The wooden panels of the mastaba of Hesire in Saqqara

http://Imago Images
One of six panels from the mastaba of Hesire, a high official of King Zoser who was Chief of Dentists and Physicians as well as holding other titles. He carries the tools of a scribe over his shoulder. Country of Origin: Egypt Culture: Ancient Egyptian. Date/Period: 3rd dynasty c. 2700 – 2600 BC. Place of Origin: Saqqara. Material Size: Wood 115cms high. PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxHUNxONLY Copyright: WernerxForman 951_05_55401375 One of Six Panels from The Mastaba of Hesire a High Official of King Zoser Who what Chief of dentists and Physicians As Well As Holding Other titles he carries The Tools of a Scribe Over His Shoulder Country of ORIGIN Egypt Culture Ancient Egyptian Date Period 3rd Dynasty C 2700 2600 BC Place of ORIGIN Saqqara Material Size Wood High PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxHUNxONLY Copyright WernerxForman 951_05_55401375

This time, we have a special fund in magic Egypt. The Stele on woods! ( decorated Lebanese cedar panels) which, Hesy-re lets to be imported and worked in such quantity.

The Mastaba of Hesy-re is an ancient Egyptian tomb complex in the great necropolis of Saqqara in Egypt. It is the final resting place of the high official Hesy-re, who served in office during the Third Dynasty under King Djoser (Netjerikhet). His large mastaba is renowned for its well-preserved wall paintings and relief panels made from imported Lebanese cedar, which are today considered masterpieces of Old Kingdom wood carving. The mastaba itself is the earliest example of a painted tomb from the Old Kingdom and the only known example from the Third Dynasty. The tomb was excavated by the Egyptologists Auguste Mariette http://Auguste Mariette and James Edward Quibell http://James Edward Quibell..

What we have here are six beautiful worked panels of woods. Now let’s read the brilliant description by Marie Grillot, http://Marie Grillot about this fascinating fund. With heartfelt thanks. 🙏💖 via

The wooden panels from the mastaba of Hésiré discovered in 1860 by Auguste Mariette in Saqqarah
were exhibited at the Boulaq Museum (ref .: 1037 – 1038 – 1039)
Photograph by MM. Delié and Béchard, taken from the Album of the Musée de Boulaq

In 1859, Auguste Mariette returned to Cairo where he was “confirmed at the head of historical monuments and the museum”. His projects are numerous and the sites he is opening in the Delta, in Thebes or Saqqarah, are up to his ambitions. They will bring some very beautiful discoveries.
In particular, in 1860, he discovered, in Saqqarah, in the mastaba C8, the statue of Ka-Aper (Kaaper), the very famous Sheikh el-Beled!

The same year, north of the pyramidal complex of Pharaoh Djoser – where 140 mastabas will be unearthed – will be discovered that of Hésiré (Hosi, Hésyra, Hésy-Rê, Hézirê).

Necropolis of Saqqara – Plan taken from “The Mastabas of the Old Empire”, Auguste Mariette, Paris, 1889

In “The Mastabas of the Old Empire”, Auguste Mariette and Gaston Maspero recall that the mastabas generally consist of: “five parts which are the exterior of the tomb, the interior itself, the serdab, the well, the vault underground”. In this book, the pages devoted specifically to the mastaba of Hesiré – referenced A3 – contain only drawings. No details are given on the exact circumstances of the discovery.

The scribe Hésiré represented on one of the panels of his mastaba discovered in 1860 by Auguste Mariette in Saqqarah
Third Dynasty – 2649-2575 BC. J.-C.
Cairo Museum – JE 28504 = CG 1426 – CG 1427 – CG 1428

Hesire’s eternal home is dated to the Third Dynasty, around 2700 BC. In its original state, the mastaba was 43 m long, 22 m wide and 5 m high. It was made of hardened mud bricks. The inner and outer walls were completely covered with limestone in white. The structure of the inner chamber consisted of a long corridor and several rooms and chapels. “

Eleven niches are hollowed out in the west wall: they are decorated with magnificent wooden panels, rectangular, more than a meter high and 40 cm wide. They are sculpted with incomparable precision, finesse and art. These panels were to play: “the role of false doors which represent the deceased in the Hereafter, awaiting his offerings”. They were fixed: “by wedges driven into the upper part of the panels”.

The wooden panels of the mastaba of Hesire discovered in 1860 by Auguste Mariette in Saqqarah
Third Dynasty – 2649-2575 BC. J.-C.
Cairo Museum – JE 28504 = CG 1426 – CG 1427 – CG 1428

In “Egyptian Art in the Age of the Pyramids”, it is specified that: “the first five were found by Mariette and transported to the museum in 1866”.

