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Tomb of Neferherenptah

Neferherenptah was a barber in the royal palace with the title ‘ Overseer of Hairdressers of the Great House’. He was the father of a judge and scribe called Ptahshepses. The Mastaba of Neferherenptah was found among a group of rock-cut tombs on the southern side of the causeway of Unas at Saqqara. It was first discovered during excavations of this section by Ahmed Moussa between 1964 and 1972. It is famously known as ‘the Bird Tomb’. It is a rock-cut tomb whose owner lived in the Fifth Dynasty. It comprises a single chamber, with its entrance facing north. One can enter the tomb through a modern staircase leading from the causeway. Although it was unfinished, its decoration includes interesting examples of sketched paintings and some fine completed reliefs. On the walls of this tomb, there are scenes related to hairdressing, in addition to other scenes depicting the tending of cattle, various kinds of birds, offerings, preparation of food, the mating and calving of livestock, milking and servants bringing wine-jars as offerings to the ka of Neferherenptah. Also depicted are scenes of agricultural activities, such as picking sycamore figs, netting and caging birds (pigeons and other birds), watering and harvesting of onions, fruit-picking, gardening and ploughing. Servants are shown gathering from the garden fruit and vegetables into huge baskets. Other men are engaged in picking and treading grapes while others wield sticks. Further in there are depictions sketched on the walls, which were meant to be cut as reliefs and painted but this never happened. Here the reliefs depict a painted scene high on the wall showing a beautiful representation of the bird-hunt with a flock of birds rising into the air from a papyrus thicket.

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