Tomb of Queen Meresankh III

Under the shadow of the Great Pyramid lies the mastaba of Queen Meresankh III, the wife of Khafra and granddaughter of Khufu. Both very large and exquisitely decorated, this is indeed a tomb worthy of her rank—and fortunately also contains the best preserved wall reliefs in the Eastern Cemetery.

These are decorated with a diverse array of scenes, including bread baking, beer brewing, fowling, herding, mat making, metal smelting, and the sculpting of statues, apparently of Meresankh herself. These, along with the elaborate scenes of offering-bearers bringing all sorts of gifts to Meresankh, were intended to magically provide her soul with a continuous stream of food and goods in the afterlife. Interestingly, among the objects being brought to her are a canopy with a bed being set up within it, an armchair, and a carrying chair. Actual examples of very similar objects were discovered in the tomb of Hetepheres I, the mother of Kufu, and can be seen today at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Among the most striking features of Meresankh’s tomb chapel is a series of ten large statues of women that are carved out of the northern wall. It is believed that they represent, in addition to Meresankh herself, her mother, and daughters as well.

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