Two other wooden panels by Hésiré presented in “Excavations at Saqqara” (1911-1912).
The Tomb of Hesy, JE Quibell, Cairo, 1913

A sixth was discovered 45 years later by James Edward Quibell who resumed excavations of the mastaba in 1911-1912. As for the other five, only fragments remained: “which unfortunately he will not take the trouble to save”.

A wooden panel in position, from a pencil drawing by FH Darke
“Excavations at Saqqara (1911-1912). The Tomb of Hesy”, JE Quibell, Cairo, 1913

Under the numbers 1037 – 1038 – 1039, three of these panels are presented by Gaston Maspero in the “Visitor’s Guide to the Boulaq Museum”: “These three panels were embedded in as many stelae in the form of a false door. A fourth panel, more mutilated than the others, is exposed (n ° 913) on the kind of shelf which reigns at the back of the room (!). The scribe Hosi, seated or standing, is the only person represented. He has a rough face. , the features accentuated by age: the hieroglyphics carved above his head give us his name and his titles … Inscriptions and figures are cut with extraordinary hand surety: the artist who executed this work did not give it up. nothing to the one who carved the Sheik el-Beled. “

The wooden panels of the mastaba of Hesire discovered in 1860 by Auguste Mariette in Saqqarah
Third Dynasty – 2649-2575 BC. J.-C.
Boulaq Museum (ref .: 1037 – 1038 – 1039) then Cairo Museum – JE 28504 = CG 1426 – CG 1427 – CG 1428

The panels presented to Boulaq must correspond to those recorded in the Journal of Entries of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo JE 28504, and in the General Catalog CG 1426 – CG 1427 – 1428.

Hesire is represented standing, seated, in various postures, with different wigs or outfits. The panels seem to tell, “in the comic strip”, so many important moments of his life, haloed with the glory of his attributions. The stiffness of the attitude makes one feel with more force the importance of his rank and the solemnity of his functions.

During the Universal Exhibition of 1878, inaugurated on May 1 in Paris, Auguste Mariette will choose to exhibit the three panels. They then constituted the oldest pieces illustrating the pharaonic antiquities presented at the Trocadero Palace.

In the catalogue he will write for this event, “Exposition Universelle de Paris, 1878. The Gallery of Ancient Egypt at the Trocadero retrospective exhibition, brief description, by Auguste Mariette-Bey …”, he will explain about admirably, and with a beautiful sensitivity, the reasons for his choice underlining the exceptional character of the work. “Compared to the style of other monuments of the Old Kingdom, the style of the panels in Egyptian art in fact takes the place of what is called elsewhere the archaic style. The finesse of the engraving, the unusual grouping of hieroglyphics and the rare forms of several of them, the hitherto unique arrangement of the utensils that the character carries in his hands, are in fact distinctive features which show us in the three panels extraordinarily ancient monuments. especially the character of the head, whose bony cheeks and strongly aquiline nose have absolutely nothing that recalls the full face, the round nose, the thick and smiling lips of the other statues of the old Empire. “

On January 25, 2021, the Ministry of Antiquities announced that: “within the general framework of the ‘Launch of the restoration project of the wooden panels of the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir’, under the title ‘Towards new horizons to assess the situation, the restoration and reappearance at the museum ‘, the Egyptian museum launched the restoration project of the wooden panels of Hassi Ra, exhibited on the ground floor of the museum, in cooperation with the French Institute of Oriental Archeology (IFAO). The second phase of the project will consist of the study of their “new exhibition” at the museum, their “reinstallation” having to recall the context of their “original” presentation in the Mastaba …

Marie Grillot

The Mastabas of the Old Empire , Paris, 1889, Mariette Auguste, Maspero, Gaston
Universal Exhibition of Paris, 1878. The Gallery of Ancient Egypt at the Trocadéro retrospective exhibition, brief description, by Auguste Mariette-Bey…
Visitor’s guide to the Boulaq museum (1883 edition), Gaston Maspero
Egyptian Art in the Age of the Pyramids, Meeting of National Museums, 1999
Treasures of Egypt – The Wonders of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Francesco Tiradritti
The treasures of ancient Egypt at the Cairo museum, National Geographic
Official catalog – Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Mohamed Saleh, Hourig Sourouzian, Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 1987
The Egyptian Museum in Cairo , Abeer El-Shahawy, Matḥaf al-Miṣrī
Excavations at Saqqara (1911-1912). The Tomb of Hesy , JE Quibell, Cairo, 1913
“ Hesyrê’s tomb at Saqqara (A3) ”
“ Saqqarah ” (The Balance of 2 Earths)
PL. XXIX and following
Album of the Boulaq museum: comprising forty plates / photographed by MM. Delié and Béchard; with an explanatory text by Auguste Mariette-Bey

9 thoughts on “The wooden panels of the mastaba of Hesire in Saqqara

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    I’m so glad the panels are being restored. I love the powerful faces of the men and those athletic bodies and strong noble noses. Thanks for sharing these masterpieces with your readers.

    Liked by 1 person

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