Tomb of Ankhmahor

The mastaba of Ankhmahor is situated on the northern side of Teti’s pyramid at Saqqara in the block of tombs belonging to the officials of the king’s Dynasty VI reign. Ankhmahor is named as ‘Vizier, First under the King, Overseer of the Great House’ and was among the most important of Teti’s officials. The tomb was first excavated by Victor Loret in 1899, but has been recently published by N Kanawati and A Hassan as a record of chapels and burial chambers of Ankhmahor and his son, Ishfi, based on new photographs and facsimile drawings.

The entrance to the tomb, which contains a modest six chambers, is on the eastern side. It is popularly known as the ‘Physician’s Tomb’ because although Ankhmahor was not himself a physician his monument contains some interesting scenes of medical practices.

The first chamber has the usual agricultural scenes and leads through a doorway on the left into a series of rooms and a serdab. The left-hand wall of the second room depicts craftsmen at work. There are two registers of jewellery-making and scenes of metal-working and sculpting. On the western wall there are scenes of netting fowl.

To the north of the first chamber there is a large pillared hall containing five remaining square pillars. The reliefs here are generally not well preserved but some depictions of the mourners in the funeral procession on the southern wall are beautifully portrayed. Reliefs on the eastern wall of the pillared hall show women dancing. The most famous pictures from Ankhmahor’s tomb are in the doorway to the pillared hall. These are the medical scenes and show representations of surgical operations, including the circumcision of a priest which is comparable to a similar relief in the Karnak Temple of Mut, from a much later date. Another relief shows a foot operation being performed – sited by many reflexologists as proof of ancient alternative therapies practised on the hands and feet.


The tomb of Ankhmahor is not currently open to visitors.


~ by Su on February 21, 2009.

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