Senedjemib’s complex
At the northwest corner of the Great Pyramid, on the eastern edge of the Western Field at Giza, stands the complex of mastabas of the Senedjemib family which contains the well-known tombs of Senedjemib Inti (G2370) and his son Senedjemib Mehi (G2378), who served kings Izezi and Unis respectively as viziers and chief architects. In 1842 to 1843 Lepsius excavated these two tombs, made plans, and copied their reliefs and inscriptions.

During the spring of 1850, the Reverend Johann Rudolph Theophilius Lieder re-excavated the two tombs
and, together with his wife Alice, made a number of squeezes of the reliefs which are now the property of the Griffith Institute, Oxford.
Seven months later, Mariette made plans of the tombs and copied certain of their inscriptions.
About 1901, Reisner heard that the villagers of Kafr el-Haram at the foot of the pyramids had conducted
illicit excavations at the place and removed some stones. In the intervening years, sand had drifted over the site and, when Reisner began work in October 1912, all that was visible of the Senedjemib Complex was a double mound rising above the surrounding debris.

Reisner cleared the site between October 25, 1912 and January 27, 1913 and discovered that the two tombs of Inti and Mehi were only part of a great complex of tombs erected around a stone paved court approached by a sloping ramp leading up to the west from the pyramid plateau. Between Inti’s and Mehi’s tombs, Reisner uncovered a third tomb, that of Khnumenti (G2374), another son of Senedjemib Inti, who appears to have carried on his father’s duties under Teti.

Two other large mastabas opened on the paved court of the complex, but both had been destroyed nearly to their foundations. One of these was the tomb of Mer-ptah-ankh-meryre Nekhebu (G2381). The owner of the second (G2385) was never identified.
There were also at least five smaller offering rooms connected with the group (G2383, G2384, G2386a and b, G2390). Thus, all told, there were ten separate chapels set up on the pavement of the court.
In addition, opposite the tomb of Nekhebu, Reisner came upon a sloping shaft (G2381a) closed with a great rectangular block of limestone that protected the unviolated burial of one of the sons of
Nekhebu, Mer-ptah-ankh-meryre Ptahshepses Impy.
The nucleus mastaba was that of Senedjemib Inti (G2370). This mastaba stands east of the northernmost row of mastabas of the Cemetery en Echelon with the large mastabas G2350 and G2360 intervening. At the time the mastaba was built that cemetery had already grown eastwards beyond G2360, and several smaller mastabas were overbuilt by G2370. In constructing the mastaba of Inti, the eastern part of an older mud brick mastaba G2371 was cut away and the west wall of G2370, constructed of great blocks of grey nummulitic limestone set in high courses and roughly dressed to a sloping surface (Masonry W), was built inside the east wall of G2371.

The remains of walls of small blocks of grey nummulitic limestone set in correspondingly low courses to form a rough sloping surface (Masonry U) inside G2370 at ground level (numbered G2372 by Reisner) apparently represented the east face of G2371, and indicated a wide recess in the middle of a north–south facade forming a portico chapel with a roof supported by pillars. Still within G2370 and parallel to the presumed face of G2371/G2372, at a distance of 60 cm, ran a north–south wall of small numm. limestone blocks set in low-stepped courses forming the back wall of another older mastaba (G2373). The front part of this mastaba was destroyed by the construction of the interior chapel of Inti. A shaft immediately behind Inti’s false door was ascribed to G2373 by Reisner and lettered A. Part of a wall that probably belonged to an older mastaba was also discovered by Reisner under the floor at the western end of the pillared hall of G2370. Older mud brick walls were also found at different levels under G2378 and G2379.

The paved court of the Senedjemib Complex is higher than the foundations of G2370 and about 2.0 m higher than the rock east of the complex. The east wall of the paved area was formed by a retaining wall of heavy rubble with a batter on the east, and the sloping ramp from the floor level of the court to the lower ground led down between two low walls. Along the retaining wall were five large sloping-passage tombs, G2370b (Senedjemib Inti) entering the wall itself, and G2381a (Impy), G2382a (Nekhebu), G2385a (Khnumenti?), and G2387a (owner of G2385?), all to the east of the retaining wall of the platform. These tombs, along the eastern edge of the Western Field, where the topography favors the use of sloping passages from the east, are among the earliest sloping-passage burial places made in this area of the necropolis.
