Penmeru ‘Director of the Dinning Hall.’ was interred in a curious mastaba – curious, in part because of the multiple pseudo-groups of Penmeru that were contained therein. The dig that resulted in the discovery of these statues within the mastaba of Penmeru was led by George Reisner and his team in 1912, on behalf of the The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston :
A Belgian Egyptologist in the 1920s coined the term “pseudo-group” to describe such sculptures in which the same person was depicted two or more times. Different interpretations have been advanced since then to explain the meaning of pseudo-group statues. Do they reflect the dual nature of Upper and Lower Egypt? Are they representations of a man and his ka? Do they show the same man at different stages of his life? It is clear that by Dynasty 5, ever-increasing numbers of statues were included in tombs. (One tomb owner had up to fifty representations of himself.) Pseudo-group sculptures may reflect that trend. Penmeru’s tomb contained three pseudo-group statues, bringing the total of his depictions to seven. The present example is the only one in which additional family members are shown. The figures are placed inside a frame that mimics the architecture of a door. It is speckled in imitation of granite, a costlier stone than the limestone from which it is actually made. was carved into limestone in Gaza around 2465 BC. Source – Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
The discovery of the pseudo-groups in Penmeru’s mastaba is described in George Reisner’s log book; relevant pages of his log book are given below together with photos –
Wednesday, April 10, 1912 (continued) [G 2196] Diary Transcription: mastaba (G 2197). Ordered this cleared. At sunset came on the roof of a chamber apparently a serdab in the eastern part of G 2197. Filled with sand from hole in east wall.
Thursday, April 11, 1912 The night was very bad on account of a fierce warm south wind. I slept none at all between one and four and finally got to sleep inside the house. Breakfast was late and my head felt heavy when a boy came up to say that the roof found last night was clear and I was wanted at once. I said in a quarter of an hour and set to work to clear off morning mail, orders, etc. Before I had finished a second messenger arrived to say the chamber contained six large figures (statues). I hurried down and found a serdab with broken roof filled with sand. The sand had been cleared from the heads of six figures which belonged to two triads [MFA 12.1484, MFA 12.1504]
Diary Transcription: microfilm: begin page 93 Thursday, April 11, 1912 (continued) [G 2197 (continued)] [MFA 12.1484 (continued)] with the figures in the niche and an inscription on top and sides (name [GLYPHS] Penmeru). The northern triad [MFA 12.1504] is one piece but the figures are unattached behind. The head of the figure six is gone. Cleared the roof and photographed it. About 5 p.m. the plates were reported good and I had the slabs lifted up and turned over to the west. About 5:45 the sand was out of the chamber but the head of No. 6 was not found. The sand was put in a place by itself for sifting. On the north in front of fig. 6 was a small pair statuette of two men [JE 43753], also of painted limestone. The niche triad [MFA 12.1484] has two small figures one [Seshemnefer] between Nos. 1 [Penmeru] and 2 [Penmeru] and one [Neferseshemes] between Nos. 2 [Penmeru] and 3 [Meretites].
The niche triad was intended for the niche of an offering chamber. The other triad [MFA 12.1504] seems also to have been intended to be built into a wall. In other words we seem to have here the traces of an ancient family catastrophe. A great tomb was planned with beautifully inscribed walls and statue filled niches. The plan was never carried out and the statue filled niches were used to fill the serdab. The offering chamber itself is smaller than the serdab. On the south side of the entrance to the offering microfilm: end page 93 Diary Transcription: microfilm: begin page 94 Thursday, April 11, 1912 (continued) [G 2197 (continued)] chamber is an unusual inscription part of an ancient decree or contract [GLYPHS] endowing the foundation by which Penmeru,apparently a descendant of Neferhotep [Neferhetep], claimed the funerary priesthood of Seshemnefer [Seshemnefer]. Seshemnefer is the name of the owner of mastaba G 2200 [= G 5080] and of the original of the granite head. Friday, April 12, 1912 All hands clearing G 2196, G 2197 and to the north and east. The serdab was photographed. microfilm: end page 94 End of Diary Transcription Diary Transcription: microfilm: begin page 95 Friday, April 12, 1912 (continued) The chamber of G 2196 was cleared and a burial pit was found in the north west corner. This had been plundered and the chamber was open. The following part is by Mr. Fisher: Saturday, April 13, 1912 Dr. Reisner left for Girga at 6 p.m. In the morning the two triads [MFA 12.1484, MFA 12.1504] in the serdab of G 2197 were photographed in situ and then the wall behind them, i.e. west, was taken down, as in no other way could they have been moved. In the afternoon the statues were removed to the house without mishap, although the two pieces were of great weight and awkward size. Heavy wooden stretchers were placed behind them and each triad in turn was inclined backward upon it, and then lifted out of the serdab upon it and carried to house.
