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Historical Archaeology & Anthropological Sciences

Mini Review Volume 4 Issue 4

The tomb owner depicted fishing and/or fowling, wearing a necklace and an amulet in the private tombs of the old kingdom

Saleh Soleiman

Faculty of Archaeology, Damietta University, Egypt

Correspondence: Saleh Soleiman, Faculty of Archaeology, Damietta University, Egypt

Received: July 28, 2019 | Published: August 21, 2019

Citation: Soleiman. The tomb owner depicted fishing and/or fowling, wearing a necklace and an amulet in the private tombs of the old kingdom. J His Arch & Anthropol Sci. 2019;4(4):144-147. DOI: 10.15406/jhaas.2019.04.00193

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This article deals with the scene of the deceased fishing and/or fowling, wearing a necklace and an amulet in the private tombs of the Old Kingdom. This scene is collected from the tombs. The appearance and continuity of this scene are studied. The connection of this jewelry to any of the fishing or fowling scene is identified. The number of its depiction in the same tomb is introduced. The connection of this jewelry to any other accessories is studied.

Keywords: old kingdom, tomb, fishing, fowling, necklace, amulet


The tomb owner and his family members are depicted wearing necklaces of two different kinds. The short necklace, a wide collar encircling the neck, is a type which appears in tomb illustrations from the early Dynasties to the reign of Djedefre. The longer one is hanging down in front and has a pendant. This appears in tomb illustrations from the time of Cheops to the reign of Pepy I.1 The second kind is, according to Cherpion, characteristic of the Fifth Dynasty and very rarely appears in the Sixth Dynasty.2 As Harpur mentions, the pendant in the necklace is usually referred to as an amulet, a safe yet uninformative description. Sometimes it is described as a heart without an explanation for its protrusions to the left and right. She suggests that this item of jewelry could represent a stylized version of a fisted hand, with the fingers curled around a roll of cloth and the elongated thumb extending downwards.3 The tomb owner wears this necklace on different occasions. For example, when he is depicted observing daily life scenes such as agriculture, workshops,4 fishing, fowling, 5 hunting in the desert, animals and poultry yards, making wine, boys playing games, cattle crossing a canal, the gathering of papyrus, 6 reports of his possessions,7 and the presentation of offerings. 8 It is also seen when the tomb owner is depicted sitting before the offering table, 9 being carried in a palanquin,10 fishing and fowling.

In the fishing and/ or fowling scene, the tomb owner is represented standing on a papyrus skiff, as a spear fisherman and/or fowler. Below the vessel is a band representing water and before the figure is a clump of papyrus representing the thicket. 11 This scene, showing a marsh-related activity, belongs to the first of the fifteenth identified themes of illustrations in Old Kingdom private tombs. 12 Of these marsh-related activities, twenty eight different scenes have been identified. 13 The tomb owner depicted as a spear fisherman and/or fowler is very common scene.  It can be found in about 96 Old Kingdom tombs; 93 were counted by Harpur,14 plus Inumin, 15 Remni,16 and Ptahshepses, the recently discovered and unpublished tomb at Gisr El-Mudir in Saqqara. It is found in the following eighteen cemeteries as follows; Memphis Necropolis (Giza, Abusir, Saqqara, Dahshur and Maidum) and provinces (El-Kom el-Ahmar, Zawet el-Maiyetin, Sheikh Said, Quseir el-Amarna, Dier el-Gebrawi, Meir, El-Hawawish, Nag el-Deir, El-Hagarsa, Dendera, El-Qasr wa-’l-Said, El-Khokha, and Qubbet el-Hawa). 17

Tomb owner depicted fishing and/or fowling, wearing a necklace and an amulet

Of 96 examples of the deceased fowling and/or fishing, only eight examples represent the tomb owner wearing a necklace with an amulet. We believe that the reason for this scarcity of this scene is that this activity of fowling and/or fishing needs a lot of movement and wearing the necklace with the amulet is not done with that movement.