The rock underlying the Senedjemib Complex had an uneven surface. Under G2370, it lay 1.45–2.0 m below the floor and descended eastwards, sloping gently under the ramp leading up from the pyramid plateau. From south to north the rock rose to an east– west ridge in front of the doorway of G2370, dipped again under the north part of the paved court, and then rose gently to the front of
G2378, whose walls were founded on rock or nearly so. The eastern side of the knoll on which
G2378 was built had been quarried away, probably by quarrymen working on the Great Pyramid and directly under the east wall of G2378 ran a north–south scarp. Along the eastern side of the foundation platform, the rock surface descended gently to the north.
The rock surface east of the foundation platform was rough and may well have been a quarry floor. It was crossed from south to north by a drainage channel cut in the rock leading away from the northwest corner of the enclosure of the Great Pyramid. Reisner assumed it was cut and constructed in the “late Cheops period”, (mn_Видно большие дожди донимали Хеопса). Where it passed under the enclosure wall of the pyramid, the channel was carefully roofed. A smaller channel was constructed inside the rock-cut drain with slabs on the two sides and a slab roof, bound with gypsum. The drainage channel was 1.10 m in width and 0.55 m deep. The excavated length was 57.0 m.
The drain was intended to draw off rainwater from the low ground northwest of the pyramid. The water was, in fact, a danger to the burials in the sloping passage tombs, and in two cases, G2385a and G2387a, where the upper end of the sloping passage cut into the drain, the channel was blocked with masonry on both sides. In the case of the intact tomb G2381a, water had run in down the sloping passage and collected in the southwest corner of the chamber.
The foundation platform of the open paved court was constructed in two or three stages. Initially it extended from the south end of G2381 to the south end of G2385 and formed a rectangle wider (21.6 m) in front of the north half of G2370. The court was crossed by a paved path which led from the entrance of
G2370 to the sloping ramp down to the pyramid plateau. Thereafter Inti’s sloping passage tomb (G2370b) was excavated under the platform, its approach constructed of rubble and masonry, the opening protected by a rubble well surmounted by masonry walls and roofed with slabs, and the platform extended eastwards by a rubble wall filled with limestone rubbish. Apparently at the same time, or after the burial of Inti, the platform over his burial place, including the new addition to the platform, was surrounded by a wall on all four sides.
The next construction in the Senedjemib Complex was the mastaba of Senedjemib Mehi (G2378), which stood on the north of the paved court and was entered from the south from the court. The pavement of the court was extended northwards to the face of G2378 and the sloping passage G2378a, under the east wall of the mastaba, made as Mehi’s burial place.
At the time G2378 was built, an older mastaba belonging to a man named Akhetmehu (G2375), who had no apparent connection with the Senedjemib family, stood in the northwestern part of this area. The mastaba of Khnumenti (G2374) was built between the north side of G2370 and the southern side of the mastabas of Akhetmehu and Mehi with a strengthening of the south court wall of G2375. The exterior north wall of G2370 was dressed flat in rooms I and II of the chapel of G2374 to take the reliefs. The sloping-passage tomb G2385a probably belongs to mastaba G2374.
Later two additions (G2376 and G2377) to the mastaba of Mehi were built on the west and closed off all access to Akhetmehu’s chapel. G2377 was built against the west wall of G2378, with G2376 built against its own west wall. The additions contained one burial shaft each. G2376a was found open and empty, but G2377a contained the skeleton of an adult female.
