Tomb of Neferherenptah
The mastaba of Neferherenptah is found among a group of rock-cut tombs on the southern side of the causeway of Unas at Saqqara. Neferherenptah’s title was ‘Overseer of Hairdressers of the Great House’, and he was the father of a judge and scribe called Ptahshepses. His mastaba, popularly called the ‘Birds’ Tomb’, dates to Dynasty V and probably slightly predates the Pyramid complex of Unas as it seems to have been interrupted by the building of the causeway.
The tomb consists of a single chamber, with its entrance facing north and although it was unfinished its decoration includes interesting examples of sketched paintings as well as a few fine completed reliefs.
Inside the entrance on the right-hand wall, there are five registers of reliefs (some unfinished) depicting the tending of cattle, preparation of food, the mating and calving of cattle, milking and servants bringing wine-jars as offerings to the ka of Neferherenptah.
The rear wall shows unfinished scenes which have been sketched in red ochre and finished in charcoal, but work on the relief carving was not begun. This wall shows more agricultural scenes, men picking sycamore figs, netting and caging birds (pigeons and other birds), fruit-picking, gardening and ploughing(?). The gardening scenes clearly show the watering and harvesting of onions. In one register huge baskets of fruit and vegetables have been gathered from the garden by servants and another man is seen with papyrus stalks over his arm. Viticulture is also represented, with men picking and treading grapes while others wield sticks.
A painted scene high on the wall gives the tomb its name – a beautiful representation of the bird-hunt shows a flock of birds rising into the air from a papyrus thicket.
Towards the left-hand side of the rear wall is an unfinished and uninscribed false door.
The mastaba of Neferherenptah was first discovered during excavations of the southern sector of the Unas causeway by Ahmed Moussa between 1964 and 1972.
The entrance to the tomb is via a modern staircase leading from the causeway and can usually be visited on request. Photography is no longer allowed inside any of the tombs.