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In the Shadow of Djoser’s Pyramid

Research of Polish Archaeologists in Saqqara


Karol Jan Myśliwiec

The book presents the discoveries made by the Polish archaeological mission in Saqqara, the central part of the largest ancient Egyptian royal necropolis. The area adjacent to the Pyramid of King Djoser on the monument’s west side, so far neglected by archaeologists, turned out to be an important burial place of the Egyptian nobility from two periods of Pharaonic history: the Old Kingdom (the late third millennium BC) and the Ptolemaic Period (the late first millennium BC). The earlier, lower cemetery yielded rock-hewn tombs with splendid wall decoration in relief and painting. The book also describes methods of conservation applied to the discovered artefacts and episodes from the mission’s life.

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Chapter 12. The rest is silence

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Chapter 12. The rest is silence

Abstract: Questions to the georadar: where to go next? Dilemma: Dry Moat in the West or Mudbrick Platform in the East? Unusual tomb architecture in a rock wall. Where is the tomb owner and his namesake son? More puzzles than answers.

Keywords: Ikhi/Meri, geophysical survey, rock tomb, nobleman, double burial, cult chapel, false doors.

Archaeological research is frequently reminiscent of a trial based on circumstantial evidence. The gaps in the source records have to be supplemented based on analogies, if they exist at all, as well as constantly extended historical knowledge, and they then have to be glued together using one’s imagination. But woe to the archaeologist who would harness the analogies to the chariot of his or her wishful thinking. There are no two identical cases in history, even though the directions of development frequently follow the same pattern. The fates of individuals and entire social groups were decided by so many varied factors that their results always differ slightly. And they are most definitely different from what an archaeologist might dream up. Disappointment is experienced as a rule by those who think they know better than history and foresee the results of excavations in advance. Fate tends to be wilful in such cases, or even spiteful. It punishes the researcher for his arrogance, presenting him with a barren layer, even though in Egypt this happens exceptionally seldom. Much more frequently, reality brings us something that is the exact opposite of what the products of our schematic thinking had led us to expect.

Even though in Saqqara we try to show the maximum humility in the face of the history of this exceptional place, reality continues to exceed our imagination and attempts at reconstruction. Things were no different at the two opposite sides of our excavations, the eastern and western ones. When we unearthed the part of the necropolis located east of the vizier’s tomb, we encountered an unexpected obstacle. The ruins of the Old Kingdom mastaba, situated at a distance of only a few metres from the recessed wall of Djoser’s pyramid (Fig. 61), were not only covered with a layer of pure Aeolic sand but also sealed from above by an extensive platform of mud brick.1 ←393 | 394→The sandy surface was levelled for this purpose and a thin floor of mud was poured onto it, while only one layer of large-sized bricks was placed on top (Fig. 183). One could tell right away that these were bricks from the pharaonic period. Since the preserved eastern part of the platform covered the graves, the exploration of which we had already initiated at their western edge, it would have to be partially dismantled in order to continue with the excavations. We faced the type of dilemma that vexes many an archaeologist: can artefacts located in the upper layers be removed to get to the structures situated beneath? One has to make a choice. We came to the conclusion that it would be a Solomon-like judgement to dismantle only the part of the platform that covers the graves already visible, while leaving behind its eastern fragment in situ, adjacent to the recessed wall. Of course, before conducting this operation, the structure had to be precisely described, photographed and drawn, as there would never again be any access to it.

But our decision is not enough to go ahead with such an action. In order to conduct an ‘abortion’ of this type, one has to have the permission of the ←394 | 395→Supreme Council of the Antiquities. The Egyptians are very unwilling to hand out such permission, but we were lucky that the platform did not bear any decorations and had not been preserved intact. Its ragged western edge indicated that originally it had run much further westward, perhaps as far as Merefnebef’s mastaba, which protruded above the level of this brick ‘cap.’ After a year of waiting, we received the permit from the Egyptian authorities for the disassembly.

We took advantage of these circumstances to take a closer look at the content of the clay in the bricks, and especially at the vessel sherds used in order to slim the mass for the better coherence of the building material. If any of the pottery sherds, particularly the larger ones, had born any characteristic elements, making it possible to determine the production date of the broken vessels, we would have acquired a valuable terminus post quem, i.e. the date after which the brick was made and the entire platform constructed. This would be information all the more valuable as the platform itself does not have any diagnostic features. Its surface does not bear any traces of having been used, while in the sand covering it only pottery sherds from the New Kingdom were found, which do not have to be contemporaneous to the erection of the brick structure.

An archaeologist does not like to discover artefacts about which he or she can say little else than that they exist. However, they are simultaneously the most intriguing, as they force one to think like a detective and search for details that would help to reveal the secrets behind these objects. The lack of any signs of usage suggested that the platform had not been a structure of a ritual function. If it had been, the clay surface would have contained some remnants of the offerings placed there, e.g. small animal bones, the remains of altars on which piles of plants or even fragments of items used in cult activities would have been burnt, i.e. all those things we observed on the example of Vizier Merefnebef’s funerary chapel.2 This leads us to the conclusion that the platform must rather have performed a protective function and that its creators aimed to make some especially important structures inaccessible, probably sepulchral ones located underneath. But who and when had built it?

The analysis of the pottery sherds used to slim the clay from which the bricks were made initially suggested a relatively early date, since the youngest sherds originated from the Middle Kingdom. However, after we had studied a larger number of bricks, it turned out that they also contained pottery material from the New Kingdom, including fragments of particularly ←395 | 396→diagnostic vessels, the surface of which was adorned with motifs painted using blue paint.3 This type of pottery appeared in Egypt in the middle of the Eighteenth Dynasty and survived until the Ramesside period. Since larger fragments of similar vessels were also present in the mud mortar between the bricks and just above the platform, we could assume with a high level of probability that the platform was built during the New Kingdom, supposedly in the beginnings of the reign of the rulers named Ramesses, i.e. the Nineteenth Dynasty.

Such a dating can be supported by a graffito-type sketch carved onto the recessed wall of the pyramid, just next to the platform, slightly above the latter’s level.4 In its schematic form, the grafitto depicts a sphinx and pyramids; doubtless those that are located in Giza and are sometimes visible even from Saqqara. The motif and style of this representation find striking analogies with similar sketches dated to the New Kingdom. The artist who drew the graffito in Saqqara must have been one of the constructors of the platform. Such a dating is also supported by the fact that in a few places the brick platform ‘squeezes’ into the numerous, sometimes extensive cavities that existed already at that time in the lower part of the pyramid’s recessed wall.5 It can be assumed that after almost 1500 years since Djoser’s tomb had been constructed, the snow-white face of the wall must have been strongly damaged. In turn, the platform survived no longer than to the beginnings of the Ptolemaic period, since at that time the above-described ephemeral structure was constructed at its western edge from the re-used blocks of the recessed wall, while the dead began to be buried within the ruins of the mastabas located below.6

Nonetheless, it is difficult to determine the function of this mysterious brick construction without knowing its size. Beyond its eastern border, we can establish with precision its northern edge, where the platform is enclosed by a low wall also erected from mud brick, running from east to west almost precisely along the extension of the pyramid’s axis, abutting its recessed wall ←396 | 397→(Figs. 183–185).7 Thus, it seems that the constructors of the platform very much wanted to emphasise its organic connection with the already ancient structure built by Imhotep, an object of widespread cult.