On the pavement of the platform on the east side of the court, north of the entrance passage to the complex, G2384 was next built. The walls of the mastaba were poorly preserved and the plan not recoverable, but presumably it also opened on the court. Although the false door is missing, it seems likely from the evidence of the offering stone, topped with a torus moulding and cavetto cornice and provided with a carved loaf-on-mat design on its upper surface, which once stood in front of it, that
G2384, like most of the other mastabas on the platform, possessed an east–west offering room. Since g2385 was built against its north wall, G2384 is clearly earlier in date than the latter. It may well have belonged to the elder son of Senedjemib Mehi, likewise named Senedjemib, who is depicted in his father’s mastaba.
Next, the old platform was extended northwards north of G2384 along the eastern side of G2378 to near its northeast corner. The space east of the north–south scarp on which G2378 was built was filled with clean limestone debris retained by two parallel north–south rubble walls about 4 m east of G2378. On this extension was constructed a large mastaba without shafts, G2385. Opening on the eastern side of the court, this northeastern mastaba was occupied by a chapel of eight rooms and two serdabs. Burial was presumably in sloping-passage tomb G2387a. The mastaba was unfortunately destroyed to within one or two courses of the floor, and no indication of ownership was found. Reisner thought that the proprietor of the mastaba was a son of Senedjemib Mehi and, if G2384 indeed belonged to Mehi’s older son Senedjemib, it is possible that the proprietor of G2385 was Mehi’s younger son, who bore his father’s “good name,” Mehi. There are other candidates for the ownership of the mastaba, however, including a putative son of Khnumenti. On the other hand, from its size the mastaba clearly belonged to an important and wealthy individual and, for this reason, the best candidate is perhaps Nekhebu’s anonymous older brother who achieved the position of overseer of works underPepy I.
Late in the reign of Pepy I, Inti’s grandson(?) Nekhebu built G2381 on the south end of the paved platform, south of the portico of G2370, against its east facade. A little later an east– west serdab was built on its east side adjoining the pathway across the court which led to the sloping ramp to the pyramid plateau. According to Reisner, Nekhebu was buried in sloping-passage tomb G2382a along the retaining wall just to the north of the sloping ramp. Three other shafts, G2381x, y, and z were perhaps included within the confines of the superstructure of G2381.
The distance from the west side of G2384 to the east face of G2370 was about 13.65 m. From the north side of the serdab of G2381 to the south face of G2378 is about 14.8 m. These measurements give an approximate area of 202 sq. m. for the great paved court of the complex in its final transformation.
Three smaller tomb chapels were also set up on the pavement of the platform. G2383 was built against the south face of G2378, west of the portico, and two others, G2386a and b, between G2384 and the sloping entrance ramp. Reisner felt that G2383, which contained a small false door with cavetto cornice and torus moulding dedicated to a vizier named Wer-kau-ba Iku, belonged to the owner of G2376 or G2377, since no shaft was found in or behind the chapel. Strudwick, however, dates Iku to the end of the Old Kingdom or later, on account of the small size of the offering room and because the insertion of the tomb among those of the Senedjemib family presumably postdated the principal interments, the latest of which (Ptahshepses Impy) in all likelihood dates to the reign of Pepy II. If his dating is correct, as seems likely, Iku may instead have been buried in the intrusive shaft constructed in the southern half of the serdab of G2378. It seems more likely anyway that G2376 and G2377 were originally intended for members of Mehi’s immediate family.
Each of the two chapels built between G2384 and the entrance ramp leading up to the complex was provided with an (uninscribed) monolithic false door. Chapel G2386a was entered by a narrow east–west passage from the main court of the complex and opened eastward into chapel G2386b. The identical nature of the two offering places and the unusual intercommunication suggests that these were the chapels of the two brothers, Ptahshepses Impy and Sabu-ptah Ibebi. Along the retaining wall just to the south of the ramp, Reisner found the burial of Ptahshepses Impy in sloping-passage tomb G2381a, which descends under ruined mastaba G239o. The burial was dated to Pepy II by a jarsealing. On the other side of the drainage channel leading away from the enclosure of the Great Pyramid, Reisner uncovered slopingpassage tomb G2381c. The similarity in plan of G2381c to G2381a suggests it contained the burial of Impy’s brother Sabu-ptah Ibebi.
