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flat, for the face of each course of masonry, formed of stones
laid vertically, is a little behind the one beneath it, and if
these recesses were a little deeper, the external appearance
of each side of the building would resemble a flight of steps.
The stones which form the mastabas are of a moderate size,
and with the exception of those used for the ceiling and
architrave, have an average height of 18 or 20 inches. The
height and length of the mastaba vary; the largest measures
about 17o feet long by 86 feet wide, and the smallest about
26 feet long by 20 feet wide; they vary in height from 13 to
30 feet. The ground at Sakkârah is formed of calcareous
rock covered to the depth of a few feet with sand; the
foundations of the mastabas are always on the solid rock.
The plan of the mastaba is a rectangle, and the greater axis
of the rectangle is, without exception, in the direction from
north to south. Moreover,
at the pyramids of Gizeh,
where the mastabas are ar-
ranged symmetrically, the
plan of their arrangement | |
is like a chess-board, the

squares of which are uni- 2% –"
formly elongated towards . . .
the north. Mastabas then
are oriented astronomically
towards the true north, and in the cases where they are a few
degrees out, this difference must be attributed not to design
but to negligence. It has been asserted that mastabas are only
unfinished pyramids, but properly considered, it is evident that
they form a class of buildings by themselves, and that they
have nothing in common with the pyramid, save in respect of
being oriented towards the north, this orientation being the
result, not of a studied imitation of the pyramid, but of a
religious intention, which at this early period influenced the
construction of all tombs, whatever their external form. The
mastabas at Sakkârah are built of stone and brick; the stone
employed is of two kinds, the one being very hard, and of a
bluish-grey colour, and the other being comparatively soft, and
of a yellowish colour. The bricks also are of two kinds, the

6. Transverse section at the bottom of a serdāb.

Plan and position of mastabas.

Orientation of mastabas.


one yellowish, and the other black ; both sorts were sun-dried only. The bricks of a yellowish colour seem to have been used entirely during the earliest dynasties, and the black ones only appear with the second half of the IVth dynasty. However carefully the outside of the mastaba was built, the inside is composed of sand, pieces of stone thrown in without design or arrangement, rubble, rubbish, etc., and but for the outside walls holding all together many of them must have perished long since. The eastern face of the mastaba is the most important, for, four times out of five, the entrance

is in it; it is sometimes, but very rarely, bare. Some yards from the north-east corner is, at times, a very high, narrow opening, at the bottoin of which the masonry of the mastaba itself assumes the form of long vertical grooves, which distinguish the stelæ of this epoch ; a stele, with or without inscription, sometimes takes the place of this opening. At a distance of some feet from the south-east corner is generally another opening, but larger, deeper and more carefully made ; at the bottom of this is sometimes a fine inscribed calcare

ous stone stele, and sometimes a 7. The upper chamber, the small architectural façade, in the

pit, and the sarcophagus centre of which is a door. When chamber of a Maştaba.

the eastern face has the opening at the south-east corner which has just been described, the mastaba has no interior chamber, for this opening takes its place. When the maștaba has the façade in the place of the opening, there is a chamber within. When the entrance to the mașțaba is made on the north side, the façade is brought back to the end of a kind of vestibule, and at the front of this vestibule are set up two monolithic columns, without abacus, and without base, which support the architrave, which supports the ceiling. The entrance to the mastaba is


The stele in maş. tabas.

sometimes made from the south, but never from the west; the top of the mastaba is quite flat.

The interior of the complete maștaba consists of three The parts, the chamber, the serdab, and the pit. Having entered mastaba

chamber. the Chamber by the door in the side, it is found to be either without any ornamentation whatever, or to be covered with sculptures. At the bottom of the chamber usually facing the

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east, is a stele, which, whether the walls are inscribed or not, is always inscribed. At the foot of the stele, on the bare ground, is often a table of offerings made of granite, alabaster, or calcareous stone; two obelisks, or two supports for offerings, are often found at each side of this table. Besides these things the chamber has no furniture, and it rarely has a door. B. M.


Not far from the chamber, oftener to the south than to the
north, and oftener to the north than to the west, is a lofty but
narrow nook hidden in the thickness of the masonry, and built
with large stones; this nook is called the Serdâb.' Sometimes
the serdâb has no communication whatever with the other
parts of the mastaba, but sometimes a rectangular passage, so

Use of

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9. Figures in relief in a Maştaba at Gizeh. Vth dynasty.

narrow that the hand can only be inserted with difficulty, leads from the serdâb into the chamber; in the serdâb statues of the deceased were placed and the narrow passage served

1 A serdáb, ulo now, strictly speaking, is a lofty, vaulted, subterranean chamber, with a large opening in the north side to admit air in the hot weather.

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10. West wall of a chamber in the tomb of Ptah-hetep. Vth dynasty.


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