These eight examples are in seven tombs located in the following four cemeteries;

  1. Za-ib G 2092, G 2093, West Field, Giza. 18(Figure 1)
  2. Iynefert, Menkaure’s cemetery, Giza. 19(Figure 2)
  3. Nikauisesi, Teti’s cemetery, Saqqara. 20(Figure 3)
  4. Merefnebef, west of the Step Pyramid, Saqqara. 21(Figure 4)
  5. Ptahshepses, recently discovered and unpublished tomb located in Gisr El-Mudir, west of the Step Pyramid, Saqqara. It includes two scenes. (Figure 5A−D)
  6. Khunes no. 2, Zawet el-Maiyetin.22 (Figure 6)
  7. Henku II N 67, Dier el-Gebrawi. 23(Figure 7)

Figure 1 Za-ib fowling (after Roth, Palace Attendants, pl. 185).

Figure 2 Iynefert fowling (after Schürmann, Ii-nefert, Abb. 6).

Figure 3 Nikauisesi fowling (photo by the author).

Figure 4 Merefnebef fowling (

Figure 5A Ptahshepses fishing and fowling (photo by the Author).

Figure 5B Ptahshepses fishing (photo by the Author).

Figure 5C Ptahshepses fowling (photo by the Author).

Figure 5D Detail of Ptahshepses fowling (photo by the Author).

Figure 6 Khunes fowling (after LD. II, 106 [a]).

Figure 7 Henku fishing (after Davies, Deir El-Gebrawi, II, pl. xxiii. We added for Davies’s publication the amulet of the person because it was shown).

The oldest attestation of this scene comes from the tomb of Za-ib at Giza, which is dated to the reign of Isesi.24 This scene continues to be depicted in later tombs as follows; Khunes, 25 dated to the reigns of Isesi and Unas, Ptahshepses, dated to Teti’s reign,26 Nikauisesi, dated to the reign of Teti27 Merefnebef, dated to Teti and Pepy I,28 then Henku, which is dated to Pepy I. 29So this scene appears from the time of Isesi until the reign of Pepy I.

This scene appeared also in the tomb of Iynefert, which Egyptologists had a different dating to it; Cherpion suggested its dating Menkaure’s reign.30 Baer suggested a period from Menkauhor to early of Pepy II.31 Porter and Moss were confused, so they suggested it’s dating Dynasty V or VI.32 The last dating for this tomb is Harpur’s study which dated it with some doubt to Isesi and Unas?.33 We can date the tomb of Iynefert according to this scene of the deceased fishing and/or fowling, wearing a necklace and an amulet to a certain time from Isesi’s to Pepy I’s reigns.

This necklace with an amulet is more connected to the tomb owner fowling than fishing, because we have six examples for deceased fowling (Za-ib, Iynefert, Khunes, Ptahshepses, Nikauisesi, and Merefnebef), but only two examples for deceased fishing (Ptahshepses and Henku). The tomb owner is usually depicted once in this marsh-related activity in the same tomb wearing the necklace with the amulet, and rarely twice. There are six tombs where is only one depiction of the deceased in this pose and one tomb where he appears twice (Ptahshepses). In this scene, the necklace with the amulet is never found without the collar. The collar, though, is often worn without the necklace with the amulet (for example; Khufukhaef II G 7150,34 Senedjemib/Inti G 2378, 35 Kaemankh G 4561, 36 and Meryranefer/Qar G 710137 at Giza, Niankhchnum and Chnumhotep, 38 Hetepherakhti D 60, 39 Rashepses LS 16, 40 Neferseshemptah and Sekhentiu41 at Saqqara, Shedu at Deshasha, 42 Khuwenwekh at Quseir el-Amarna, 43Ibi, Zau, Henku, Hemre I at Deir El-Gebrawi, 44 Pepiankh/ Heny-kem, Pepiankh-heri-ib at Meir, 45Bawi, Shepsipumin H 24, Kahep H 26 and Hemmin at El-Hawawish, 46Meru N 3737 at Nagc el-Deir,47 Wahi D 4, Mery-aa D 18 at El-Hagarsa, 48 Mekhu and Sabni, Khunes A 6 at Qubbet el-Hawa). 49

1Cherpion N. Mastabas et hypogées d’Ancien Empire–Le probléme de la datation. Brussels; 1989. p. 60–62, 183–184, figs. 51, 52.

