Funerary Chapel of Hetepherachet from 5th dynasty of the Old Kingdom epoch in Ancient Egypt (Scenes from one Funerary Chapel)

Funerary Chapel of Hetepherachet, Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (Dutch National Museum of Antiquities), Leiden, Netherlands  
Limestone, 306 x 280 x 475 cm, F 1904/3.1-b
Provenance: Sakkara (Saqqara), ca. 2400 B.C. (5th dynasty), Egypt.

This original Chapel is part of mastaba (burial chamber). From the inscription above the entrance of the tomb is understood that this tomb belongs to "oldest in the hall and priest of the goddess Maat (Ma’at)", the Egyptian goddess of Truth, Balance, Order and Justice. On the façade side of mastaba Hetepherakhet is shown with his son Nianchptah. By the text on the columns on both sides of the door, he sends an epistle to visitors to his grave.

In ancient Egypt, the theme for life after death in another form is of utmost importance. This is the theme that marks all aspects of real earthly life. Throughout his life, the various layers of Egyptian society have engaged in preparation for the afterlife, in the conviction that the soul passes into eternity after death. They believed that in life after death should have everything you need like food, all kinds of accessories, dishes, favorite things and more. Therefore, in the Old Kingdom epoch, the ancient Egyptians have invested a lot of time and resources to prepare theirs eternal houses. These were different types of construction such as the famous pyramids for the pharaohs and royal personages. For other social groups of the ancient Egyptian society there were built other forms of burial chambers and eternal houses, the ancient Egyptian burial tombs called mastabas, having the shape of a truncated pyramid in its overground part. Mastabas are the graves of relatives of Pharaoh and senior civil servants. They were built of adobe or stone, in north-south direction. In the above ground part of this structure is separated offerings room equipped with a false door, to which the priests and family members wore a food and other gifts for the soul of the deceased. In the underground part of the burial construction was hidden chamber, called serdab (Egyptian tomb structure) where was placed a statue of the deceased, hidden in the masonry to be protected. In the walls of this serdab was left a small opening to allow the aroma of fragrant oils and spoken words in the memorial ceremonies to reach the statue of the deceased.

In the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden is shown an overall burial chamber mastaba from the 5th Dynasty of Old Kingdom, part of the permanent Egyptian collection of the museum. This is the mastaba of the judge and priest of the goddess Maat, Hetepherachet. In its original state the mastaba of Hetepherakhet must have a length of 24.85 m, width 12.80 m. and a height of 5.40 m. This mastaba was discovered in the 19th century by Frenchman Auguste Mariette (1821-1881), near the Serapeum in Saqqara. The Mastaba chapel of Hetepherachet is magnificently decorated with reliefs illustrating iconic food scenes from agriculture and livestock in the delta of river Nile. The quality of the reliefs is superb, one of the best examples in the ancient Egyptian art and sculpture, and demonstrate astounding variety of animals and nature scenes. On the walls of the chapel are presented many amazing scenes of earthly life related to agriculture, animal husbandry, harvesting and scenes related to birds and fishing, as well as to the production of going vessels and processing of papyrus. In the chapel is further made a false door through which the deceased had a magical access to left for him offerings to not go hungry his soul. On the rear wall of the chapel there is a Stella-door made of huge block of limestone. Through this door the deceased magically enter the chapel to receive the offerings.

The doorposts are covered with hieroglyphics, of which becomes clear what was the rank of Hetepherachet. This is not just a "Right", "Senior hall" and "Priest of the goddess Maat", also "Priest of the temple pyramid of Pharaoh Neferirkare Kakai" and "Prophet and Leader of the cult Temple" in the solar sanctuary of Pharaoh Nyuserre Ini. On both sides of the entrance of the chapel has inscriptions. The left text, in a beautifully carved hieroglyphics, clearly refutes the misconception that Egyptians are people of exploiters. There, Hetepherachet says: I leave this tomb created a completely new, without anyone to deny everything. The workers who have worked on, there was most grateful. They carry out their task for bread, beer, textile, oil and corn. None of them was forced to work. Because God loves justice. From the inscriptions it's also known that the Pharaohs reward their senior officials of merit as have built for them mastabas. And not only the tomb, "house for eternity", but even heavy equipment, sarcophaguses, stelae, altars and statues were made as a donation to the state account, according to the rules in Ancient Egypt.

Source of information: Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (Dutch National Museum of Antiquities), Leiden, Netherlands.  

Related images

Funerary Chapel of Hetepherachet, Egyptian collection (5th dynasty) Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden

Scenes from Funerary Chapel of Hetepherachet, Ancient Egypt, Dutch National Museum of Antiquities

Scenes from Funerary Chapel of Hetepherachet, Ancient Egypt, Dutch National Museum of Antiquities

Scenes from Funerary Chapel of Hetepherachet, Ancient Egypt, Dutch National Museum of Antiquities

Scenes from Funerary Chapel of Hetepherachet, Ancient Egypt, Dutch National Museum of Antiquities

Funerary Chapel of Hetepherachet, Egyptian collection (5th dynasty) Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden

Scenes from Funerary Chapel of Hetepherachet, Ancient Egypt, Dutch National Museum of Antiquities

Scenes from Funerary Chapel of Hetepherachet, Ancient Egypt, Dutch National Museum of Antiquities

Scenes from Funerary Chapel of Hetepherachet, Ancient Egypt, Dutch National Museum of Antiquities

Scenes from Funerary Chapel of Hetepherachet, Ancient Egypt, Dutch National Museum of Antiquities

Scenes from Funerary Chapel of Hetepherachet, Ancient Egypt, Dutch National Museum of Antiquities

Scenes from Funerary Chapel of Hetepherachet, Ancient Egypt, Dutch National Museum of Antiquities

Scenes from Funerary Chapel of Hetepherachet, Ancient Egypt, Dutch National Museum of Antiquities

Scenes from Funerary Chapel of Hetepherachet, Ancient Egypt, Dutch National Museum of Antiquities

Funerary Chapel of Hetepherachet, Egyptian collection (5th dynasty) Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden

Funerary Chapel of Hetepherachet, Egyptian collection (5th dynasty) Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden

Scenes from Funerary Chapel of Hetepherachet, Ancient Egypt, Dutch National Museum of Antiquities

Scenes from Funerary Chapel of Hetepherachet, Ancient Egypt, Dutch National Museum of Antiquities

Related links

http://maatlaws.blogspot.be/

https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/streetview/IgEpj0Cl-qMUYQ?hl=en

http://nickyvandebeek.com/2016/05/bread-and-beer-for-hetepherakhet/