On the platform east of G2381 and south of the ramp approach to the court was built the badly denuded mastaba G2390. Shaft G2390a, which was found open and plundered by Reisner, may have belonged to this mastaba. The lower part of an uninscribed monolithic false door still marks the location of what was presumably the east–west offering room of this anonymous mastaba.
Outside the complex proper, on a much lower level to the north of G2385, was constructed the mud brick mastaba G2379 (anonymous), and north of this was built G2391, a small mastaba belonging to a family of priests of the Senedjemib family. East of the two latter mastabas and east of the drainage channel leading away from the Great Pyramid were built some very late mastabas (Cemetery G2450). Other priests and servitors of the Senedjemib family had tombs in the immediate environs to the south and west of the complex. Reisner believed that the smaller mastabas of the Senedjemib Complex together with the tombs of the funerary priests beside it may well be nearly the last in the Giza cemetery prior to the intrusive burials of the Saite and Roman Periods. According to him, the official cemetery fell into disuse during the time of Pepy II or his successors of the late Old Kingdom, through the dissipation of earlier endowments or their diversion to other uses.
In passing, it is perhaps germane to mention that Reisner found in front of G2370b and G2382a fragments of a number of alabaster statues of Khafre. In his opinion, the statues had been hauled there either in the Fifth or Sixth Dynasties and broken up to make the small alabaster offering dishes of which he found so many examples.
G2370 are illustrated by him. Lepsius also discovered three fragments of alabaster vessels and three faience amulets of “later date,” along with other objects, in G2378. In the Roman period an inclined roadway paved with stone slabs had been laid up the mound of debris which covered the Senedjemib Complex to the top of Inti’s tomb, and the pillared hall had been used as a communal or family burial place. Prior to that time the tombs on the east and south of the paved court of the complex had been extensively damaged and their separate stones were found scattered in confusion in the debris under the Roman period pavement.

The notes to the Architecture of Senedjemib’s complex
From about the reign of Neferirkare, there is an increasing complexity evident in the internal plans of mastabas belonging to high officials. This complexity manifests itself toward the end of Dynasty 5 in multiple-roomed chapels like those of Rawer at Giza, Ptahshepses at Abusir or Ti at Saqqara, and is likewise evident in the queens’ and viziers’ tombs of the end of Dynasty 5 and the beginning of Dynasty 6  in the Unis and Tetipyramid cemeteries at the latter site.
At both Saqqara and Giza this trend towards elaboration also materializes in family complexes. At Saqqara the Ptahhetep Complex comprises a series of family tombs erected around a large open court. The same is true of the Senedjemib Complex and, to a lesser degree, of the complex of Seshemnofer IV at Giza. The individual unit on which the two Giza complexes was based is the east–west offering room. In the case of both Senedjemib Inti and Seshemnofer IV, a pillared hall and other subsidiary rooms were added to this nucleus. The tomb of Inti’s older contemporary, the vizier Ptahhetep I in the Ptahhetep Complex at Saqqara, is also a multiroomed chapel based upon an east–west offering room, as is the chapel of the latter’s son Akhethetep.
The open courts of the Senedjemib and Seshemnofer complexes both preserve evidence of cult practices in the form of service equipment. At the center of the court of Seshemnofer is a great, rectangular, double-ledge tank or basin of fine Tura limestone set into the pavement with plaster and measuring 2.00 x 1.20 m. Similarly, near the center of the great stone-paved court in front of the mastaba of Senedjemib Inti was a large stone basin, measuring 85 x 53 cm, sunk into the pavement. What appears to be a second, smaller basin is visible just in front of the left-hand column base of the portico of G2370 in Reisner’s detailed plan of the Senedjemib Complex, but this is not otherwise referred to in the records of the Harvard–Boston Expedition. Given its location, it is possible that it belonged to the tomb of Nekhebu, whose portico opened nearby.