Sunday, April 14, 1912 The force left at Pyramid site has been rearranged in five gangs which were placed by lot in the streets between the mastabas in Schiaparelli’s concession, where work had already begun at start of season. To facilitate work I laid out a double line of track with switches, with a third single line to street further west. Also ordered two new switches from Koppel. Monday, April 15, 1912 Several of the foremen were kept busy laying new track so that work could go ahead early Tuesday morning. Mrs. Firth is to start work drawing the wall paintings in the “little statue chamber” [G 2184] and I procured for her some materials. microfilm: end page 95 End of Diary Transcription
Throughout Egyptian civilization, artists developed new types of statuary to address the constantly changing needs of tomb and temple. Some types found wholesale acceptance and entered the general repertoire; others flourished briefly but were subsequently abandoned. The latter is the case with the statue type shown here; it is known only from Dynasties 5 and 6. Three adults and two children emerge from inside a rectangular frame. The two on the viewer’s left are clearly male and differ from each other only in their garments. They do not interact in any way. The rest of the figures form a unit, apparently a family group. A woman on the viewer’s right, slightly shorter than the two men, rests her hand on the shoulder of the man in the center, while two diminutive children, a boy on the left and girl on the right, touch his leg. One would expect the figure on the far left to be unrelated to the others. The inscription, however, tells a different story… Source – Pseudo-group statue of Penmeru Wednesday, April 24, 1912 Spent the day in the photography of the triads [from G 2197] [MFA 12.1484, MFA 12.1504] and in getting them under cover in the store room. The false door triad is the heavier. The door is only 80 cm wide. A track of wooden beams was laid … from the triad to the inner corner of the store room. A wooden platform was made the length of the triad and just wide enough to pass through the door.
With great difficulty the triad was got on its side edge on the platform, the iron rollers were slipped under the platform and the platform with triad was rolled carefully into the room. The platform was supported on stones, the rollers and beams were withdrawn and the triad was leaned against the wall, face out. The statue triad was moved in a similar manner but standing upright on its base.
One of the pseudo-groups of Penmeru. Inscriptions on the large triad –
Top: A gift which the king gives to Anubis foremost of the divine booth, one well provided before his lord who performs what his lord desires Pen-Meru Drum: the royal acquaintance director of the dining pavilion, one well provided before his lord who performs what his lord desires, Pen-Meru Left column: the inspector of ka-priests, well provided before the god, possessor of a burial in the western desert, royal acquaintance, controller of the dining pavilion, Pen-Meru Right Column: may an invocation offering come forth for him on the Wag festival (important annual Egyptian festival), the Thoth festival, the first of the month festival, the first half-month festival, the every day festival for the director of the dinning pavilion Pen-Meru and his wife, the meiter, Meretites. Base: Pen-Meru; his son Seshem-Nofer; Pen-Meru; his daughter Nefer-Seshem Source – MFA, Boston
‘Director [or Controller] of the Dining Pavilion‘ – appears to be the major administrative tile of Penmeru. Another burial in which this title appears is that of Meresankh III – Grand-daughter of Kheops (aka. Khufu, about 2600-2555 BC):
Grand-daughter of Kheops (aka. Khufu, about 2600-2555 BC), wife of Khephren (aka. Khafre, about 2548-2522), the queen’s burial illustrates the importance of the royal sons and daughters in Egypt of the IVth Dynasty, a period at the peak of the Old Kingdom, which saw the craftsmanship of sculpture and painting reaching an extreme sophistication.
Source- Meresankh III , Giza
Register 1 (top) From the tomb of Meresankh – not easily read –
In total the register includes nine men, all facing Meresankh. At the left, two men advance towards her, holding poultry in their hands. The title of the first [man] is partially preserved: “[Director of] the dining pavilion, the funerary priest […]”. The following five men, all musicians, although one is a chanter, squat on the ground with their right knee raised. The first two are playing the harp. The next two are flutists, the first of whom plays a long flute which he holds diagonally across him, held at the lower end with both hands and blowing into the other end. The one behind him plays a short flute. The last of the five is a chanter, who holds his left hand to his ear as he creates an accompanying song. Finally, at the right-hand end of the register, and with no accompanying descriptive text, advances a man who holds a small calf in his arms, and a second man who carries a chest on his shoulder supported by his right hand. The head of the last man is partially destroyed.
Source – Osirisnet, Mastaba of Meresankh
To be continued –