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Work Wall of the tomb of Akhetâa

Department of Egyptian Antiquities: From the late prehistoric period to the late Middle Kingdom (circa 3800 - 1710 BC)

Paroi gauche de l'entrée de la tombe du chef des travaux Akhetâa

© Musée du Louvre/C. Décamps

Egyptian Antiquities
From the late prehistoric period to the late Middle Kingdom (circa 3800 - 1710 BC)

Aït-Kaci Lili, Ragazzoli Chloé

The bas-relief and texts carved into this fine limestone wall represent and name Akhetâa (a very high dignitary of the late 3rd Dynasty) and list his many functions and titles. This high quality block adorned the doorway to the offering chapel of his tomb. The exact site of the latter is unknown, but we are fairly certain that it was in the necropolis of Saqqara.

A dignitary's tomb at the dawn of the Old Kingdom

This block adorned the doorway to the funerary chapel of the tomb of Akhetâa, a high dignitary at the dawn of the Old Kingdom. Although the exact site of his tomb is unknown, we have good reason to believe that it was in the North Saqqara necropolis. Two of its blocks were re-used in the nearby village of Abusir. Fragments from the same tomb (which were dispersed to various museums) have made it possible to reconstruct the archaic-style cruciform plan of the chapel. The text helps with dating: one of Akhetâa's titles was "[funerary] priest of the temple of [the king] Nebka", so he cannot have lived prior to the reign of that king, who was Djoser's predecessor.

The image of the deceased

The block is carved on both faces. The narrower face bears the titles of the deceased, the wider shows a represention of Akhetâa in a striding position, as if heading out of the chapel to greet the visitor. He holds a long cane and a scepter, symbols of his rank. The relief work is particularly intricate on details such as the hair, clothing, and hieroglyphs. The face is framed by a short tiered wig. His long tunic is of an unusual design which leaves his left shoulder bare; it has a pleated front, and is tied with a large knot.

The titulary

The title "Governor of the great domain" is inscribed in front of Akhetâa, and preceded by other inscriptions which seem to have been added at a later date. They name him "Director of the city of Pe, in the region of Unu, and of the city of the lake" (rare titles referring to the Delta region), and "Commander of the domains of the red crown." His many administrative and religious functions are listed above in five columns, with other titles which indicate that he was a member of the royal entourage.


Arnold Dorothea, Grzymski Krzysztof, Ziegler Christiane (sous la dir. de), L'Art égyptien au temps des pyramides, cat. exp. Paris, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, 6 avril-12 juillet 1999, New York, The Metropolitan museum of art, 16 septembre 1999-9 janvier 2000, Toronto, Musée royal de l'Ontario, 13 février-22 mai 2000, exposition co-organisée par la Réunion des musées nationaux à Paris, le Metropolitan museum of art à New York et le
Musée royal de l'Ontario à Toronto, Paris, Éditions de la Réunion
des musées nationaux, 1999, pp. 163-164, notice n 18.
Chevereau Pierre-Marie, "Contribution à la prosopographie des cadres militaires de l'Ancien Empire et de la Première Période intermédiaire", in Revue d'Égyptologie, t. 38, Paris, Éditions Peeters, 1987, p. 36.
Kahl J., Kloth et Zimmermann, Die Inschriften des 3. Dynastie, 1995, p. 206, A 209.
Smith William Stevenson, A History of Egyptian Sculpture and Painting in the Old Kingdom, Oxford University Press, 1946, p. 148, A 156, pl. 33 et 36.
Ziegler Christianne, Catalogue des stèles, peintures et reliefs égyptiens de l'Ancien Empire et de la Première Période intermédiaire : vers 2686-2040 av. J.-C., musée du Louvre, Département des antiquités égyptiennes, Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1990, pp. 96-100, notice n 14.

Technical description

  • Paroi gauche de l'entrée de la tombe du chef des travaux Akhetâa

    vers 2650 avant J.-C. ? (fin 3e dynastie)

    trouvée dans le cimetière de Saqqara

  • calcaire

    H. : 1,15 m. ; L. : 0,75 m. ; Pr. : 0,17 m.

  • B 2, B 1

  • Egyptian Antiquities

    Sully wing
    1st floor
    The Old Kingdom, c. 2700–2200 BC
    Room 635
    Vitrine 01

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