mn-s.wt-n.j-wsr-raw jm.j-r’-Snw.t jmAx.w [xr nTr aA KA-m-sn.w]

Offering which the king gives, so that he may be given every invocation offering from the palace, barley from the granary, cloths and ointments from the treasury, sweet things from the house of provisions, a cut of meat at the Rut-Iset and every invocation offering which is given to one revered in the palace for the span of eternity, the Priest of Re at Favorite-Place-of-Re (sun temple of Neferirkare), the Priest of the Ba-of-Neferirkare, Wab-Priest-of-the-places-of-Neuserre-endure (pyramid complex of Neuserre), revered before the great god and Overseer of the Granary (4) Kaemsenu

The three figures are identified in the inscription above them and above the smaller figure:

Hm-nTr-raw Hm-nTr Hw.t-Hr.w m s.t-jb-raw jm.j-r’-Snw.t jmAx.w xr nTr aA nb Xr.t-nTr KA-m-sn.w

Priest of Re and Priest of Hathor at Favorite-Place-of-Re (sun temple of Neferirkare), Overseer of the Granary, revered before the great god, lord of the necropolis, Kaemsenu.

Hm.t=f mr.yt=f rx.t-nswt Hm.t-nTr Hw.t-Hr.w jr.t-nbw

His beloved wife, the royal acquaintance, priestess of Hathor, Iretnebu

zA=f PtH-Spss

His Son, Pathshepses

Right Side

Htp Di nswt Htp jnp.w xnt.j zx-nTr (2) Di dy n kA-m-sn.w dbH.t-Htp apr.t

Offering which the king gives (and) Anubis who presides upon the divine booth (so that) a gift would be given to Kaemsenu, an equipped offering meal.

[Below an offering list a large variety of offerings, including water, incense, nourishments, and ointments.]


Right False Door


Top inscription: Htp Di nswt Htp jnp.w xnt.j-zX-nTr qrs m Xr.t-nTr jAw.w nfr wr.t nb jmAx zAb-zXA.w zAb-sHD-zXA.ww zAb-jm.j-r’-zXA.w wr-Ddd-ptH

Offering which the king gives (and) an offering of Anubis who presides upon the divine booth; may (he) be buried in the necropolis in greatly good old age, possessor of reverence, the senior-scribe, the juridical inspector of scribes, the senior overseer of scribes, Werdjedptah


Inscription above two figures

jmAx.w xr nTr aA wr-Ddd-ptH (from the center left)

Revered before the great god, Werdjedptah

Hm.t=f rx.t-nswt xn.wt (from the center right)

His wife, the royal acquaintance, Khenut


Below seated figures:

zAb-zXA.w zAb-sHD-zXA.ww zAb-jm.j-r’-zXA.w wr- Ddd-ptH

The senior-scribe, the juridical inspector of scribes, the senior overseer of scribes, Werdjedptah


Inner Inscriptions (left and right)

rx-nswt jmAx.w xr nb=f Hm-nTr wab nswt wr-Ddd-ptH

Royal acquaintance, revered before his lord, priest and royal wab priest, Werdjedptah

zAb-jm.j-r’-zXA.ww Hr.j-sStA Hm-nTr-mAa.t wr-Ddd-ptH

The senior overseer of scribes, privy to the secrets, priest of Maat, Werdjedptah


Outer Inscriptions (left and right)

zAb-sHD-jr.j-mDA.t Hr.j-sStA n Hw.t-Hr.w wr-Ddd-ptH

Juridicial inspector of bookkeepers, privy to the secrets of Hathor, Werdjedptah

jmAx.w xr nTr aA wr-Ddd-ptH

Revered before the great god, Werdjedptah


Niv Allon 2017
Purchased from the Egyptian Government, 1926.

Cherpion, Nadine 1989. Mastabas et Hypogées d'Ancien Empire: la Problème de la Datation. Brussels: Connaissance de l'Egypte ancienne, pp. 136–37.

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