Artist: Old Kingdom, Dynasty 5–6, ca. 2375–2287 B.C.
Title: Tomb Lintel of Ihii

Gift of Jack F. Chrysler, in memory of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.

Looking Questions

Do you see any repeated symbols?  Where?

What do you notice about the three figures to the left?

What do you notice is happening on the left side?

About the Art

Divided into two parts, the carved limestone relief depicts figures from the wealthy Metjetji family on the left side. Ihii and his wife Inti are seated across a table from their young son. The son is presenting his recently deceased father, Ihii, with gifts for the afterworld. The offerings include fowl, bread, beer, cloth and cosmetics.  These items were meant to make the afterlife comfortable, and were offered in increments of 1,000, or “great amounts of.” The right side of the lintel, an architectural beam or support from the tomb, is a series of inscriptions, read from right to left. The first two horizontal lines of hieroglyphs are offerings to the gods Anubis and Osiris. The third line provides information about Ihii. It is important to note that although Ihii’s title is “carpenter”, he was not an actual carpenter.  Rather, he was the overseer of the king’s buildings.

From Everyday to Afterlife

As inscribed on the lintel, Ihii’s son offered food and drink to his father for his afterlife. One of the chief items in the ancient Egyptian diet was bread. Commonly made from barley and wheat, the bread was baked after it was shaped into a cone. Ihii’s son also presented fowl, which could have been goose, pigeon or crane. The wealthy family may have also dined on fish from the Nile, beef or pork, or eaten fruit that grew in ancient Egypt, such as figs, plums, dates and grapes. To drink, early Egyptians drank beer and wine, although only the nobility would have wine regularly.

Carpenter of (the town of) Nekhen, Carpenter of the king of Lower Egypt, honored before the great god, inspector of the tenant farmers of the Palace, privy to the secret of all construction works.

Vertically, another inscription provides the name and title for the deceased:
Carpenter of (the town of) Nekhen, Carpenter of the king of Lower Egypt, Ihii.