Statue of Ptahshepses as a Scribe

Ptahshepses in this statue is portrayed as a scribe sitting on the ground with his legs crossed. He has a partly unrolled papyrus on his knees, a common “reading scribe” posture in Ancient Egypt. A heart-shaped amulet hangs around his neck with a counterpoise at the back.

The head of Ptahshepses is inclined gently toward the unrolled papyrus on his lap to read the text facing him. The inscription on the base of the statue gives the name and titles of Ptahshepses as “The Honoured One, the priest Ptahshepses.” The papyrus on his lap contains two lines of inscription written in black.

Statue of Ptahshepses as a Scribe
Statue of Ptahshepses as a Scribe

Ptahshepses was the vizier and son-in-law of the 5th Dynasty king Nyuserre Ini. As such he was one of the most distinguished members of the royal court. Ptahshepses’ mastaba complex in Abusir is considered by many to be the most extensive and architecturally unique non-royal tomb of the Old Kingdom.

Ptahshepses married King Niuserre’s daughter, Khamerernebty. Their five children are mentioned in the tomb: sons Ptahshepses, Kahotep, Qednes and Hemakhti, and daughter Meritites, who had the title “King’s Daughter”, even though being only the granddaughter of a king.

The princess’s sarcophagus logistically could not have been moved into the burial chamber of Ptashepses’s mastaba by the narrow descending passage. Ludwig Borchardt discovered Khamerernebty’s own mastaba near Niuserre’s pyramid complex.

Therefore, the princess’s sarcophagus must have been placed in Ptahshepses’s burial chamber when the mastaba was being built. Additionally, the princess’s name is found recorded by the builders on the blocks used to construct the core of the mastaba.

This enables Egyptologists to date the beginning of the construction of Ptahshepses‘ mastaba from before the tenth regnal year until the thirtieth regnal year of king Niuserre.

Old Kingdom, 5th Dynasty, ca. 2494-2345 BC. Painted limestone, from Saqqara necropolis. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. CG 83

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