Tomb Of Mereruka
The Tomb of Mereruka
It is the biggest Old Kingdom tomb found in Saqqara. During the Fourth Dynasty, Mereruka was given several vital positions while King Teti ruled the land. Mereruka was the Scribe of the Divine Books and Inspector of Priests and Tenants, just to name a few.
Mereruka was an even more important figure after he married Princess Seshseshet, who was the oldest daughter of the king. When you visit the Pyramid of Teti, go to the northern side, and you will find the complex that is devoted to Mereruka. There are several Old Kingdom tombs at the pyramid, but Mereruka has the largest tomb.
In 1892, a man named Jaques de Morgan performed the first excavation of the tomb. It is a famous tomb because it reflects the customs and traditions of everyday life that took place during the days of the Old Kingdom.
The tomb is an elaborate mastaba consisting of 32 different chambers that were split into 3 burial areas for Mereruka, Princess Seshseshet, and Meriteti (their son). The southern side of the complex is where the entrance is located. This was an unusual place to put an entrance to a tomb during this time period. However, the entrance to the tomb was put there because it faces the entrance to the Pyramid of Teti
Mereruka is portrayed in 2 reliefs on the jambs of the entrance. His wife, Seshseshet, is seen in front of him as a smaller figure. When you enter the tomb, you can go right to find Mereruka’s room. This area of the tomb contains 21 chambers, but some appear to be storerooms while others are decorated.
Hippopotamus hunting scenes can be found in the first chamber of the tomb, as well as scenes of hunting fowl for food in the marshes. The opposite wall in the chamber contains fishing scenes, including a battle between a crocodile and hippopotamus. If you visit the next room in the chamber, you’ll see industrial scenes and desert hunting remains.
The wall on the right showcases the various industries and crafts of that time period. You’ll see jewelers, metal workers, sculptors, vase makers, and carpenters. Dwarfs make up some of the jewelers of the scenes. They used to be goldsmiths, and you can see them utilizing blowpipes around a furnace in order to increase the molten metal temperature. Adults are seen weighing and assessing the precious metals, then recording them.
If you go into the next room, preparations went into the food and fishing by Mereruka and the people of his family. The village headmen give reports about this to the scribes who record them. The damaged reliefs in the room show a man at a whipping post getting beaten, but it is hard to tell anything else because of the extent of the damage.
If you turn left, you’ll find a narrow chamber with reliefs which showcase more scribes and their records of men who bring gazelles and other animals. You can see the animals were delivered to the estates of Mereruka and Seshseshet (his wife). The end wall bears the remains of 4 poultry-yard registers which show cranes being fed. An opening to a serdab chamber is seen too. The right-hand wall has reliefs which show fishing remains.
At the end of the room, you’ll find a doorway that takes you to several chambers. The decorations of the rooms are pretty much the same. The false door of Mereruka is to the left. The walls on both sides contain offering bringers. If you explore this section further, the other chambers have storerooms and offering rooms with no decorations in them at all. There is too much damage to the scenes.
In Mereruka’s area, the eastern side has a chamber that you can find to the left. It is an opening that leads to a burial shaft. The limestone sarcophagus holding Mereruka’s remains are found inside the shaft. Ancient tomb raiders and thieves destroyed the mummy and stole the value jewels that had been placed on its body.
There are 6 square columns in the main hall. The funerary rites of Mereruka are found on reliefs to the left. The rites show Mereruka’s coffin being carried and then delivered to the tomb by boat. The coffin is accompanied by dancers, clappers, priests, and mourners. Mereruka is depicted on the northern wall, which shows him in a sedan chair getting carried around. He is followed around by his family, pet dogs, dwarfs, a monkey, and his attendants.
Go to the right further, and you’ll see his mother and his wife prior to scenes involving cattle rearing and building boats. Some scenes show two men forcibly feeding hyenas with pieces of meat. They try to get the hyenas to swallow these meat pieces. The purpose of this practice was to prevent the hyenas from eating any of the other wild animals they caught since hyenas were hunting animals.
A life-size statue in a deep niche shows Mereruka next to an offering table. The far-right contains a doorway that takes you to the section of the tomb that is devoted to Meriteti. Both sides of the doorway show Mereruka, Seshseshet, and his mother looking at the children as they play games. The boys play athletic games, harvest figs, and catch birds. The girls do a mirror dance and swing each other around.
The east wall also shows Mereruka and Seshseshet performing all sorts of activities, but the upper registers are missing, so it is hard to tell what they are. First, you can see them sitting with attendants while playing a board game called senet. This was a chess-like game that was popular back then.
As you continue on further, you can see them sitting underneath shades from the sun and watching various agricultural activities, including donkeys carrying produce, threshing, ploughing, sheave stacking, and flax pulling. Mereruka is depicted in this hall by five pillars, with the central pillar showing Meriteti on its southern face.
The section of the tomb that is devoted to Meriteti does not contain anything particularly interesting. Basic offering scenes are found in this area. However, the biggest chamber contains a red false door stela and reliefs that depict Meriteti in front of an offering table.
The entrance to the section of the tomb that is devoted to Seshseshet is on the southern side. Basic offering scene decorations can be seen there too, along with several depictions of Seshseshet and her young children. The end wall shows a scene involving Seshseshet, her son, and a lion palanquin. Numerous female attendants carry her. They are joined by a monkey, pet dogs, and other women and men.
Updated on May 5th 2020