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Saqqara - The Places

How do you build a Mastaba?

Mastabas or Houses of Stability and Eternity are generally erected in 2 stages:

  • The tomb chambers to house the deceased are dug out below and decorated
  • Mudbricks or stone Blocks for the more important burials are then added from the centre out to form a flat topped rectangular “bench” like structure which are finished with sloping sides

Shepseskaf’s Mastaba


A Stepped Mastaba was the central construction of the Funerary Complex with for Pharaoh Shepseskaf of the 4th Dynasty. It was 18m high with a Base of 99.6m by 74.4m and was constructed out of Tura Limestone, Red Sandstone and Pink Granite.

The Subterranean Area underneath the Mastaba is where the resting place of Pharaoh Shepseskaf would have been found. It is entered on the Northern side from a sloping corridor that ran for nearly 21m before levelling out into a small chamber, then onwards to the original door of 3 Portcullis Stones. The stones are not in place as the door but instead remain in their open position on the ceiling. After the doorway, the corridor continues for nearly 20m until it reaches Pharaoh’s Ante Chamber. The Ante Chamber lead on to Pharaoh’s Burial Chamber which has a pointed granite roof and is nearly 8m long, nearly 4m wide, nearly 5m high. The Sarcophagus, of which only slivers remain, appears to have been made of Basalt. The last corridor which heads southward from the Burial Chamber has 4 niches on its east side and 1 niche on its west side.

 The Complex, as with nearly all Funerary Complexes, is surrounded by two Enclosure Walls. These have 10m between them, which is usually filled with rubble or mud brick, making it an imposing sight. The Complex also had a Funerary Temple on its East, of which little remains; a Causeway which is also almost lost ends at the Temple. Regrettably, the Valley Temple is lost to time.

Mastaba Tomb of Vizier Ptahhotep


The Mastaba is located in the North Saqqara Mastaba Tomb area and is known as Tomb D62

Entered via the South east and decorated with 2 Pillars it has 2 rooms on each side surrounding a Court of 10 Pillars. Moving on a northern access are several other rooms which contains Ptahhotep’s False Door for his Ka with an Offering Table in front of it. Regrettably, much of the decoration of the Tomb is damaged

However, Ptahhotep’s role as Vizier was logged in the Papyrus Scroll, “Maxims of Ptahhotep”. For further details about this, click here.


Mastaba Tomb of Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum


The Mastaba Tomb for the Servants Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum who were Royal Servants with the title of Overseer of the Manicurists in the Palace of Pharaoh Nyuserre Ini of the 5th Dynasty.

The 2 Servants enjoyed a close relationship with Pharaoh and appear to have had a very close relationship altogether it is unknown if they were related as brothers. Each man is portrayed within the Tomb with their families:

  • Niankhkhnum’s wife was named Khentikawes. They had 3 sons Hem-re, Qed-unas and Khnumhezewef, and 3 daughters, Hemet-re, Khewiten-re and Nebet
  • Khnumhotep’s wife was named Khenut. They had 5 sons named Ptahshepses, Ptahneferkhu, Kaizebi, Khnumheswef and Niankhkhnum the younger and 1 daughter named Rewedzawes


If the Royal Servants are brothers, then it is suggested that their father was Khabaw-khufu and their mother was Rewedzawes. If this is the case, then they had 3 brothers named Titi, Nefernisut, and Kahersetef, and 3 sisters named Neferhotep-hewetherew, Mehewet and Ptah-heseten.


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