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Giza Eastern Cemetery

The Eastern cemetery at Giza, contains large stone mastaba tombs belonging mostly to members of Khufu’s family, his sons and daughters and some of his most important officials. This group of tombs is located immediately to the east of Khufu’s queens’ pyramids and arranged roughly into seven rows. The largest mastaba in the Eastern Field belongs to Prince Ankh-haf (G7510) which is in the north-east corner, while at the other end of the row, near her pyramid, is the burial shaft of Queen Hetepheres (G7000x) where her wonderful funerary treasures were discovered by Reisner.

The tomb of Qar (G7101) The large multi-roomed mastaba of Qar can be found on the edge of the Eastern Cemetery, east of the pyramid of Hetepheres I (G7000) and close to her tomb shaft.The limestone superstructure of the mastaba has now almost completely disappeared and the remaining chambers are below ground. This official, also known as Meryrenefer, or Kar, was ‘Overseer of the Pyramid Towns of Khufu and Menkaure’, ‘Inspector of wab-priests of the Pyramid of Khafre’ and ‘Tenant of the Pyramid of Pepy I’, probably during the Dynasty VI reign of Pepy I or II. His wife Gefi, a ‘Prophetess of Hathor’, is known from tomb inscriptions. It is generally assumed that Qar is the father of Idu but there are suggestions that the truth could in fact be the oppsosite.

Engaged statues in the tomb of Qar

The entrance to the tomb is down a flight of steps which lead into a passage which in turn opens up into a hall with pillars supporting an architrave, richly worked in incised hieroglyphs. On the faces of the pillars the tomb-owner is shown in various stages of his life. The wall to the right of the entrance depicts the funerary rites, with Qar seated at a table to receive offerings. He is shown in a similar manner with his wife on the western wall, with offering lists and illustrations of the funeral procession – the purification tent and embalming-house are the focus of the ceremonies. On the southern wall of the open court, a niche contains statues of the deceased and his family, including his young son. Carved in high relief the row of six life-like standing statues is cut from the rock. Four of them have identical wigs and short narrow kilts, while the fifth is a naked young boy with a shaved head. The sixth and full-sized statue also had a shaved head or short wig and wears a longer flared and pleated kilt. The worn inscription above the statues gives another of Qar’s titles ‘Overseer of all the Works’. There is another statue of Qar seated in a niche on the eastern wall, where there are more offerings.

An offering chamber is entered from the western wall and here there are more offering scenes and texts. In the doorway there are more reliefs of the deceased. The false door of Qar is set into the western wall of the offering chamber with offerings and offering-bringers to either side. The tomb of Qar is thought to be an excellent example of later Old Kingdom art.

Tomb of Idu (G7102)

Idu (or Idut) is thought to have been the father (or son?) of Qar, and his smaller mastaba is adjacent to the previous one. He also held the title of ‘Tenant of the Pyramid of Pepy I’ as well as ‘Overseer of Scribes of the mrt (royal documents?)’, ‘Inspector of wab-priests of the Pyramids of Khufu and Khafre’ during the reign of Pepy I. The relationship mentioned in his tomb with Meryrenefer (Qar) and Gefi is uncertain.

Entrance to the vestibule with an architrave of Idu

A staircase descends to a large vestibule and to a passage into the single long rectangular offering chapel. On either side of the doorway are depictions of mourners at Idu’s house, the purification tent and the funeral procession. On the long western wall there are five large niches containing statues of Idu plus a smaller one on the left of his son (?) Qar, with their names and titles in beautifully carved hieroglyphs. At the end of the western wall there is a scene depicting men and cattle returning from the marshes. Idu is shown seated on a palanquin on the northern wall, watching scenes of activities including children’s games, dancers and musicians and the preparation of food and drink. In the centre of the east wall is a false door stela, painted to simulate granite. In the bottom half of the false door Idu’s statue eerily rises out of the ground to receive his offerings and in a panel above, the deceased and his wife are shown sitting opposite each other at an offering table. Near the floor an offering bench is placed in front of this wall, which depicts offerings to be given to the tomb owner and his wife.

Tomb of Queen Meresankh III (G7530-7540)

The large and beautiful double-mastaba of Queen Meresankh III is situated just to the south of the huge tomb of Prince Ankh-haf (G7510). She is named as a ‘Daughter of the King’, the daughter of Kawab (a son of Khufu) and her mother was Hetepheres II. She was married to Khafre (Dynasty IV) who was in fact her half-brother.

