The mastaba of Nikauhor belongs to the group of mastabas outside the northern enclosure wall of the Djoser complex, which was excavated in 1907/08 by Quibell. He writes: "The west wall has been sold to the Metropolitan Museum of New York. The three other walls, which must suffer a good deal each time they are exposed to the air, were copied before they were again filled." Quibell published modest line drawings of this wall decoration (pl. 62-66).
The exact location of the mastaba has not beem established. However, one can conclude from Quibell’s numbering system that S 915 followed the Shepsesre mastaba (see 13.183.3, the Tomb of Perneb) somewhere to the east.
Nikauhor was a judge and a priest of Userkaf's sun temple and the royal mortuary cult in the nearby king’s pyramid. His wife, Sekhemhathor, was a priestess of Hathor and Neith. Nikauhor may have been a contemporary of Userkaf but a date down to Niuserre or even later has been suggested.
No documentation of the tomb exists but it seems to have consisted of a north-south oriented chapel with two false doors in the long wall of the west side. According to the MMA plan the chapel was 5.15 m long and 1.12 m wide. This plan is not an excavation plan but was reconstructed in the Museum. The entrance to the chapel was from the east. The west wall was of good quality limestone and decorated with fine relief. The other three walls were of local, "marly" limestone. One can assume that the mastaba core consisted of brick and that only the chapel was cased with limestone.
The chapel west wall in the Metropolitan Museum has two recessed false doors, which create 5 sections. The false door niche on the left, flanked by figures of Nikauhor, belongs to the tomb owner; the false door on the right, flanked by figures of the couple, belongs to his wife.
Originally, as typical in tomb decoration, an offering slab above each false door. Nikauhor's offering slab is missing. That of Sekhemhathor, which was originally placed above her false door, has been displaced to the left in the Museum’s display because of the height of the wall. The first display in the Museum included a reconstructed door drum above the left false door.
The wall space between the false doors is decorated with three registers of activities. The top register includes the playing of the senet-game, and musicians singing and playing the harp and the flute. A procession of offering bearers marches in the middle register and butchers slaughter cattle in the lower register.
The two spaces at the ends of the wall show three registers with offering bearers.
White outlines among and over the figures of the uppermost preserved register include traces of chair legs and the leg of a large seated figure, which belonged to an erased scene.
Dieter Arnold, 2015