2Ibid p. 60−2, 183−4.

3Harpur Y, Scremin P. The Chapel of Kagemni-Scene Details. Oxford; 2006. p. 479.

4Steindorff G, Das Grab des Ti, Leipzig, 1913, Taf. p. 121,132.

5Harpur and Scremin, Kagemni, figs. 13–16.

6Paget RFE, Pirie AA. The Tomb of Ptahhetep. In: Quibell  JE, editor. London: The Ramesseum; 1898. p. 25–36, pl. xxxi, xxxii.

7Murray M. Saqqara Mastabas I. London; 1905. pl. ix.

8LD. II, 46.

9Moussa A,  Altenmüller H. Das Grab des Nianchchnum und Chnumhotep. Mainz/Rhein: 1977. Taf. 87, 88.

10Harpur and Paolo, Kagemni, fig. 17.

11Harpur Y. Decoration in Egyptian Tombs of the Old Kingdom. Oxford; 1987. p. 140.

12For these themes see; Oxford Expedition to Egypt (OEE) Database, <> OEE. Themes.

13For these activities see; OEE. Themes and Scenes 1.

14OEE. Themes and Scenes 1.1.

15Kanawati N. The Teti cemetery at Saqqara. Vol VIII, The Tomb of Inumin, Oxford. 2006. p. 30–32, 35–37, pls. 5–7, 12,44,46.   

16Kanawati N. The Teti cemetery at Saqqara. Vol IX, The Tomb of Remni, Oxford. 2009. p. 24–29, pls. 45–47.   

17OEE. Themes and Scenes. 1.1.

18PM III2, 70; Roth AM. Giza Mastabas. Vol 6, A cemetery of Palace attendants. Boston; 1995. p. 111, pls. 73,185.

19PM III2, 298–299; Schürmann W. Die Reliefs aus dem Grab des Pyramidenvorstehers Ii-nefert, Karlsruhe; 1983. p. 31–32, Abbs. 6, 21.

20Kanawati N, Abder-Raziq M. The Teti Cemetery at Saqqara. Vol VI, The Tomb of Nikauisesi, Warminster; 2000. p. 39–41, pls. 18–20, 50.                         

21Myśliwiec K, et al. Saqqara I, The Tomb of Merefnebef, Text. Warszawa; 2004. p. 122–134, pls. xxi, lxiii–lxv.

22PM IV1, 134–135; LD II, 106[a]; Varille A. La Tombe de Ni-Ankh-Pepi à Zâouyet el-Mayetîn. Cairo; 1938. 12, figure 4.

23PM IV1, 242; Davies N, de G. The Rock Tombs of Deir el-Gabrâwi II, London; 1902. 29, pl. xxiii; Kanawati N, Deir El-Gebrawi I, Oxford; 2005. 68–71, pls. 24,54,55.

24Roth, Palace Attendants, 36.

25Harpur, Decoration, 280.

26In this scene of fishing and fowling in general, the deceased is shown wearing three main types of kilt: the short kilt with a diagonal ford in the time of Niuserre to Djedkare; a short kilt and a trapezoidal apron with straight lateral edges widening towards its lower end and almost triangular in shape in the reign of Djedkare and up to the end of the 5th Dynasty; a short kilt with a triangular apron from the beginning of the 6th Dynasty (Zelenková, ‘The Royal Kilt in non-Royal Iconography? The Tomb Owner Fowling and Spear-Fishing in the Old and Middle Kingdom. BACE. 2010;21:142–145, figs. 2.1–2.6). In Ptahshepses’ scene, the bottom parts of the kilts are damaged, but he is likely to be wearing the third kind of kilt, as his sons do. So this scene was probably designed during the Sixth Dynasty, as are most of the other scenes of Ptahshepses’ tomb and not in the Fifth Dynasty (Soleiman and El-Batal, Ptahshepses, I, 83.