Even though as a result of later damage, it is difficult to establish the range of the platform in the western direction, it should be excluded that it at any point covered Merefnebef’s mastaba. Therefore, its width in an east-west line should be estimated as amounting to about ten metres. It is most difficult to establish its expanse in the north-south line, while it is this dimension that interests us the most as the platform is adjacent in this area to the pyramid’s temenos. This terrain had not yet been the object of our systematic excavations, even though – in order to satisfy our curiosity – we had conducted a few trial pits here at a distance of about five metres from each other (Il. 27).8 It turned out that in each of them a fragment of the platform appears at a depth of about one metre beneath the surface of the ground. Therefore, the entire structure must have been at least fifty metres in length. When in ←397 | 398→2012, we brought a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to Saqqara in order to ‘inspect’ the interior of the earth within the territory of our concession using a non-invasive method (Fig. 188), we also checked the area adjacent to the recessed wall. The initial results of the studies make it possible to assume that the brick platform accompanies the pyramid temenos up until the latter’s southern9 edge. This would thus be a construction strictly linked to the pyramid, ‘glued’ to its recessed wall along the entire southern half of this gigantic fencing. If its function was to shield the tomb of an important person buried in this place, why would it have been so enormous?

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While the initial results of the GPR surveys require detailed verification, certain suppositions can already be made. Even if it turned out that the meridional stretch of the platform amounts to little more than fifty metres, its proportions and dimensions bring to mind the tombs of some of the first rulers of the Second Dynasty, unearthed earlier slightly to the south of Djoser’s funerary complex.10 Archaeologists expect to find further tombs in this region. Did the platform cover one of these, so important or – despite the passage of millennia – so well-preserved that it had to be protected from intruders?

In 2005, it seemed for a moment that we had discovered such a tomb underneath the platform. When we decided to clear the surface of the Old Kingdom structures, we had discovered during the earlier excavation campaigns right next to the foundations of the recessed wall surrounding Djoser’s pyramid (Fig. 61), the outlines of a new monument appeared on the rock surface. The first were the remains of a broad mud-brick wall, running underneath the stone foundation from Djoser’s times (Fig. 61). This is yet another piece of evidence that monumental tombs had existed here before the first pyramid was ever built. This type of large dark brown mud brick was exactly the same as in the mastabas of the noblemen from the archaic period, discovered at one point in the northern part of the Saqqara plateau. This is irrefutable proof that the earlier necropolis had fallen victim to Imhotep’s architectural ideas.

However, a few metres further westward, the contours of an even more original construction were outlined on the surface of the rock (Figs. 186–187). The remains of two long parallel stone walls running from the north to the south turned out to be the upper part of rock walls hewn out deeper into the rock.11 This must have been a funerary structure used for some time, since a few layers of a sturdy flooring with the structure of cement with pebbles imbedded into its hard texture were located adjacent to these walls on their external side. We immediately slackened our work pace and began observing the pile of rubble filling the corridor between the rock walls. We soon discovered the structure must be relatively old, since it was re-used again during the Sixth Dynasty, through the insertion of two burial shafts into the corridor, perhaps supplementing the mastaba of a dignitary called Pehenptah (‘beautiful name’ – Pehi), erected on the western side of the corridor.12 It sometimes happened, especially in the later phases of the development of this necropolis, that room was lacking for new burials within the area of the mastabas, which forced the family of the deceased to hew out new shafts beyond the walls of the original tomb. For example, the tomb of one of the priestesses of the Goddess Hathor was such an extension, located adjacent to the above-described mastaba belonging to Ny-Pepi.13

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Nonetheless, the most intriguing aspect in the corridor explored with such exceptional meticulousness was the outline of its original flooring, best visible in the profile of its eastern wall. The wall here had the form of a ramp sloping steeply southwards (Il. 28; Figs. 184186). Even this, similarly as the width of the corridor (1.86 m) and its orientation along the north-south line, brought to mind associations with two Second-Dynasty royal tombs, located south of the Djoser sepulchral complex. The only significant difference lay in the fact that the rake angle of the ramp in this structure was much steeper than in the case of archaic tombs. From that moment onwards, we began to expect that a few metres further a vertical rock wall would appear with an entrance that would be in the shape of a rectangle rimmed with a profiled frame. This is precisely what happened.14

Almost certain that we had discovered a new tomb, probably a royal one, from the period preceding the construction of the first pyramid, we began to sift every clump of earth so as not to miss, for example, stamps with the name of a king or other inscribed artefacts. We studied all the ceramic vessels with particular meticulousness, which in this spot formed an exceptionally abundant deposit. We did not worry much that almost all of them originated from the final phase of the Old Kingdom, and not, as we would have wanted, from the reign of the Second or Third Dynasty. Such tombs happened to be reused; thus, late pottery could be evidence of secondary burials or even originate from those burial shafts which were inserted into the corridor just a few metres from the mysterious entrance at the end of the ramp. The fact that a type of trapdoor was constructed just in front of the ←403 | 404→entrance, meant for a large and heavy stone slab that usually blocked access to the interior of royal tombs, only contributed to working up even more of a scholarly appetite.

However, our concern increased with every second after we passed through the entrance hewn into the rock. Since the ceiling of the chamber lowered systematically at the same angle that had been determined in the corridor by the slope of the floor, we had expected the latter to decline in parallel, continuing the corridor inside the rock mass, up until the next passage which would lead us to a horizontal gallery with many small chambers to the sides, analogically to the Second-Dynasty royal tombs. But nothing like this happened. The floor did not want to decline. It adopted a horizontal position that gave us heart palpitations. Up to a distance of one metre beyond the entrance, we continued to allow for the possibility that in order to ensure the safety of the burial the practical Egyptians had forfeited hewing a normal passage and had left a cleft further inside, only narrow enough for a sarcophagus or its elements to be deposited in the burial chamber. However, every step brought us closer to the inevitable truth that the floor met the ceiling at a distance of less than three metres from the entrance (Il. 28; Fig. 187).15

What could have occurred that after putting such an enormous amount of stone-working effort into hewing out a corridor with a steep, diagonal bottom, work had been ceased inside the ‘tomb,’ just past the entrance, which itself bears all the features of a completed job? We would have understood this decision if the workers had suddenly encountered a layer of rock in this spot so brittle that it was necessary to give up the execution of the ambitious plans. However, at the spot where the ceiling connects with the floor, the Saqqara limestone is characterised by a hard, homogeneous structure, which would not have discouraged the builders from continuing their work. Everything indicates that the halting of the work had a specific purpose, perhaps planned from the very beginning.

