In Photos: Painted Old Kingdom mastaba uncovered in Dahshour Necropolis

Nevine El-Aref , Thursday 21 Mar 2024

An Old Kingdom mastaba tomb adorned with painted decorations was uncovered during excavations by a team from the German Archaeological Institute in Cairo.



“The discovery provides valuable insight into the socio-political structure of ancient Egyptian society,” said Hisham El-Leithy, charge d’affairs of the secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) and head of the Registration and Documentation Sector at the SCA.

Dahshour, located south of Giza's Saqqara, houses prominent pyramid cemeteries from the Old Kingdom. 

Among the notable landmarks in Dahshour are the Red Pyramid and the Bent Pyramid, attributed to King Seneferu, father of King Khufu, circa 2650 BCE.

Studies show the mastaba could be dated to the end of the Fifth or early Sixth Dynasty, said Stephan Seidlmayer, leader of the excavation team.

The mastaba is part of an expansive cemetery belonging to the inhabitants of the Red Pyramid town, he added.

Inscriptions on a large limestone false-door reveal the mastaba tomb belonged to a man named Seneb-nebef, who held various administrative positions in the palace (khentiu-she), and his wife Idut, a priestess of Hathor and lady of the sycamore. 

What sets this find apart is its exquisite painted decoration, a rarity in Dahshour Necropolis, Seidlmayer noted.

The delicate artwork depicts scenes of everyday life, including donkeys threshing grain, ships navigating the Nile, and bustling marketplaces, alongside depictions of attendants making offerings.

This mission from the German Archaeological Institute has been involved in excavations in Dahshour since 1976, focusing mainly on the pyramids of Seneferu and the Middle Kingdom.

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