Tomb of Irukaptah
Irukaptah was also known as Khenu and held the titles of ‘Master Butcher of the Great House, King’s Wab-Priest’ and is dated to early Dynasty V. His tomb can be found as part of the group of rock-cut tombs on the southern side of the Unas causeway at Saqqara. It is popularly known as the ‘Butcher’s Tomb’.
Irukaptah’s tomb consists of a north-facing entrance which leads into an offering chapel with niches containing fourteen large statues and a false door stela. On the left of the entrance there are two registers at the top of the wall depicting men making a bed and bringing a chest and below this, two statue niches.
The statues continue round on the eastern wall, showing eight more statues with names and titles of Irukaptah’s family members on the jambs. These are very unusual because the technique of cutting statues from the rock of the tomb wall is not found elsewhere at Saqqara and is more characteristic of a few tombs at Giza from this period. The statues are painted – the colours still brightly preserved, with red-brown skin and yellow kilts with brightly coloured sashes. All of the men wear a short black wig, typical of the Old Kingdom Period. The statue on the end of the row is unfinished. Above the statue niches the deceased can be seen seated before tables laden with offerings in various containers. Here also are the important butchering scenes which give the tomb its name.
The next scenes on the eastern wall depict Irukaptah in a canoe with his family, fowling with a throw-stick. Other men in smaller boats take part in the sport of netting birds and fishing. Four registers of brightly decorated ships (the lower ones damaged) are shown next, their sails billowing in a good wind – they are probably transport ships with cabins behind the mast. There are also more preliminary sketches for statues which have been painted in red ochre but with no carving begun. Further along the eastern wall there is a deep niche with remains of a painting of Irukaptah seated above it. The inner part of the tomb contained five burial shafts which are now filled in – it is known that at least ten family members were buried here.
On the western wall a false door stela has been cut and nearer the entrance there are four more rock-cut statues in niches, three male and one female, but these were left unpainted. An unfinished seated statue was found in the tomb.
The tomb of Irukaptah is usually open to visitors on request. Photography is no longer allowed inside any of the tombs.