The location of the entrance to the ‘tomb’ is especially diagnostic in this case. It was hewn in precisely the same spot where, over 1000 years later, the wall bordering the brick platform from the north ran a few metres higher up (Figs. 185186).16 Both elements lie along the same line, which is almost ←404 | 405→an exact extension of the axis of the pyramid in the western direction. The conclusion is simple: already during the New Kingdom some sort of essential correlation was felt to exist between the old rock pseudo-tomb and the brick construction covering the Old Kingdom tombs. Nonetheless, it is equally certain that this extensive platform was not built to protect this very sepulchral structure, abandoned at an initial phase of work. If this was the case, the object secured from the top with the platform should be searched for further southward, in an area where we had not yet conducted excavations.

But why was an unfinished pseudo-tomb, hewn into rock, incorporated into a protected architectural complex? It must have performed some significant function; however, the only one the context suggests is the role of a trap being a kind of false structure, misleading potential looters. This would have been possible with the assumption that the thieves – who were generally well-prepared for their profession – thought using per analogiam schemes. Deceived by the entrance, similar to the ones in Second-Dynasty royal tombs, they would have fallen into a trap construed as a ‘blind chapel,’ leading nowhere, while the entrance to the authentic tomb would have been located somewhere else, further southwards. It cannot be excluded that the trap functioned so well that in later times it was transformed into a type of primitive cult chapel, in which, e.g., offering vessels were deposited, of course meant for the individual buried ‘beyond the wall.’ As such, it could have made its way under the ceiling of the platform built 1000 years later.

This theory does however have its weak points. While various systems securing the tombs from potential thieves, well prepared to disrupt the eternal rest of the carnal ‘Osirises,’ have been unearthed in the tombs of important Egyptians, there is no evidence that anyone was capable of coming up with an effective system. The thieves frequently won, be it thanks to their intelligence or by using force and showing determination. Even the heaviest of stone slabs blocking the passages in the pharaoh’s pyramids did not pass the test. Only once were the guards of a necropolis, this time the one in Western Thebes, able to chase them away during work they had already initiated, as a result of which the ephemeral, quite insignificant young man named Tutankhamen is today one of the most famous pharaohs of all times. It is hard to imagine that the creators of a monumental tomb right next to the royal pyramid in Saqqara would have been naïve enough to hope that the looters would not find the real entrance, wherever it might be. If, however, we were to assume that the tomb covered later with a ‘cap’ was hewn already in archaic times, it would be possible to suppose that the Egyptians of those days had chosen a solution that would surely not have been repeated in the New Kingdom, following their abundant experience with the plundering of royal tombs. Unless this was an example of the proverbial ‘make-believe actions’ with which we are well acquainted from the everyday practices of ←405 | 406→other totalitarian states, closer to us chronologically. The construction of a mock tomb would have been listed by one of the functionaries responsible for security matters, showing his superiors that ‘something had been done.’ However, the price to pay for such planned deception during the early pharaonic period would surely have been much higher than in our times.

If we were however to assume that the thieves had in this case also come out victorious, we would have to consider why a 1000 years later such significance was attached to the protection of looted chambers. It cannot be excluded that such an important person had been originally deposited there that even his or her place of burial, even void of funerary equipment, deserved the highest respect and to be secured with a brick platform. It seems more probable that this was all about symbolic protection and not about concealing treasures located underneath, since for a thief there would be no easier barrier to overcome than a single layer of mud brick and the thin coating of sand underneath.

Another possibility also seems close to the truth, i.e. that the platform was built above the sepulchral structures not due to their original ‘user,’ but out of respect for a secondary burial arranged here in much later times, perhaps even during the New Kingdom. This kind of reusage frequently occurred in ancient Egypt, even in royal circles. Perhaps even Alexander the Great’s mummy spent some time here, maybe just a few months, in the tomb of an earlier celebrity at the Memphite necropolis, as already discussed in chapter 10. In the case of the mysterious structure on the western side of the ‘step pyramid,’ it would have been someone from a much earlier period, if the platform actually was created, as suggested by the structure of the bricks, during the Ramesside Period.

If our reasoning is correct, a solution presents itself that is highly probable. The construction of the brick casing might be linked to the already mentioned individual called Khaemweset, one of the first sons of Ramesses II.17 Performing the function in Memphis of the main priest of the god Ptah, he was a great admirer of Old Kingdom monuments and was famous for his conservation activities involving the royal pyramids in the Memphite necropolis, especially in Saqqara. This was also where he was buried, probably near the Serapeum. The sensitive ‘conservator’ was accompanied in Memphis by his mother, Ramesses II’s first wife, who later had to give up her seat to the beautiful Nefertari, buried in the Theban Valley of the Queens. The tomb of Iset-nofret, Khaemweset’s mother, has not been found to this day. Did the aesthete of royal blood bury his mother right next to Djoser’s ←406 | 407→pyramid, in the ancient, though probably already emptied tomb of one of the rulers of the Second Dynasty?

We might perhaps find this out in the course of further excavations, though it is equally probable that some other important person, especially respected during the Ramesside Period, found his or her eternal resting place here. An archaeologist would be the most satisfied if it turned out that this was a person thus far completely unknown. However, we should not expect too much, especially not an intact tomb with a full set of funerary equipment. It seems simply impossible in this place. The results of the GPR surveys conducted in 2012 in the entire area of our concession lead us to be especially careful in formulating hypotheses. While they did confirm that the brick platform continues on southward as far at the south-west corner of the recessed wall encircling the holy pyramid complex, they also sent out an ominous signal suggesting that an extensive hollow lies more or less in the middle of its length. Let us hope it does not turn out to be evidence of an even later secondary usage, e.g. another gigantic shaft left behind in Saqqara by the Persian Period.

When we completed our excavations in 2012 in the area between the holy complex of Djoser’s pyramid and the eastern edge of the ‘Dry Moat,’ we faced the choice of a new direction for our excavations. We wanted the area selected for further research to offer promise of finding the solution to an important scholarly problem or at least for its posing, and not just to be the source of new tombs. We decided once again to look for assistance in the results of geophysical prospection. To this aim, we brought a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) from Poland, run by a group of geophysicists from the University of Warsaw and the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw under the direction of Dr Fabian Welc and Dr Jerzy Trzciński.18 We were especially interested in two areas of the necropolis lying on the western side of the ‘step pyramid,’ running along the eastern and western edge of the cemetery (Il. 27). We really wanted to find out what type of structures were concealed by the brick platform located adjacent from the west to the recessed wall, how deep they were and how far they extended southward.

