Offering Chapel of Sekhemankhptah

Offering chapel of Sekhemankhptah
Egypt, from Saqqara, Old Kingdom, Dynasty 5, 24652323 B.C.E.
Painted limestone
Emily Esther Sears Fund 1904, MFA #04.1760
Photos ©Joan Ann Lansberry, 2014

"This chapel comes from the tomb of Sekhemankhptah, a priest and scribe who held important judical and treasury offices during the Fifth Dynasty. The false door, inscribed with Sekhemankhptah's name and titles, followed by a prayer for offerings, occupies the entire west wall of the chapel. Sekhemankhptah appears on the north wall, seated at a table filled with tall, conical loaves of bread. Beside the table is a massive pile of food offerings. Below, offering bearers present trays laden with food and beverages. In the bottom register, butchers prepare cuts of meat.

"On the opposite wall, Sekhemankhptah inspects a variety of agricultural activities, such as plowing, sowing and reaping flax, and loading donkeys. In the registers above are a procession of desert wildlife, a duck hunting scene, and three papyrus boats filled with men engaged in a sport in which they attempt to knock each other into the water with poles. At the right end of each register, scribes report to Sekhemankhptah, some carrying their spare pencils tucked behind their ears. The wall opposite the false door shows a variety of birds emerging from a lush papyrus marsh. Below are scenes of cattle husbandry and butchery. "(From the info card)

In this and the first photo, Sekhemankhptah's name is clearly visible.

This and the other beef hauling scenes might just be to ensure Sekhemankhptah has plenty of food. But there's added meaning here. The following is a model now housed at the Met museum:


Model of the foreleg of a horned animal, perhaps from a foundation deposit
New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, ca. 14001295 B.C.E.
Wood; remains of black pigment, length: 12.7 cm (5 in.)
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, MMA 2006.16

The foreleg has a role in Egyptian mythology:


"In the stars of the Great Bear the Egyptians saw an adze (mshtyu) or a fore-leg (hps)"
(Text TeVelde, Illustration Ann Macy Roth)
The foreleg may be used in the Opening of the Mouth Ceremony. (There's more on the adze HERE)

Some nicely detailed hieroglyphs

The museum website has many photos of scenes I didn't photograph. One grayscale museum photo gives better context for three of my photos below it: