Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object
{{img.publicCaption}}

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
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.

Related Objects

Tomb Chapel of Raemkai: East Wall

Date: ca. 2446–2389 B.C. Medium: Limestone, paint Accession: 08.201.1f On view in:Gallery 102

Tomb Chapel of Raemkai: South Wall

Date: ca. 2446–2389 B.C. Medium: Limestone, paint Accession: 08.201.1g On view in:Gallery 102

Tomb Chapel of Raemkai: North Wall

Date: ca. 2446–2389 B.C. Medium: Limestone, paint Accession: 08.201.1c On view in:Gallery 102

Tomb Chapel of Raemkai: West Wall

Date: ca. 2446–2389 B.C. Medium: Limestone, paint Accession: 08.201.1d On view in:Gallery 102

Tomb Chapel of Raemkai

Date: ca. 2446–2389 B.C. Medium: Limestone, paint Accession: 08.201.1 On view in:Gallery 102