Tomb of Nefer

The tomb of Nefer is another of the group of mastabas to the south of the Unas causeway. Nefer’s titles were ‘Supervisor of Artisans’ and ‘Director of Choir Singers’ during early Dynasty V. The deceased shared his tomb with eight other family members, including his father, Kaha, who held the same title of ‘Director of Singers’ and his mother Mertietes who was a Priestess of Hathor.

Nefer’s tomb consists of a long offering hall with a serdab chamber at the southern end and depicts the classic colourful reliefs of the period. The left-hand (eastern) wall of the offering hall shows five registers of scenes with Kaha and his wife and daughter and a dog at either end. Many of the scenes are agricultural, or depict daily life. A herdsman tends his goats which are grazing on the leaves of a tree and men can be seen gathering papyrus, used to build a reed boat, while birds hover over the thicket. Below, there are scenes of netting fish and tending to cattle with depictions of food preparation. The fourth register shows treading of grapes and a wine-press where a baboon is working alongside the men. Two pairs of dwarfs are portrayed in their craft of jewellery-making and female clappers and dancers take part in the general entertainment. Below this are more agricultural scenes as well as pictures of boatmen jousting in the marshes and boats sailing south on the Nile with their sails billowing in the wind.

A niche opens at the south-eastern end of the tomb and the reliefs carry on similar themes. Goats are browsing and a wooden cargo boat is being constructed and launched. Carpentry techniques are shown in the felling of trees, sawing and dressing logs and furniture making. Below, men are tending the inevitable cattle and fowl.

On the end wall of the tomb, at the left-hand side, Nefer is shown in an offering scene in which he is seated with his wife squatting beside him while scribes and a dwarf record the offerings. On the right-hand side of the wall there were three apertures to the serdab and above these, painted but uncarved, Nefer is shown seated at a table before a list offerings. On the lower part of the wall the deceased is shown this time leaning on his staff and overseeing more offering-bringers and musicians. Nefer’s brothers Seniotef, Ihi and Werbau are also depicted.

The western wall has a series of six false doors. Beginning at the south are the false doors of (1) Nefer; (2) his son Khenu; (3) his father Khaha and (4) his mother Merietes; (5) Nefer’s brother Werbau with his wife Khentkawes; and (6) his brother Seniotef with his wife Khnemt. The second false door stela dedicated to Werbau has a palace-façade decoration and Werbau is depicted on the lintel in a symbolic opening of the door. Nefer is once more depicted on the entrance wall in paint only with his wife and children.

The tomb contains nine burial shafts and in one, a perfectly preserved mummy was found, but it is unclear whether this was the body of Nefer. A wooden box was also found in a burial shaft containing a cursive account of linen in the year of the sixth census. Other finds include an offering basin of Kaha and a wooden model boat.


The tomb of Nefer is usually open to visitors on request. Photography is no longer allowed inside any of the tombs.

~ by Su on February 20, 2009.