The tomb of Kagemni


Kagemni was a vizier from the early part of the reign of King Teti of the Sixth dynasty of Egypt. Kagemni's wife Nebtynubkhet Sesheshet was a King's Daughter and likely the daughter of Teti.

The description of his positions is long: "A chief justice and vizier, Kagemni held many other titles associated with the office, such as overseer of the scribes of the king’s documents, overseer of all the works of the king, overseer of the six great courts, overseer of all hearings, over-seer of the two bureaux of the registry, overseer of the two houses of gold, overseer of the two treasuries, overseer of Upper Egypt, overseer of commissions in the entire land and overseer of the entire land of Upper and Lower Egypt. He had many important religious duties, including that of the high priest of Re and the stolist of Min. Some of Kagemni’s responsibilities were in the service of the king, including overseer of the two chambers of the king’s adornment, director of the mansions of the White and Red Crowns, keeper of the head ornaments, overseer of all commands of the king and confidant of the king, foremost of his two banks (river banks)." (Kanawati 2003 p.86f)


His tomb "is the largest mastaba in the Teti cemetery, measuring 32 x 32 metres and therefore square. Entirely constructed of limestone, the mastaba has a chapel which occupies almost one-third of its total area. This is formed of six rooms, a pillared hall, a series of five magazines, two chambers to contain boats, a serdab and stairway to the roof. The walls of the chapel rooms are decorated in very fine relief. The shaft is accessible from the roof and descends to a total depth of 24 metres, 21 of which are excavated into the rock. It leads to a large burial chamber, the walls of which were lined with limestone and decorated. The chamber contained an inscribed stone sarcophagus, into which was placed an inscribed wooden coffin." (Kanawati 2003 p.87)

The tomb consists of a hall right after the entrance, followed by a pillared hall and then a suite of rooms to the north of the pillared hall. The entrance hall contains scenes of daily life, including a scene with dancers. The pillared hall shows scenes of Vizier Kagemni on a boat which is accompanied by a small papyrus skiff carrying three men. There are scenes of fishing and scenes of the wildlife including crocodiles, dragonflies and frogs. Other scenes in the pillared hall show cattle, including a man carrying a calf and a cow being milked.

The rooms off the pillared hall show Kagemni in a carrying chair with attendants. This scene includes several of his titles. Other scenes in this room show birds including a scene where geese are being force fed. Another scene shows hyenas being force fed, in a manner very similar to that in the tomb of Mereruka. (Lauer 1976)

"Instructions to Kagemni" - the oldest book of the world?

There are some remarkable other things related with Kagemni. First, there are the "instructions to Kagemni", with Kagemni's father as the possible author, which may be part of the oldest book of the world which currently exists.

Politically motivated image manipulation in Kagemni's tomb?

Then, there have been some clearly intentional manipulations of the reliefs in the tomb. The most plausible explanation is political punishment of some persons by deleting their images. So, this tomb may be also the place of the first known case of image manipulation for political reasons.

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