The tomb of Meryrahashtef, an ancient Egyptian official

Meryrahashtef was an Egyptian official of the Sixth Dynasty (about 2345-2181 BC). He was buried in the cemetery of Sedment, close to the town of Heracleopolis in Middle Egypt. This cemetery was in use from the late Old Kingdom (about 2613-2160 BC) to the Ptolemaic Period (about 332-30 BC). His tomb, discovered by W.M. Flinders Petrie, contained a series of statues showing him at different stages of life. This type of statue was often included in the funerary equipment of wealthy individuals at this time. One of the statues from the tomb of Meryrahashtef was found in the fill of the tomb shaft and is now in The British Museum. The wooden statue was found with two other male statues. All three statues are uninscribed, but probably represent the tomb owner, Meryrahashtef. A female statue and three wooden models were also present in the tomb. The models show the production of various types of food, including beer, fowl and bread.

The male statues are shown without clothes, even though it is unusual for men of high status to be depicted in this way. Lack of clothes usually indicates lack of status, whether in childhood or as a servant. Nude statues of wealthy men are known from the late Fifth Dynasty (about 2494-2345 BC) and the Sixth Dynasty (about 2345-2181 BC); the nude statues usually show the men as rather youthful and thus are symbolic of the rejuvenation and rebirth hoped for in the afterlife.

Related galleries