avoid Friday, Sunday (crowded)
can also be reached by camel for E£150 (3 hours)
Mastaba of Meruruka
Unlike the fragments of reliefs that are behind glass and artfully list at the art museums at home, these are very real and immediate and it is overwhelming to realize that someone sat here, in this room, and carved these figures into the stone.
There are a number of mastabas here, although you'd never know it. Near the entrance, teams of laborers are excavating another tomb. The signs are in arabic, but it's made pretty clear that we aren't supposed to take direct photos of the excavation. Most of the men are digging with shovels and carrying the sand away in woven baskets they carry on their heads or on a pole of their shoulders.
The reliefs inside are amazing --even after seeing everything else during the trip, I think that this was the best introduction to Egyptian art that we could have had. It is one of the largest matabas of the Old Kingdom, with rooms for Merurka, his wife, and son.
At one end of the tomb, there is a false door -- mastabas usually have a false door, to provide a "virtual exit" for the person's spirit. A statue of Mereruka is striding from the door and we went around outside to see that the illusion was complete -- the door is carved from the outside as well, and covered in hieroglyphics on both sides.
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