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Limestone false door of Ptahshepses
From Saqqara, Egypt
5th Dynasty, around 2380 BC
A long-lived high priest of Ptah
In the Old Kingdom, acting as an interface between the worlds of the living and of the dead, (about 2613-2160 BC) false doors were a standard feature of tombs in the Memphite region. This is a particularly large and impressive example.
It has a 'palace façade', so-called after the royal brick palaces that were thought to look like this). Here the façade is covered with single columns of text giving Ptahshepses’ titles.
Ptahshepses' main position was as the High Priest of Ptah. The two right-hand columns of text state that he was among the royal children in the reigns of Menkaure and Shepseskaf, the last two major kings of the Fourth Dynasty (about 2613-2494 BC). If the four remaining large columns had another royal name at the top, it would extend his career at least until the reign of Niuserre in the Fifth Dynasty. It is possible then that Ptahshepses lived from about 2490 to about 2400 BC, a very long life for anyone at that time.
T.G.H. James and W.V. Davies, Egyptian sculpture (London, The British Museum Press, 1983)
T.G.H. James (ed.), Hieroglyphic texts from Egyp-9, Part 1, 2nd edition (London, The British Museum Press, 1961)