27Kanawati and Abder-Raziq, Nikauisesi. p. 17–25.                   

28Mycliwiec, et al. Merefnebef, 53:246–250.

29Kanawati, Deir El-Gebrawi, I, 63.

30Cherpion, Mastabas, 233.

31Baer K. Rank and Title in the Old Kingdom. Chicago: 1960. p. 288.

32PM. III2, 298–299.

33OEE. Scenes-details Database: Tombs 8/25.

34Simpson WK. Giza Mastabas vol 3. The Mastabas of Kawab, Khafkhufu I and II. Boston; 1978. p. 24, pl. xxxvii, fig. 47.

35Broverski E, Giza Mastabas. VII, The Senedjemib Complex, I, Boston. 2000. p. 38–40, figs. 24–27.

36Junker H. Gîza IV. Abb. 8.

37Simpson WK, Giza Mastabas. Vol 2, The Mastabas of Qar and Idu, Boston; 1976. figs. 15,16,19.

38Moussa and Altenmüller, Nianchchnum. Taf. 4,5,74,75, Abbs. 5,6.

39Mohr HT. The Mastaba of Hetep-Her-Akhti. Leiden; 1943. fig. 34.

40LD. II, 60.

41Moussa A, Junge F. Two Tombs of Craftsmen, Mainz/ Rhein. 1975. pl. 6.

42Kanawati N, Mcfarlane A, Deshasha. The tombs of Inti, Shedu and others. Sydney; 1993. 48,51–52, pls. 44, 48.

43El-khouli A, Kanawati N, Quseir El-Amarna. The Tombs of Pepy-ankh and Khewen-wekh, Sydney. 1989. p. 46–47, pls. 37–38.

44Davies N, de G. The Rock Tombs of Deir El-Gebrâwi. London; 1902. vol. I, pls. iii, v, vol. II, pls. iii–v, xxiii, xxviii.

45Blackman MA. The Rock Tombs of Meir, IV, London. 1924. pls. vii, xvii, vol. V, London; 1953. pls. xxiv, xxviii.

46Kanawati N. The Rock Tombs of El-Hawawish, The Cemetery of Akhmim. Sydney. vol. I, 1980. 19–20, pl. 5, fig. 8, vol. II, 1981, 19–21, pl. 1, fig. 18, vol. V, 1985, 18, pls. 1, 3, figs. 6, 7, vol. IX, 31, fig. 15.

47Peck CN. Some Decorated Tombs of the First Intermediate Period at Naga ed-Dêr, Ann Arbor/Michigan. 1959. p. 17–30, pl. xv.

48Kanawati N. The Tombs of El-Hagarsa III. Sydney; 1995. p. 38. pls. 14,15,52,44–45.

49De Morgan J. Catalogue des monuments et inscriptions de l’Égypte Antique, I. Vienna; 1894. figs. on p. 146,159,161.


  1. The scene of the tomb owner fishing or fowling and wearing the necklace with the amulet is very rare. There are eight scenes in seven tombs.
  2. It appears in the Memphis necropolis (Giza and Saqqara) and provinces (Zawet el-Maiyetin and Dier el-Gebrawi).
  3. It is dated from the reign of Isesi to the reign of Pepy I.
  4. It is usually found once (six examples), and rarely twice (one example) in the same tomb.
  5. It is always combined with a collar.
  6. The figure of the deceased wearing the necklace and the amulet appears more often when he is fowling than when he is fishing.





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