Imagined Egyptian Funerary Arrangements

October 5, 2013 at 10:18 pm (Art History)

Imagined tomb of Bastetmeses I

Imagined tomb of Bastetmeses I

As Queen Bastetmeses I (to be born of Bastet) of the Middle Kingdom, I was enshrined in a rock-cut tomb in the cliffs of Beni Hasan, Lower Egypt.  Overall, my tomb most resembled that of my close neighbor Amenemhet, but mine was considerably more lavish (Kleiner 52).  The tomb’s decorative porch and entrance hall featured a total of 33 fluted columns carved from “live rock.”  The modest hall displayed simple, repetitive reliefs of god/dess images, but the chamber containing my mummified remains was superbly decorated.  The painted mural behind my jeweled sarcophagus depicted the jackal-god Anubis weighing my pure heart against the feather of Maat and finding the latter to be of a much greater weight.  A mural with similar subject matter was placed in the tomb of Hu-Nefer during the Post-Amarna period of the New Kingdom (62).  The other walls of my royal burial chamber were covered with low reliefs illustrating my many accomplishments and majestic characteristics.  Within them, my form was represented in composite view and superhuman size, while my subjects were naturalistically portrayed.  These reliefs are reminiscent of the scenes found in the tomb of the lowly official Ti of Saqqara (ca. 2450-2350); however my royal deeds were much more remarkable (50). Recesses within the reliefs held statues of my likeness meant to house my ka, in the event that my body was damaged.

That scenario was, of course, unlikely as my corpse was mummified with the greatest of care.  My embalming incision was sealed with the wedjat of Horus and my tight bandages were lined with hundreds of multi-colored scarabs.  Lastly, a scroll inscribed with the Book of the Dead was ceremoniously laid between my feet and the sarcophagus was sealed.  The luxurious burial chamber was lined with ushabtis, who attended to my every whim and jeweled chests overflowed with gowns, linens, coins and foodstuffs.  A large desk was piled high with important papyrus scrolls and ink for recording my triumphs in the afterlife.  An extravagant lounge, laden with pillows occupied a large corner of the room and most importantly, the chamber was guarded by 33 stone cats.  Bastet and her children forbade access to my inner sanctuary until 1923, when its discovery overshadowed that of the boy-king Tutankhamen (61).  Bastet in her wisdom hid the entrance with fallen rock until this time.  Today I am worshipped by all that behold my splendor in National Smithsonian of the United States of America.


Kleiner, Fred S.  Gardner’s Art Through the Ages.  Boston: Wadsworth, 2010.  Print.


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