The second aim was the ‘Dry Moat’ in its western arm, of which we had already previously surveyed the middle part (Il. 3; Figs. 2, 69, 159 and 189191), but only to a depth of about five metres.19 What lies at a greater depth? ←407 | 408→Are there some sepulchral structures earlier than the ones we unearthed in the highest layer? What is the course of the ‘Dry Moat’ to the north and south of the central fragment we had already excavated? Do the lower ‘floors’ of this gigantic hollow conceal any especially important burials or sanctuaries? Were the layers of sand filling the bottom part of the ‘Dry Moat’ used for cult purposes, sepulchral ones or some other aims before the Ptolemaic period? These were the questions we first posed to the geophysicists. The results of their intense work are in the course of being interpreted in detail. Nonetheless, even their initial observation, still requiring checking through excavations, lead to the conclusion that the ‘Dry Moat’ can be treated as a time capsule, demanding multidisciplinary studies that might cast new light on the history of Saqqara, the Memphite necropolis, and northern Egypt over the course of a few thousand years.

While we were grappling with our ideas about which of the two directions of research should be considered the more important, worthy of concentrating our efforts on it during subsequent campaigns, something suddenly happened which took the decision out of our hands. Any reader searching for signs of the intervention of supernatural forces can be given the satisfaction of knowing that the sensational discovery made in the final week of an excavation campaign, i.e. towards the end of October 2012, occurred in precisely the same place where ten years earlier a living guardian of the ←408 | 409→Netherworld had almost taken my life. At the time, I had stopped in my tracks, lost in thought, at the top of a sandy hill on the western side of the ‘Dry Moat,’ while I considered the structure of the elevation. Was it a natural geological formation or an ancient structure later covered by sand? Suddenly, a terrifying mass scream issued from the throats of the Egyptian workers digging at a distance of just a few metres from me. With raised pickaxes and hoes, they raced in my direction. In the last second that separated us from our macabre encounter, I thought that they must have been paid off by some terrorists, who for the first time in history had chosen an archaeologist as their target. But the attackers quickly turned out to be my defenders. From afar, they had noticed the cobra, whose colour did not differ one bit from that of the sand in that spot. At a distance of just several dozen ←409 | 410→centimetres before me, it was already raising its trunk to strike. However, the panting boys got to him in the last second and immediately beat it to death.

This was the only time in my fifty-year-long archaeological career that I had been attacked by a snake. Earlier encounters had led me to see this species as creatures exceptionally shy and skittish, or – at any rate – friendly. The ancient Egyptians, acute observers of nature, attributed snakes with many contrasting qualities, identifying the animal with various gods and goddesses.

I could not see the slithering cobra in time as it had approached me from the side from which the sun shone, which in Egypt completely blinds a person looking in that direction. In turn, the workers, turned the opposite way, could see its every twitch. I was suddenly reminded of my master’s, Professor Kazimierz ł’ only phobia, or at least his greatest one. He spoke of it every occasion he could. “Every snake is dangerous,” he would repeat. I took this unusual event to be a good sign, a signal to accelerate excavations in this spot. It turned out to be exceptional in all regards.

Already the layer of the Upper Necropolis, located here at only a few centimetres underneath the surface of the sand, was very rich and diverse. In its upper part, we discovered many burials in variously-shaped coffins, reflecting the stratification of Memphite society during the Ptolemaic period (Figs. 3738).20 The most beautiful one were sculpted in a single piece of wood, while its elegant proportions and subtle modelling of the facial features were so similar to the stone sarcophagi of the dignitaries from the first half of this epoch that it could be dated to the third century BC without a moment’s hesitation.21 Other, slightly poorer ones, were made out of boards, which – however – were distinguished by the individualised expression of the masks sculpted onto the surface of the lid.22 It sometimes happened that the polychromy of some coffins, especially their bottoms, had been impressed so precisely into the underlying layer of sand that the painted hieroglyphic inscription could just as easily be read from the original or from its negative in the sand.23 In this part of the necropolis, there were fewer mummies shrouded in cartonnages with rich polychromy, but in its upper layer ←410 | 411→terracotta containers appeared of an almost anthropoid shape, with schematically marked facial details (Fig. 190).24 A pair of such sarcophagi, discovered just underneath the surface of the sand, might have originated from the beginning of the Roman period. Simpler burials frequently lay between the coffins, mummified and bandaged bodies without any container or casing, sometimes groups of three or even four deceased lying next to each other (Fig. 189).

The social differentiation is also indicated by the quality of the mummification in the case of particular individuals. In the context of a body embalmed with care, wrapped in many layers of bandages and a few shrouds, frequently there were also mummies prepared hurriedly, without maintaining the appropriate proportions in the dosage of the reagents, sometimes transformed into black powder, and – in other cases – almost completely lacking conservation substances. It can be assumed that these last burials represent the lowest social group, probably servants to the middle class.

While the mummies and coffins lie in the sand at various depths, it is difficult to distinguish layers, the sequence of which would correspond to chronological phases. It is clearly observable that the bodies were buried as deep as possible in light of the context of already existing burials. All attempts at establishing the diachronic development of the necropolis on the basis of the stratigraphy are methodologically risky and not aided even by the artefacts accompanying the richer burials or found in their vicinity. These are usually faience amulets depicting various Egyptian deities,25 sometimes very elaborately modelled, fragments of necklaces from various materials, and even a deposit of bronze figurines portraying, among others, Osiris – the god of the dead – and the Apis bull.26 It seems that these last were not originally linked to the described necropolis, but rather made their way here from the nearby Serapeum, which additionally emphasises the cult connections between the catacombs of the holy bulls and the cemetery for the middle class.

In later times, looters clearly seem to have also hacked their way through the cemetery from the Ptolemaic period, wanting to get to the much richer tombs, located further down. We have every reason to believe that at a certain point they were scared away or simply became bored by the thickness of the layer containing these burials. While the mummies in the upper part of this layer are almost always torn apart as a result of the search for valuable ←411 | 412→amulets, and the burials have usually been tampered with, in the lower parts there are no traces whatsoever of thieving penetration. Discouraged intruders found a different route to the Old Kingdom tombs hewn into the rock. They would not have been prominent specialists in their line of work if they had not realised that it was easier for them to get to the interior of these tombs through the shaft located a few metres further west. Its top might even have protruded from underneath the layer of sand, thin in this spot. This shaft was used to get to the cult chapel interior containing a few shallow shafts hewn in the rock floor, and thus constituting a collective grave, most certainly not containing any items more valuable than pottery vessels or a headrest on which a mummy’s head lay. They must surely have been frustrated by the effects of their efforts; thus, they left behind a pile of earth mixed with vessel sherds, while they placed a souvenir of their stay in the form of an oil lamp at the top of this trash dump. This last item is a valuable historical source for an archaeologist, since it enables dating the ‘visit’ of uninvited guests to the Arabic Middle Ages (the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries AD).27

