Block depicting Niankhwadjet from the frame of the false door niche of her husband Mery

Old Kingdom
Dynasty 4
ca. 2575–2520 B.C.
From Egypt, Memphite Region, Saqqara, Djoser precinct, north of the Step pyramid
H. 128 × W. 33 × D. 14.5 cm (50 3/8 × 13 × 5 11/16 in.)
Credit Line:
Museum Accession
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 103
On the large, vertical block of relief, Niankhwadjet inhales the scent of a lotus, associated with rebirth because the flower opens each morning for the sun. Her daughter Djefaibi, one hand on her chest in a respectful gesture, clings to her mother's leg. On the perpendicular surface at the right may be seen part of the figure of Mery, Niankhwadjet's husband and the owner of the mastaba
in which these chapel reliefs were found. A portion of a lintel block (67.50) gives some of Mery's priestly and administrative titles.

These two blocks originally formed part of a deep niche in a double recessed false door. The figure of Mery would have been seen on the front of the door frame of one niche, and his wife would have appeared on the inner side, where she would have flanked yet another figure of Mery. Deep false-door niches of this kind that physically evoke a space of passage were popular
in the first half of the Fourth Dynasty.
Above Niankhwadjet's figure:

rx.t-nswt Hm(.t)-nTr-Hw.t-Hr nb(.t)-jmAx n.j-anx-wAD.t
King's acquaintance, priestess of Hathor, possessor of reverence, Niankhwadjet

Above the daughter

DfA-jb Sr
Djefaibi Jr.

Mery's image appear on the other side of the corner. Above him one can stil see a few of his titles:

Hm-[nTr] rnn.wtt Hm-[nTr] Hr.wj
[nb-jmAx x]r nTr jm.j-r' pr-HD mr.y

Priest of Renenutet, priest of the two Horuses
[possessor of reverence befo]re the god, overseer of the treasury Mery

Niv Allon 2016
Discovered in the Museum "mezzanine storeroom" in 1935. Unknown previously to the Egyptian Art Department, so thought to have been there since before the establishment of the latter in 1906.

Hayes, William C. 1953. Scepter of Egypt I: A Background for the Study of the Egyptian Antiquities in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: From the Earliest Times to the End of the Middle Kingdom. Cambridge, Mass.: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 88-89, fig. 48.