Relief of a Funerary Ceremony



Relief of a Funerary Ceremony




2305-2152 BC


Old Kingdom, Dynasty 6


Limestone, pigment
Maximum: 9 1/2 x 18 x 1 3/8 in. (24.1 x 45.7 x 3.5 cm)

Object Number



The elaborate preparations the ancient Egyptians made for the afterlife prompted one scholar to call them a "mausoleum culture". The massive pyramids of the Old Kingdom were designed to serve as monuments for the reigning king. They were built on the edge of the desert opposite the capital at Memphis and were often surrounded by the tombs of the members of the king's court and family.

These types of burials were known as mastaba tombs, after the Arabic word for a mud bench, which they resembled. The tombs would be decorated with beautifully carved reliefs usually depicting offerings and rituals for the deceased. The scene here represents part of the burial ceremony. The three figures on the relief would have been facing an image of the tomb owner. The middle figure is identified by the hieroglyphic caption as the temple scribe, who is shown raising the lid on an incense burner. Behind him is the larger figure of the officiating priest, who is reading the funerary ritual from an unrolled papyrus scroll. He is identified as "the Sole Companion, the Lector Priest, Tety". The rest of the name is lost, but it was a compound with that of the name of the first king of the Sixth Dynasty, Tety. That, along with the style of the relief, helps us date this piece to the last great flowering of Egyptian art at the close of the Old Kingdom.

Credit Line

Gift of the Forward Arts Foundation


MCCM Permanent Collection Reinstallation, 2008 - August 10, 2011|
Life and Death in the Pyramid Age: The Emory Old Kingdom Mummy, Michael C. Carlos Museum, September 10 - December 11, 2011|
MCCM Permanent Collection Reinstallation, February 2012 - Present
Michael C. Carlos Museum: Highlights of the Collections (Atlanta: Michael C. Carlos Museum, 2011), 15.|
Peter Lacovara, "Life and Death in the Pyramid Age," Minerva 22 (September/October 2011): 12-13.


© Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Bruce M. White, 2008.
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On View



“Relief of a Funerary Ceremony,” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed February 19, 2019,

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