But this was not the end of the thieving expedition. They decided to check if a more important chamber was not hidden behind the rock wall enclosing the chapel from the south. They hewed out a large opening in this partition and used it to enter the neighbouring chapel, this time belonging to an individual from the highest levels of social hierarchy. Of course, they were not interested in the chapel interior, since they had not come there in order to pray. Their object of interest was primarily the deep burial shaft hewn into the rock floor next to the west chapel wall (Il. 2930). If they had known how to read, they would immediately have known whose tombs they were dealing with. A large rectangular plate made from the best quality of limestone is still imbedded in the western wall (Il. 29, Fig. 191).28 This is the ‘false door’ of a dignitary with two names, Ikhi and Meri, responsible at the royal court for the organisation of distant expeditions, probably including expeditions to the stone quarries from which raw material was brought for the construction of the monumental temples and tombs in Memphis, the capital of the country.29 It was precisely this titulature that became a clue leading to Wadi Hammamat, located in the Eastern Desert in Upper Egypt, the place of famous quarries, in which the royal expeditions left many engravings on the rock with inscriptions of a high historical value. Ikhi-Meri also left behind traces of his presence here. Not only is he attested, but so is his son and namesake, bearing the same two names: Ikhi and Meri.30 This same descendant is mentioned also on his father’s ‘false door’ which we had unearthed and on the inscribed blocks excavated from the burial shaft, making it possible to suppose that the son might have been buried in the same tomb.31 The inscription from Wadi Hammamat also made it possible to establish that the expedition supervised by Ikhi took place during the reign of Pharaoh Pepi I. Since we have dated the death of Vizier Merefnebef to the first half of this pharaoh’s rule, it cannot be excluded that both courtiers knew each other, though it is difficult to imagine that Pepi’s confidant would be all that friendly with a representative of the opposite political camp, linked to a suspect king, perhaps even a usurper, who went by the name Userkare.

←412 | 413→ ←413 | 414→ ←414 | 415→

The exploration of the tomb belonging to this important historical figure was the most difficult enterprise in terms of logistics that we had ever undertaken in the course of our activities in Saqqara. It was hewn out into rock that is more reminiscent of stratified crumble cake than limestone. When we entered the interior of the spacious cult chapel through the thieves’ opening in the lateral wall, it was difficult to be enraptured by the ideally preserved white plate of the ‘false door,’ standing in its original spot by the western wall. A few enormous fragments of the ceiling, detached from the bedrock, hung above our heads, ready to plummet downwards at any moment. Maintaining the maximum of caution, we first had to construct a scaffolding consisting of vertical pales and horizontal boards, which took a few days. It was not until then that we could approach the ‘false door’ in order to read the tomb owner’s names and titles. We wondered why the inscription referred to two people, the father and the son, bearing the same name.

Unfortunately, the chapel lacked any kind of decoration on the crumbling wall surface with the structure of a layer-cake made up in turn of powdery and hard strata of various colours. We were soon to discover that initially doorjambs had stood to the sides of the ‘false door,’ made of the same highest-quality limestone. Inscriptions of a biographic nature had also been carved into their surface.32 But the doorjambs had not been preserved in situ. They had fallen inside the burial shaft that had been dug into the floor right in front of the ‘false door.’ In the process, they had broken apart into a few fragments, which we put into a whole after they had been recovered.

At a depth of about eight metres from the floor, when we had begun to hope to soon enter the burial chamber, a more serious obstacle appeared. Lying crosswise in the shaft, there was a huge rectangular stone slab, yet another ‘false door,’ cast inside the shaft by someone. Who, when and why had pushed it in there? Who did it belong to? We could not answer this last question as the slab had fallen with its decorated side facing downwards. In order to pull it out of the shaft, a special device with a turnstile would have to be installed (Fig. 191), which was a logistics undertaking exceeding the time we had available till the end of that campaign. As usual, the most important discovery of the excavation season had been made in the last week of the campaign. It can be assumed that the perpetrator that had ←415 | 416→caused our problems was once again a band of looters, but where had they dragged this ‘false door’ from and why had they thrown it into the shaft? Was this supposed to have been some sort of temporary blockage of the burial chamber they had never reached due to the crumbling texture of the rock at this depth, and that they had planned to complete their work at some other time? It is obvious that they never returned. And if that was the case, the burial chamber might have remained intact.

Our academic appetite grew by the minute, but we had to make do with hope and patiently wait until the next campaign, during which we would also take care of the opposite, eastern part of the chapel, beyond which the tomb’s façade was located. Paradoxically, ‘thanks’ to the ancient thieves, we were uncovering this structure from its interior to its front. We did not want to explore in a rush, so that we would not suddenly end up standing before decorated walls that would require immediate and prolonged conservation. However, during the next campaign, even more serious academic challenges faced us on the other, eastern side of the ‘Dry Moat,’ so we were only able to return to this mysterious tomb ten years later, when the exploration of this part of the necropolis became the most important aim.

In the autumn of 2012, we took advantage of the technologically versatile skills of a master famous throughout Cairo, a jack-of-all-trades called Mariusz Dybich (Fig. 191), who – especially among Egyptian Christians – is considered to be almost a saint, since he can do almost anything, from sculpting a religious scene on the rocks bordering the Coptic district called Moqattam to repairing the most complicated of mechanisms. In addition, he knows everyone and solves any problem he is faced with immediately. He dealt with the issue of the ‘false door’ blocking the lower part of Ikhi-Meri’s burial shaft within a few hours (Fig. 191). We had hoped that pulling this ton of stone to the surface would make it possible to answer a few questions. Instead, new mysteries appeared.

Imagine the disappointment felt by the archaeologists when it turned out that the decorated side of the ‘false door’ lifted out with such difficulty was anepigraphic, i.e. it did not contain any inscriptions. Thus, it is an unfinished work, though doubtless prepared for a particular person. The most probable candidate seems to be the tomb owner’s son, already mentioned on his father’s ‘false door’ and bearing the same name. This seems all the more likely since this tomb’s chapel, an exceptionally long one, consists of two parts separated from each other by a low threshold and not lying precisely on the same axis. In addition, in the front part, right in front of the threshold, there is a second burial shaft, while a shallow cavity runs along its western edge, the dimensions of which correspond exactly to the base ←416 | 417→of the anonymous ‘false door’.33 However, it is hard to imagine that such a plate would have been installed there without a hieroglyphic inscription, even though we had already encountered such cases in one of the largest, at least twice used tombs located on the opposite, eastern side of the ‘Dry Moat’,34 while the large ‘false door’ in another cult chapel hewn into the eastern façade of this gigantic trench only has the deceased’s name (Seshem-nefer) and two short titles (“companion, overseer of the palace”), carved out using very shallow relief.35 Such an inscription could have easily been made even when the stone slab had already been placed in its final destination and did not have a retaining wall behind it.