The entrance stairway leads down into the large main chamber of the tomb, which contains two square pillars and its walls are decorated with many beautiful and colourful reliefs of daily life in the Old Kingdom. Texts near the doorway give her name and titles with the date of her death and funeral. On the left hand side of the doorway, two sculptors whose names are given as Re’hay and Inkaf (identified by Reisner but now almost illegible), carve and paint statues of the Queen, while below other men are shown carving the funerary sarcophagus and false door. Goldworkers are also shown smelting gold and making a palanquin. On the southern wall, three niches contain six statues of men who are not identified but are thought to be scribes or priests. An incomplete false door stela on the western wall shows Meresankh seated at a table.

The walls of this chamber show many interesting scenes of various industries – fowling, mat-making, furniture-making and agricultural and hunting scenes. Meresankh is shown with her mother Hetepheres gathering lotus flowers and catching birds. On the pillars of the main hall, the deceased Meresankh is depicted facing into the tomb and dressed in an elegant white robe. Her two sons, Niussere (later pharaoh) and Duaenre stand at her feet. The northern wall is a rock-cut extension to the large chamber which contains a group of ten statues varying in size. They are unidentified but are thought to represent the deceased four times, her mother three times and three daughters.

The Tomb of Meresankh

The second chamber is smaller than the first and has two large openings leading into it. The left-hand wall is decorated with funerary scenes, offering lists and scribes bringing accounts of the estate. The small portion of wall between the doorways shows scenes of agriculture, and on the northern wall, food and wine is being prepared for the banquet, while musicians, singers and dancers entertain Meresankh who sits above holding a lotus flower and watching over the proceedings. These reliefs are unpainted. Two more niches on the western wall contain statues, probably of Meresankh and her mother with a false door between them.

In 1927, in the second chamber, Reisner found a large burial shaft whose chamber contained Meresankh’s black granite sarcophagus complete with the mummy of the queen (now in Cairo Museum). The sarcophagus has a palace-façade decoration and was presented to Meresankh by her mother Hetepheres.

Tomb of Nefermaat (G7060) This tomb belongs to a group of recently restored and newly opened tombs immediately to the south of Khufu’s queens’ pyramids. Nefermaat is named as ‘King’s Son’, ‘Hereditary Prince’, ‘Vizier of Khafre’ and ‘Overlord of Nekheb’ during the Dynasty IV reigns of Khufu and Khafre. His mother is named as Nefertkau (probably tomb G7050).

The mastaba of this important official and member of the royal family, today consists mainly of the tomb-chapel, which is decorated with the usual agricultural and offering scenes of the period. Nefermaat is depicted in one scene with his wife before scribes and men bringing animals and birds (including cranes) and in another he sits at the banquet with his dog under his chair, being entertained by musicians and clappers. Unfortunately his wife’s name is lost in the reliefs, but he is shown in another scene with his son, Senefrkaef, whose tomb (G7070) is adjacent. At the rear of the chamber is a false door of Nefermaat. Tomb of Senefrukaef (G7070)

Senerfrukaef was the son of Nefermaat, and he was ‘Treasurer of the King of Lower Egypt’ and ‘Herdsman of Apis’ during late Dynasty IV to early Dynasty V. His mastaba now consists of the tomb-chapel, decorated with scenes of the owner and his family. On the lintel of the doorway there is an offering text and genealogy of Senefrukaef’s family and he is depicted in reliefs in the chapel with his sons. The deceased also has a false door. An uninscribed limestone sarcophagus was found in the burial shaft, which is now in Cairo Museum.

Tomb of Seshemnefer IV Near the south-east corner of the pyramid of Khufu is the mastaba of Seshemnefer IV, which has been newly restored by the Egyptian Antiquities Organisation, with a new roof, and thorough cleaning of the reliefs.

Tomb of Seshemnefer IV

Seshemnefer IV was obviously a favoured official, ‘Overseer of the Two Seats of the House of Life’, and ‘Guardian of the King’s Secrets’, during Dynasty VI. One of the largest tombs at Giza, Seshemnefer’s porticoed tomb has an impressive façade with two columns. At either side of the portico, life-sized seated statues of the deceased official watch out over the Giza Plateau. The vestibule leads to an inner and outer hall and an offering chamber. Scenes within the tomb include reliefs of the deceased, daily life in the Old Kingdom and the usual funerary scenes. There is a sloping burial shaft into which the intrepid visitor is sometimes allowed.


The tombs of the Eastern cemetery are often open or may be opened on request. Photography is no longer allowed inside any of the tombs.

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