National Geographic : 1941 Oct
Supplies of Food for a Resident of the City of the Dead-an Old Kingdom Mastabeh Field Near Memphis WHEN, early in the IIIrd Dynasty, the kings (and, sub sequently, the queens) of Egypt adopted the pyramidal form for their tomb monuments, the earlier "mastabeh" type was taken over by less important members of the royal fam ily, nobles of the court, and well-to-do officials of the king dom, remaining popular until the end of the Middle Kingdom. The rectangular, flat-topped mass of masonry with steeply sloping sides is a direct development from the crude mound of sand or mud heaped over the prehistoric grave. The one or more pits to the subterranean burial chambers pass verti cally down through the body of the mastabeh, which is usually solid except for a small chapel, a smaller statue cham ber, and one or two other tiny rooms built into its stone or brick core. Like the homes of the living, these abodes of the dead were laid out in regular streets and form extensive "towns" grouped about the pyramids of the kings. In the plate opposite there spreads out before us part of such a mastabeh town. Several types of mastabeh appear in the group, but the one in the center, with the two "false doors" in its east facade and the chapel portico inits northern end naturally draws our attention. To this tomb comes a long and motley procession ofserv ants of its deceased owner, bringing the "raw materials" for his periodical funerary banquet: beef, butchered, and on the hoof, game, fowls of everydescription, vegetables, fruits, bread, beer, wine, and flowers for garnishing the tables. A scribe, with his pen-case and water jarslung over one shoulder, herds the bearersalong, and attheentrance to the mastabeh chapel the mortuary priest receives and dis poses of the offerings. Along the street in front ofthe mastabeh afunerary statue of the dead noble isbeing dragged upon asledge over a track liberally "slosheddown" with water. At the right of the sceneacemetery guard sleeps peace fully beneath his awning, while his small sonbrings up his daily supply of water on donkeyback. In the distance stand thethree Vth Dynasty pyramids at Abusir (Abu Sir) and, farther tothesouth, the pyramid of Snefru and that of Huni ofthe IIIrd Dynasty atDahshur.