Therefore, if we assume that the ‘false door’ taken out from the burial shaft had originally been located (or was supposed to have been) in the front part of Ikhi-Meri’s cult chapel and was meant for his son, it could be expected that the burial chamber containing the body of Ikhi Junior was located at the bottom of the adjacent shaft, if he had at all been buried there and not instead been killed elsewhere, e.g., during one of the expeditions. The exploration of this shaft might have provided many explanations if it were not for… a new surprise that suddenly changed our plans. Of course, this happened again during the last week of our excavation campaign that year.

It was our main aim to complete the studies of the cult chapel, i.e. work that had been initiated ten years earlier. Moving further inside the chapel in an eastern direction, we would have come out into the courtyard before its fronton and we would have seen what the entrance to the tomb looked like. But there was yet another logistical challenge awaiting us, since the western wall of the façade, i.e. the eastern wall of the chapel, had not been hewn into the rock, but built from blocks of beautiful white limestone, of which part had fallen out or been taken out already in antiquity, which led to cracks forming and other of its fragments being displaced (Fig. 192). It looked especially bad above the entrance to the chapel.

If we had suddenly removed the rubble filling this gap, the entire stone structure would have collapsed onto out heads. Once again, we had to build wooden scaffolding immediately after unearthing another fragment of the ←417 | 418→wall. When this ‘tightrope walking’ was finally completed, we went through the gate and found ourselves in front of the beautifully decorated façade of Ichi-Meri’s tomb.36 It turned out that not only its western wall but also its lateral walls, adjacent to the bedrock, were made from blocks of white limestone of the highest quality, very different from the brittle local rock. Unfortunately, the upper part of the snow-white cladding had fallen away from the walls in antiquity. In this way, a significant part of the decoration adorning their surface, i.e. reliefs and paintings, had been lost (Fig. 194). Those that had been preserved led us to realise that the tomb decoration had never been completed, which seems almost to be a signum temporis in the mastabas of the dignitaries from these turbulent times. We have already observed this in the case of Nyankhnefertum’s cult chapel37 or the anonymous burial chamber containing an unfinished stone sarcophagus.38 It can ←418 | 419→be assumed that Ikhi-Meri the father died before his place of eternal rest was fully prepared for its cult functions.

In this context, what does surprise is the fact that the tomb was not completed by his son, considering he was to be buried in the second shaft we unearthed in the chapel interior. Perhaps neither of them returned from the next expedition and the burial chambers prepared for them remained empty. However, we will only find this out when we manage to reach at least one of the two chambers.

Even though the decoration of the tomb façade was never completed, and – in addition – it has not been preserved intact, the fragments we discovered contain information that casts new light on the tomb owner. The hieroglyphic inscriptions accompanying the scenes carved here are especially valuable. The inscriptions have been preserved on the façade’s northern wall (Figs. 193–194) and on both doorjambs flanking the courtyard. One of the inscriptions adds the function of general to Ikhi’s titulature,39 which makes it possible to assume that at least some of his expeditions were of a military character. If this was the case, both the tomb owner and his son might not ←419 | 420→have achieved eternal happiness in the tomb prepared for them. Which of them is portrayed with the sketch made by the painter on the western wall of the façade, where we can see a man seated in front of an enormous offering table in a large-sized scene (Figs. 192193)?40 This composition, belonging to the classical iconographic repertoire of the tombs of Egyptian dignitaries, is not accompanied by any inscription. While the sketch has all the features of a base for a planned relief, the execution of the latter clearly must have been abandoned, since the uncovered parts of the figure’s body were painted red, which normally only occurs after the relief is sculpted. In turn, on the northern wall the opposite procedure has been attested: in the upper register of the relief decoration, an almost natural-sized figure of the general has been portrayed, but it bears no traces of paint.41

The outstanding craftsmanship of the sculptor is evidenced by the only preserved element of this image, i.e. the foot of a man wearing sandals (Fig. 194). The modelling of the footwear and of the nails shows such skill ←420 | 421→that it builds up quite an appetite for finding the blocks on which the upper part of this figure was sculpted. These hopes are not completely vain, since one of the blocks, bearing a fragment of an inscription, was later found in the layer of sand filling the ‘Dry Moat’ in front of the chapel façade. The bottom register of this scene, depicting four priests bearing gifts for the tomb owner, was preserved in situ (Fig. 194).42 The beginnings of the planned polychromy are observable on this relief, since the painter managed to apply those elements of the painting that were black, primarily the long wigs of the offering bearers. This means that the work was unexpectedly interrupted, probably upon receiving news of the dignitary’s death. We also find out in this way that the first colour to be placed on a ready relief was black, probably to avoid any potential black stains on details with a different colouring.

In order to prepare the full documentation of the façade, it was necessary to clear its floor until the eastern edge of the courtyard, hewn into rock and linking the tomb with the ‘Dry Moat.’ What did the area linking them look like and what was the route leading from the cult chapel to this abyssal cavity? This time around our curiosity was awarded beyond expectations. The eastern, i.e. the external edge of the courtyard turned out to be a sharp rock edge, running along a straight line from north to south (Il. 30; Fig. 195). It seemed suspiciously regular, but why would it not have been, for example, the upper step of a monumental staircase hewn into the rock? However, when the vertical face of the tall ‘step’ revealed its bottom, equally sharp and regular edge, beneath it a hollow was outlined, recanting into the interior of the rock, our attention was raised to the level of high alert. After removing some more of the sand from in front of the suspect ‘step,’ it was possible to attest traces of a very weather-beaten hieroglyphic inscription running horizontally across its face.43

At that moment, everything became clear: the ‘step’ turned out to be the architrave of a rock tomb located beneath Ikhi-Meri’s chapel. The ceiling of the bottom tomb later played the role of the floor of the upper chapel. If this was the case, the entrance to the bottom structure should be located underneath the architrave, more or less in the middle of its length. In order to check if this was indeed the case, we deepened the trench slightly and could soon see the upper edge of a narrow, rectangular entrance.44 The size of the trench made it possible to look inside the new structure: the interior of the chapel was replete with a backfill almost up to the ceiling. Thus, for the first time in Saqqara, we were dealing with storeyed (perhaps multi-storeyed) Old Kingdom sepulchral architecture (Il. 31).

