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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 serdab 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 deceased 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. Marictte found 4 at Sakkarah; of the IVth dynasty 43; of the Vth dynasty 61; and of the Vlth 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 serdabs, 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 Shekh 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 Vlth 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 Ornameufrequently covered with scenes which, according to M. ^.ut°n Mariette, are without any representation of divinities and masfaba. 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: 1, Biographical, 2, Sepulchral, and 3, those relating to funereal gifts. Biographical scenes are found in tombs of all periods. The deceased is
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 Scenes in which many workmen are employed. It is tolerably "notions, 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 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