c. 2311–2281 BC
Overall: 98.7 x 80.6 cm (38 7/8 x 31 3/4 in.)
Gift of the John Huntington Art and Polytechnic Trust 1930.735
Nyankhnesut was a high official who lived during Dynasty 6 (2311-2281 BC). Reliefs from his tomb appeared on the art market in the early 20th century and are now dispersed in 15 museums and several private collections worldwide. Although the style of the carving indicates that the reliefs came from Saqqara, the tomb’s exact location in that great necropolis was not revealed until 2000 during excavations by the Egyptian government. The scenes center on food production and the provisioning of the tomb. As the tomb owner looks on, men bring in trays bearing bread and baskets of fruit. Others bring live poultry or lead in animals, both wild (antelope) and domesticated (oxen) for sacrifice. The largest, most important relief depicts agricultural scenes. The farmer’s activities are labeled: "sowing" and "plowing" in the upper register, "pulling flax" below. In the center, a man plays the flute to entertain the harvesters. Directly below him, a man stretches out his arms, holding a sickle and an ear of grain, exclaiming, "What a beautiful day." Detailed and lively scenes such as these magically ensured an everlasting supply of food for the deceased.
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