←421 | 422→ ←422 | 423→

This discovery immediately raised an abundance of questions. What period did the bottom tomb originate from? The stratigraphy suggests that it was earlier than Ikhi-Meri’s tomb, but by how many years? Since no remains of a passage are visible so far between both structures, it can be assumed that the upper tomb was only created when the lower one had been covered by sand; in the opposite case, there would not have been any passageway from the exterior to Ikhi’s cult chapel, and if that was the case, why would such a beautiful façade with two pillars have been built in front of it? The relatively early dating of the bottom tomb is suggested by the fact that the ‘son’s’ shaft in the front part of Ikhi’s chapel clearly vertically transpasses the structures of the tomb located lower down. It was either forgotten that there was an earlier ‘house of eternity’ located underneath, or its existence was acknowledged, but it was considered so old and unimportant that its perforation with a vertical shaft was not considered sacrilege.

Yet another fundamental issue refers to the thick layer of sand lying in front of the entrance to the bottom chapel. Just above its surface, we found one of the decorated blocks of white limestone that had fallen out of the façade of Ikhi’s chapel. It cannot be excluded that in the course of further exploration we will find more blocks (which we are quietly counting on), but this would raise the question of whether the façade of the bottom tomb had still been uncovered when the upper structure was in use. Perhaps the presence of fragments of the latter’s architecture in front of the entrance to the tomb located lower down was only the joint result of the ‘work’ done by looters and earthquakes?

←423 | 424→ ←424 | 425→

Our attention had thus far been focused on what was concealed inside the rock walls of the ‘Dry Moat’ (Fig. 196). However, the layers of sand that had over the course of many centuries filled this gigantic anthropogenic hollow could also turn out to be an important source of information. In order to study these layers in their chronological sequence, it is necessary to go as far down as the bottom of the ‘Moat,’ at least in a few diagnostic spots, which might turn out to be an undertaking equally time-consuming as it will be costly. One thing certain at the moment is that this will have to be research of a holistic nature, encompassing various fields of science, from geology, palaeozoology and palaeobotany to anthropology (Figs. 199–203), philology, ceramology, art history and history in general. In this way, the idea was born for an interdisciplinary project called ‘Dry Moat’ in Saqqara as a unique time capsule – a source for gaining knowledge about the history of the Memphite necropolis as a function of changes in the natural environment.

←425 | 426→

The prelude to these studies began in the beginnings of 2014 (Il. 31). We started with the tonnes of sand blocking the entrance to the bottom tomb. In order to get inside the interior from the side of the façade and not, for example, through the ceiling, which would be possible even now by using the ‘son’s’ shaft in Ikhi’s chapel, we would first have to clear the foreground, i.e. explore and remove a layer of sand eight metres deep, blocking the entrance to the lower chapel. However, its length and width are also important, because as we move further downwards it is necessary to build another stone retaining wall every forty to sixty centimetres to stop the sand bordering the trench from collapsing onto the workers and archaeologists. Thus, such a width of the trench needs to be calculated to ensure that the sequence of terraces leaves us at the bottom with a surface of the appropriate size, located opposite the entrance to the tomb in the desired layer.

We are not interested of course in the mechanical removal of sand. More or less in the middle of this depth lies another fragment of the Upper Necropolis, requiring slow exploration and precise documentation. During the 2014 campaign, we unearthed over thirty burials in this layer, which for various reasons deserved our attention.45 This is not only a paradise for an anthropologist, who sees a reflection of the life of yet another inhabitant of Memphis from the Ptolemaic period in every studied skeleton. The content of the fragment of the cemetery studied in 2014 indicates a topography conditioned by social stratification. These were almost exclusively burials of the poor, mummies and skeletons deposited in the sand without any sort of casing in the form of cartonnages or coffins. They contrast starkly with the content of this same necropolis in its northern part, located just a few dozen centimetres further, which we had unearthed over ten years earlier. There we had found beautiful coffins with varied shapes and decorations, doubtless containing the bodies of people from the higher layers of social hierarchy (Fig. 174).46 In contrast to this part of the cemetery, the place of burial of the poor contained many children’s skeletons, probably the victims of diseases and malnutrition (Figs. 197–198).

After exploring the Upper Necropolis at this place, we neared the ancient ground level corresponding to the floor of the lower Old Kingdom chapel. Underneath the layer of sand, the surface of the dakka we had expected appeared, i.e. a hard mass of earth mixed with fragments of various objects, mainly pottery vessels of a sepulchral purpose. It is worth mentioning that at a level slightly higher, in front of the entrance to Ikhi’s tomb, there was no dakka, but a stratum of desert sand, which over the course of centuries had filled the ‘Dry Moat’ up to its upper edge, and even slightly higher.

←426 | 427→ ←427 | 428→

Does this confirm the hypothesis that the tomb of an important general named Ikhi was only built after the structure lying below it had been covered with sand? What does the sequence of the strata look like in other parts of the ‘Dry Moat’ and what conclusions can be drawn from this for the history of Egypt spanning a period of 5000 years?

Let us allow the sands and rock to speak on behalf of the silent dead, before some device is invented that will open the mouths of the latter.

←428 | 429→ ←429 | 430→ ←430 | 431→ ←431 | 432→

1 K. Myśliwiec, “Eine geheimnisvolle Rampe und Plattform an der Westseite der Pyramide des Djoser,” Sokar. Das ägyptische Pyramidenzeitalter 11 (2005/2), pp. 6–7; K. Myśliwiec, “Fragen an eine Nekropole in Sakkara,” Sokar. Das ägyptische Pyramidenzeitalter 13 (2006/2), pp. 14–16; K. Myśliwiec, “Trois millénaires à l’ombre de Djéser: Chronologie d’une nécropole,” in: Ch. Zivie-Coche, I. Guermeur (eds.), “Parcourir l’éternité” – Hommages à Jean Yoyotte, Vol. 2, Brepols 2012, pp. 860–861.

2 Myśliwiec et al., The Tomb, Warsaw 2004, pp. 62–63, pls. XXIV e, XXV g, XXVI a–d, XXVII a–c, XXVIII a–c.

3 T. Rzeuska, “West Saqqara. The Pottery 2001,” Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 13 (2002): Reports 2001, pp. 155–157, figs. 3–4; T. Rzeuska, “Saqqara 2007: The Pottery,” Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 19 (2010): Reports 2007, p. 222.

4 F. Welc, “A New Kingdom Graffito on the Enclosure Wall of the Netjerikhet Funerary Complex,” Études et Travaux 22 (2008), pp. 225–235.

5 F. Welc, “Some Remarks on the Early Old Kingdom Structures Adjoining on the West Enclosure Wall of the Netjerykhet Funerary Complex,” Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 18 (2008): Reports 2006, pp. 174–179.

6 Myśliwiec et al., The Tomb, p. 44, pls. LXXVII a, d, LXXXV a–e, h; The Upper Necropolis, pp. 42–43, figs. 10–11 (sector V), pl. XXXVI a–c.

