Tomb of Princess Idut
Idut lived during the end of the Fifth Dynasty into the beginning of
the Sixth Dynasty, and died around 2360 BC. She was interred in her
”mastaba,” or mortuary chapel, near at the tomb of King Unas, in th
The south-facing entrance to the tomb is flanked by remains of
standard representations of the tomb-owner. Turning left into the first
chamber, this too shows the conventional Old Kingdom depictions of men
in boats fishing with dip-nets and on the end wall scribes tallying
estate accounts with the village headmen and defaulters. In the doorway
to the next chamber there is a relief of a statue of the princess being
dragged on a sled to the tomb, with one man pouring water before the
sled, either to purify the ground or to lubricate it. In the register
above, offering-bringers march towards the tomb.
community of Saqqara. Her tomb is
famous for its realistic depictions of
everyday life in ancient Egypt. I took the attached photo of the
entrance to Idut’s tomb in December 1989.
Princess Idut came to acquire such an elaborate mastaba is somewhat of a
mystery. Its original owner, Ihy, who had been a vizier, or prime
minister, of King Unas, had spent years preparing this lavishly
decorated tomb for his own burial place. One story is that Ihy opposed
Teti’s becoming king, and that Teti punished him by allocating Ihy’s
mastaba to Princess Idut.
The wall opposite is dedicated to funerary scenes and the remaining registers of reliefs show the princess’s coffin being dragged in its shrine to the tomb, accompanied by a lector priest and ‘mww’ dancers. The northern wall once again shows scribes rendering accounts of the princess’s estates. She made many changes to the original decoration of the reliefs in the tomb-chapel which can be seen primarily in this chamber.
A short passage leads off to the right and into another two chambers portraying the consecration and presentation of offerings, with some men bringing calves to be sacrificed for the princess while other men can be seen jousting in papyrus boats.
Idut can be seen in the doorway to the next chamber, a lotus blossom to her nose with another woman standing behind her. There are more offerings portrayed here too and the scenes of butchers with sharp knives about to hack the limbs off cattle are especially realistic and quite gruesome.
Idut’s tomb has a serdab chamber on the northern side, which is completely isolated from the rest of the tomb-chapel. Her burial chamber in the shaft on the eastern side of the tomb contained painted decoration of offering lists and offerings. The princess also usurped her sarcophagus from Ihy, the original tomb-owner.
The mastaba of Idut was first discovered by Cecil Firth in 1927 and has since been investigated by Jean-Philippe Lauer.