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The mastaba tomb of Mehu at Saqqara

Geoffrey Lenox-Smith visits a recently-opened mastaba tomb at Saqqara.

ABOVE: Vizier Mehu shown in the chapel of his newly-opened tomb at Saqqara. BELOW: A diagram showing Mehu’s tomb in relation to the Step Pyramid enclosure and the Pyramid of Unas.

Mehu was vizier of Egypt in the early Sixth Dynasty (around 2,300 BC), probably serving King Teti and King Pepy I, as well as the ephemeral Userkara. His tomb at Saqqara is one of the best preserved of this period, retaining much of the colour of the decorations inside. It was discovered in 1940 by Zaki Saad and was opened to the public in September 2018.

The tomb is located to the south of the Step Pyramid enclosure, close to King Unas’ causeway. It abuts the tomb of Princess Idut, a daughter of King Unas (see right), so Mehu must have had good royal connections, either by birth or by marriage. With the tomb standing in the Unas area, it seems likely that it was started during the reign of Unas, before Mehu had risen to the rank of vizier. The topography of the area means that Mehu’s tomb was built lower than its adjacent tombs; because of this, the stonerobbers of later periods were unable to find it. So much of the tomb has survived intact, including the roof which has therefore protected the coloured scenes within the tomb.

The survival of the surrounding stone walls is another factor leading to the survival of the tomb.


ANCIENT EGYPT April/May 2019

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