7 K. Myśliwiec, “West Saqqara Excavations, 2001,” Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 13 (2002): Reports 2001, pp. 135–140; K. Myśliwiec, “West Saqqara. Saqqara 2004,” Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 16 (2005): Reports 2004, pp. 148–152, figs. 1–5.

8 Myśliwiec, “West Saqqara. Saqqara 2004,” p. 152, fig. 5.

9 F. Welc et al., “Geophysical Survey (GPR) in West Saqqara (Egypt): Preliminary Remarks,” Studia Quaternaria 30/2 (2013), pp. 106–107.

10 G. Dreyer, “The Tombs of First and Second Dynasties at Abydos and Saqqara,” in: The Treasures of the Pyramids, pp. 74–75.

11 Myśliwiec, “West Saqqara. Saqqara 2004,” pp. 149, 151–152, fig. 4; K. Myśliwiec, “Saqqara Archaeological Activities, 2005,” Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 17 (2007): Reports 2005, pp. 160–168, figs. 5–11.

12 Kuraszkiewicz, Architecture, Warsaw 2013, pp. 45–59.

13 Myśliwiec, Kuraszkiewicz, The Funerary Complex, pp. 109–111 (XVII: Tomb of Khekeret).

14 Myśliwiec, Kuraszkiewicz, The Funerary Complex, p. 54 (VI: Corridor 3), fn. 26, pls. VI–VII, XXXV–XXXVI.

15 F. Welc, “Exploration of an Archaic (?) Funerary Structure in Sector 2002,” Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 17 (2007): Reports 2005, pp. 176–181; Myśliwiec, “Saqqara. Archaeological Activities, 2005,” pp. 160–168, figs. 9–11.

16 Myśliwiec, “Saqqara. Archaeological Activities, 2005,” p. 162, figs. 5–6; K. Myśliwiec, “Fragen an eine Nekropole in Sakkara,” Sokar. Das ägyptische Pyramidenzeitalter 13 (2006), pp. 14–16, Abb. 20–21.

17 Myśliwiec, “Trois millénaires à l’ombre de Djéser,” pp. 860–861, fn. 53–54.

18 F. Welc et al., Geophysical Survey (GPR) in West Saqqara (Egypt): Preliminary Remarks, pp. 99–108; Myśliwiec, “Archaeology Meeting Geophysics on Polish Excavations in Egypt,” Studia Quaternaria 30/2 (2013), pp. 45–59; F. Welc et al., “Preliminary Remarks on Enigmatic “White Casing Limestone” from Saqqara Archaeological Site in Egypt,” pp. 115–123.

19 Myśliwiec, “Trois millénaires à l’ombre de Djéser,” pp. 854–857.

20 M. Radomska et al., The Catalogue with Drawings (Saqqara III, Part 1), p. 33 (fig. 1), 34 (fig. 2), 35 (fig. 3), see pls. CCXIII–CCXVIII.

21 Radomska et al., The Catalogue with Drawings, pp. 216–221 (cat. 245, burial 295), pls. CVI b–c, CVII, CCXV–CCXVI.

22 Radomska et al., The Catalogue with Drawings, pp. 239–242 (burials 335–336, cat. 284–285), pls. CXVI c, CXVII, CCXVII.

23 Radomska et al., The Catalogue with Drawings, pp. 216–221 (burial 295, cat. 245), pl. CCXV c–d.

24 Radomska et al., The Catalogue with Drawings, pp. 247–250 (burials 345–346, cat. 292–293), pls. V, CCXX a–d.

25 A. Kowalska, “Catalogue of Finds from Outside the Burial Context,” in: The Upper Necropolis, pp. 394–396, 402–403, pls. CCLIII, CCLV–CCLVII, CCLX.

26 The Upper Necropolis, pp. 403–410, pl. CCLIX a–c.

27 T. Rzeuska, “The Pottery, 2002,” Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 14 (2003): Reports 2002, p. 144, fig. 1.

28 Myśliwiec, “West Saqqara in 2002,” pp. 123–127, figs. 14–15.

29 K. O. Kuraszkiewicz, “Inscriptions from the Tomb of Ikhi,” pp. 137–140. This title is ‘regulator of the crew of the ship.’ The other functions of the tomb’s owner include ‘overseer of the residence,’ ‘overseer of the scribes of the crews,’ ‘attendant of the pyramid of Pepi I,’ ‘attendant of the pyramid of Teti,’ ‘sealer of the King of Lower Egypt,’ ‘god’s sealer’ (= ship’s captain), ‘god’s sealer in two great boats,’ ‘royal chamberlain’ and ‘sole companion’ (p. 138), as well as the deceased man’s titles preserved in blocks found later: K. O. Kuraszkiewicz, “The Tomb of Ikhi/Mery in Saqqara and Royal Expeditions during the Sixth Dynasty,” Études et Travaux 27 (2014), pp. 204–214.

30 Kuraszkiewicz, “Inscriptions from the Tomb of Ikhi,” pp. 138–140. On the blocks found in his father’s grave shaft, Ichi/Meri II also bears one of his father’s titles (‘sealer of the King;’ p. 138).

31 Kuraszkiewicz, “Inscriptions from the Tomb of Ikhi,” p. 140.

32 Kuraszkiewicz, “Inscriptions from the Tomb of Ikhi,” pp. 138–140.

33 K. Myśliwiec, “Saqqara: Seasons 2012 and 2013/2014,” appendix Z. Godziejewski, U. Dąbrowska, “Conservation work in Saqqara (2012, 2014),” Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean XXIV/1, Research, pp. 215–229.

34 Kuraszkiewicz, Architecture, pp. 194–195 (XLI: Anonymous tomb, fig. 101, pls. CXL–CXLII a–b).

35 K. Myśliwiec, “West Saqqara. Excavations, 2000,” Polish Archaeology in the Mediterranean 12 (2001): Reports 2000, pp. 118–119, fig. 11.

36 Myśliwiec, “Das Grab des Ichi westlich der Djoser-Pyramide,” p. 52 (Abb. 11) and 54 (Abb. 15–16).

37 Myśliwiec, Kuraszkiewicz, The Funerary Complex, pp. 132–200, pls. LXI–LXVI, LXIX, LXXI, LXXXIII–LXXXVII, CXII–CXXXII.

38 F. Welc, “Installing a Stone Sarcophagus in the Burial Chamber of an Old Kingdom Shaft,” with an appendix by T. Rzeuska, “Pottery from the Shaft No. 113 and Its Burial Chamber,” Études et Travaux 23 (2011), pp. 179–211; Kuraszkiewicz, Architecture, pp. 178–185 (XXXVII), pls. CXXX–CXXXI.

39 See fn. 29.

40 See fn. 33.

41 See fn. 33.

42 See fn. 33.

43 See fn. 33.

44 See fn. 34.

45 See fn. 33.

46 See fn. 20–24.