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The mastaba pit and sarcophagus chamber.

Characteristics of the earliest mastabas.

to conduct to them the smoke of incense or perfume. The
interior of the serdāb is never inscribed, and nothing but
statues, inscribed with the names and titles of the persons
whom they represented, have ever been found in them.
Statues were at times placed in the court in front of the
mastaba. The pit, square or rectangular in form, but never
round, leads to the chamber where the mummy was laid ;
it is situated in the middle of the greater axis of the mastaba
nearer to the north than the south, and varies in depth from
40 to 80 feet. The top part of the pit where it passes
through the platform on which the mastaba stands, is built of
fine large stones. There was neither ladder nor staircase,
leading to the funereal chamber at the bottom of the pit,
hence the coffin and the mummy when once there were
inaccessible. At the bottom of the pit, on the south side, is an
opening into a passage from four to five feet high; this
passage leads obliquely to the south-east, in the same direction
as the upper chamber, and soon after increases in size in all
directions, and thus becomes the sarcophagus chamber. This
chamber is exactly under the upper chamber, and the
relatives of the deceased in standing there, would have the de-
ceased beneath their feet. In one corner of the lower chamber
stood the rectangular sarcophagus made of fine calcareous
stone, rose granite or black basalt; the top of the cover was
rounded. The upper chamber contained no statues, ushabtiu
figures, amulets, canopic jars, nor any of the numerous things
which formed the furniture of the tomb in later times; in the
sarcophagus were, at times, a pillow or a few vases, but little
else. When the body had been placed in the sarcophagus,
and the cover of the sarcophagus had been cemented down
on it, the entrance to the passage at the bottom of the pit
was walled up, the pit itself was filled with stones, earth and
sand, and the deceased was thus preserved from all ordinary
chances of disturbance.
The tombs of the mastaba class stop suddenly at the end
of the first six dynasties; of tombs belonging to one of the
first three dynasties, M. Mariette found 4 at Sakkârah ; of
the IVth dynasty 43 ; of the Vth dynasty 61 ; and of the
VIth dynasty 25. The mastabas of the first three dynasties

have but one upper chamber, which is built of brick, the stelae are very deeply cut, the hieroglyphics and the figures are in relief, and display more vigour than at any other time; the inscriptions are terse, and the use of phonetic signs less common than in later times. These tombs can hardly be said to be oriented at all, for they are, at times, as much as twelve degrees west of the true north. In the second half of the IVth dynasty, mastabas have a size and extent hitherto unknown; they are either built entirely of black brick or of stone. Their orientation becomes accurate, the figures and hieroglyphics are well executed, the formulae become fixed, and the statues in the serdābs, which are very numerous, unite the vigour of those of the first half of the IVth with the delicacy of those of the Vth dynasty. The famous wooden statue of the Shēkh el-Beled belongs to this time. In the Vth dynasty mastabas are not so large, but they are always built of stone; inside there are more chambers than one, approached by long passages, and the statues are not so characteristic as those of the latter half of the IVth dynasty. The mastabas of the VIth dynasty show a decided decadence, and lose their fine proportions; the figures are in light relief, the formulae become longer, and the chambers are built of brick and covered with thin sculptured slabs of stone.

The walls of the upper chambers of mastabas were frequently covered with scenes which, according to M. Mariette, are without any representation of divinities and religious emblems, the names of deities, and characters employed in the course of writing naturally excepted. The inscription which asks the god Anubis to grant a happy burial to the deceased, after a long and happy old age, to make his way easy for him on the roads in the underworld, and to grant the bringing to the tomb a perpetual supply of funereal gifts, is inscribed in bold hieroglyphics over the entrances to the tomb, and upon the most conspicuous places on the stelae in the upper chamber. The scenes depicted on the walls of the mastabas are divided by Mariette into three classes: I, Biographical, 2, Sepulchral, and 3, those relating to funereal gifts. Biographical scenes are sound in tombs of all periods. The deceased is

Ornamentation of the


and in-

represented hunting or fishing, taking part in pleasure excursions by water, and listening to music played before him accompanied by the dancing of women ; he is also represented as overseer of a number of building operations in which many workmen are employed. It is tolerably certain that these scenes are not fictitious, and that they were painted while the person who hoped to occupy the tomb was still alive, and could direct the labours of the artist. The prayer that the deceased might enter his tomb after a

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long and prosperous life has a significance which it could not possess if the tomb were made after his death. The sepulchral scenes refer to the passage of the mummy in a boat to Amenta. The scenes relating to sepulchral gifts

Cattle on the March. From a Vth dynasty Tomb at Sakkârah.


Endow. ment of tombs.

represent the deceased, having colossal proportions compared with the other figures, sitting or standing with a round table before him, upon which fruits, flowers, vegetables, ducks, haunches of beef, etc., etc., are placed. These offerings are sometimes carried in before the deceased on the head or hands of servants and others, who often lead beasts appointed for slaughter; they were brought into the tomb in an appointed order, and an endowment to ensure their presentation in the tomb on the specified festivals and seasons was specially provided. The scenes in the tombs which represent agricultural labours, the making of wine, etc., etc., all have reference to the bringing of funereal gifts; and it seems that certain estates

nut ent pa t'etta, “estates of the house of everlasting” (i.e., the tomb), were set apart to supply palm branches, fruit, etc., for the table of the dead. The act of bringing these gifts to the tomb at the appointed seasons was probably connected with some religious ceremony, which seems to have consisted in pouring out libations and offering incense, bandages, etc., by the joy cher heb or priest. The Egyptian called the tomb pa pa t'etta, “ the everlasting house,” and he believed that the ka U or “genius” of the deceased resided there as long as the mummy of his perishable body, 32 cha, was there. The ka might go in and out of the tomb, and refresh itself with meat and drink, but it never failed

back to the mummy with the name of which it seems to have been closely connected;" the N ba or soul, and the 5 chu or intelligence did not live in the tomb.

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THE PYRAMIDS. The royal tombs of the early dynasties were built in the form of pyramids, and they are, to all intents and purposes, merely mastabas, the greater parts of which are above

1 Herz und Leib vereint bilden das W oder die Persönlichkeit des Menschen, das dem Individuum eigenthümliche Wesen, die ihn von andern unterscheidet und mit seinem Namen in engster Verbindung steht. Brugsch, Die Aegyptologie,

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p. 181.

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