Junker believed that the basin in the Seshemnofer court was utilized during the rites of purification contingent upon the mummification of the tomb owner, receiving the libations or remains thereof or of the waters of purification. Reisner, on the contrary, was of the opinion that the large stone basins were filled on feast days with water for the ceremonial purification of the funerary priests and other visitors. Some such arrangement would have been essential, for we know from contemporary sources that visitors to tombs, both priestly and otherwise, had of necessity to be ritually pure.
West of the large basin in the center of the stone-paved court of the Senedjemib Complex, and halfway between it and the east face of G2370, a staple stone with perforated top for tethering sacrificial animals was fixed in the pavement. Staple stones are rarely in evidence in Old Kingdom tombs. One such stone is embedded in the floor between two pillars in the cult hall of Mereruka’s mastaba close to the niche containing the statue of the vizier and the offering stone at its foot, even though Duell expressed doubt as to whether actual sacrifices took place in the mastaba itself. A fragment of what may have been another staple stone was found in the entrance corridor of the mastaba of Ptahhetep I, though not in situ. Alongside an I-shaped staple stone in the rock-cut chapel of Pepyankh the Middle at Meir is located what appears to be a circular basin for catching the blood of the victim.
Some six uninscribed obelisks lined the path leading to the portico of the Seshemnofer complex, and Junker was of the opinion that one pair of obelisks was to be assigned to each of the three proprietors of tombs in the complex, namely, Seshemnofer IV and his sons Tjeti and Ptahhetep. Obelisks such as these served as a symbol of resurrection. If obelisks stood in antiquity before the entrances to the tombs of Inti, Mehi, and Khnumenti, all trace of them has now vanished. Nevertheless, Reisner did find an obelisk inscribed with the name and titles of Nekhebu in a hole at the southern end of the court of the Senedjemib Complex, and a small uninscribed obelisk remained in place beside the door of the anonymous mastaba
The increasing elaboration in tomb architecture apparent from the middle of the Fifth Dynasty not only affected the size and number of rooms but was also reflected in the character of tomb entrances. In a number of large tombs of the later Fifth Dynasty, the usual entrance recess had evolved into a wide and deep portico which was regularly fronted by square pillars at Saqqara or by columns at Abusir and at Giza.
The earliest of these columned porticos in a private tomb may be that of Rawer in the Central Field at Giza (the “Amoeba Tomb”), which was entered by means of a portico whose roof was apparently held up by columns with cylindrical shafts. Although the actual columns are lost, their circular bases survive, and the columns themselves probably resembled the cylindrical columns with square abaci known from the side entrance to the pyramid temple of Sahure, except for the royal titulary inscribed in a vertical column on the latter. Since Rawer’s autobiography refers to an incident which took place under Neferirkare, his tomb must belong to that reign or soon thereafter.
A short while later, both the original and the final entrance porticos in the tomb of the vizier Ptahshepses at Abusir were fronted by lotus-bud columns. Ptahshepses became a member of the royal family upon his marriage to a daughter of Neuserre, and his tomb took over a number of features which may have been the “direct result of the favor shown by that king to his son-in-law.” Lotus-bud columns in stone first appear in the mastaba of Ptahshepses, and it is possible that they emulate in form the papyrus-bud columns utilized throughout Neuserre’s pyramid complex.
At Saqqara the tombs of Ni-ankh-khnum and Khnumhotep, of Ka-em-tjenent, of Izezi-ankh, of Ptahhetep I, and of Ti all have or had entrance porticos fronted by square pillars. The first tomb belongs to the reign of Neuserre or Menkauhor, the others were probably decorated in the reign of Izezi. The pillars of Ptahhetep I are denuded, but the other pillars are or were inscribed with the titles and name of the tomb owner.
At Giza, besides the tomb of Rawer, the mastaba of Senedjemib Inti and the complex of Seshemnofer IV were entered through porticos. This was probably true also of the tombs of Senedjemib Mehi and Nekhebu in the Senedjemib Complex, even though the paving of the wide and deep recess that precedes the entrance to the tomb in each case has been carried away and no traces of columns or their bases survive. Definitely in the case of Senedjemib Inti, since the round bases of the columns survived in situ , and probably also by analogy in the cases of Mehi and Nekhebu, the place of the pillars was taken by cylindrical columns. Circular column bases were also found in situ in the portico of Seshemnofer IV, who appears to have been a younger contemporary of Senedjemib Mehi.
