Report on the Archaeological Fieldwork of the
Australian-Egyptian Expedition in the Tomb of Mereruka
The expedition started its work on the 2nd of January 2008 and finished on the 14th February 2008. Work was concentrated in the chapel of Waatet-khethor, beautiful name Seshseshet, with the aim of completing the recording of certain details in the scenes and inscriptions and re-photographing some of the scenes which we realised needed clearer images. A complete study of the colour conventions was also undertaken. All of the photographs and drawings which were previously prepared had to be checked in preparation for the publication of the chapel within the year of 2008.
Our studies have demonstrated the
special importance of this chapel and the distinguished position of its owner,
who appears seated in a palanquin that is decorated with the figure of a
recumbent lion. This motif is certainly a royal one and it does not appear in
On the other hand, in the chapel of his mother Waatet-khethor, Mery-Teti was described as her son, her beloved. Such a designation was unlikely to cause any confusion as she is represented in this context practically on a throne. Mery-Teti appears with his mother in every scene within her chapel except when she sits at the offering table on the north and south walls adjacent to her false door. The latter of which is decorated with a palace façade. Mery-Teti also appears with his mother in the above mentioned palanquin scene where she sits on the throne decorated with the figure of a lion.
We also noticed that at the end of Teti’s reign, the king produced a son named Pepi I. Accordingly Mery-Teti lost the privileges that he gained as the heir apparent and his parents also seem to have lost their special status. This is reflected in the poor quality of the scenes which appear in the rooms of their chapels that were presumably decorated after the birth of Pepi I. This coincides with the inscription in Room A10 where Mery-Teti is referred to as “his son”, that is Mereruka’s son, and not the eldest son of the king of his body.
In the chapel of Waatet-khethor, a daughter by the name of Nebu-ib is represented and described as “her daughter, her beloved”, although no daughters are depicted in the tomb of Mereruka. As Mereruka regularly depicted his wife in most of the scenes in his chapel and represented his mother a number of times it is rather unlikely that the absence of the daughter in his chapel was due to his desire not to commemorate his daughter because of her gender. Mereruka was obviously very proud of his marriage to princess Waatet-khethor and accordingly it would have been expected for him to record all offspring of this marriage. It seems more likely in this case that the daughter Nebu-ib was born after the completion of the decoration of Mereruka’s chapel or more likely after the death of Mereruka himself.
The skeletal remains of Waatet-khethor were found in the 1920’s and were sent to
The expedition contacted the Anatomy
I would like to take this opportunity to present my sincere thanks to the Supreme Council of Antiquities for permission to continue my work in this important tomb and I would like to present special thanks to Prof. Dr. Zahi Hawass, the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities; Mr. Sabri Abd-el-Aziz, the Head of the Egyptian Archaeology Sector; Mr. Madgy El-Ghandour, Director General of the Permanent Committee and Expedition Affairs; Mr. Osama El-Shimi, Director General of Archaeology at Saqqara; and Mr. Sabri Farag, Chief Inspector of Saqqara; for all the help they provided in facilitating our task. Special thanks are also due to our accompanying inspectors, Mr. Amir Nabil and Miss Miral Lashin, who spared no effort in assisting us in all aspects of our work.
This was a report of the Australian/Egyptian expedition on the tomb of Mereruka in the season of 2008.
Head of the Australian Expedition, Head of the Egyptian Expedition,
Naguib Kanawati Mahmoud Abd El-Raziq
Fig. 1 Waatetkhethor on a throne like seat
Fig. 2 Waatetkhethor with her son Meryteti and daughter Ibnebou
Fig. 3 Waatetkhethor’s palace façade in the offering room