No columns or fragments thereof were actually recovered from any of the Giza tombs. Even so, an approximate idea of the nature and size of the columns may be had from the sets of column bases which were found in situ. It should first of all be noted that the surviving column bases from the tombs of Rawer, Senedjemib Inti, and Seshemnofer IV have rounded sides, being narrower at the top than at the bottom. For the column bases of Rawer, only the outer diameter of 90 cm is given in the publication. Like Rawer’s column bases, the two bases that were set in gypsum mortar and partially concealed by the paving of Inti’s portico, are of Tura limestone. They differ slightly in their dimensions. One base is 28 cm high, while the other measures 24 cm in height. The upper and lower diameters of the columns are respectively 64 and 74 cm and 65 and 76 cm. Since Old Kingdom columns did not reach to the very edge of the top of the base, the diameter of the columns was therefore probably something less than 60 cm. Seshemnofer’s columns were larger than Inti’s, the outer diameter of the bases at the rim being 1.06 m, while the diameter of the circular marks left on their tops by the columns was 75 cm.
It is clear from the circular marks left on the tops of their bases that the columns of Seshemnofer IV’s portico had plain, round shafts. Inti’s bases lack any such markings, while Hassan’s report gives no further details regarding the bases in Rawer’s portico. Whereas it is possible in theory that lotus bud columns originally supported the roofs of the porticos of Rawer and Inti, as they did in the tomb of Ptahshepses at Abusir, the occurence of floral columns in the latter tomb is apparently unique. For that reason, it is more likely that Rawer and Inti’s portico, by analogy with the Seshemnofer IV portico, possessed plain circular columns. Old Kingdom columns of this sort were regularly topped by a square block or abacus on which the architrave rested, and this was most likely also the case at Giza. Baraize, following Junker and Balcz, certainly made a similar assumption and set square abaci at the top of the columns in his reconstruction of Seshemnofer IV’s portico. It was presumably Baraize who likewise provided the circular concrete columns utilized in the modern reconstruction of Senedjemib Mehi’s portico with square abaci.
At Saqqara, limited evidence survives to attest to the character of the entablature, or horizontal superstructure, that was supported by the pillars or columns at the entrance of the tombs of
Ni-ankhkhnum and Khnumhotep, Ptahhetep I, Ka-em-tjenent, and Izeziankh. In each case, this evidence is confined to a large architrave inscribed with the titles and name of the owner. The same is true in the case of Rawer at Giza. No trace of a cornice of any sort appears to survive in any of these porticos.
At Giza, on the other hand, sufficient evidence probably exists to show that the entablatures of the porticos of the tomb of Senedjemib Inti and of the Seshemnofer Complex consisted of an architrave and a cavetto cornice with torus molding. Insofar as the Senedjemib Complex is concerned, the architraves of Inti and Mehi are extant, as is a segment of Nekhebu’s architrave. The architraves of Inti and Mehi both originally comprised three discrete blocks. All three architraves were inscribed in large-scale, sunken hieroglyphs with the name and titles of their owners between border lines. The height of Inti’s architrave was 55 cm, of Mehi’s 48 cm, and of Nekhebu’s 28 cm. No trace remained of the architrave of Seshemnofer IV, which presumably had been removed for reuse elsewhere.
The Harvard–Boston Expedition found a large section of a cavetto-and-torus cornice lying on the ground in front of the entrance to the tomb of Senedjemib Inti. Considering its find spot, it is likely that the block derived from the entablature over Inti’s portico, even though there is no certainty that it could not have come from the tomb of Nekhebu, whose portico opened on the south of Inti’s, or have been dragged by stone-robbers across the court from Mehi’s mastaba. Since it appears to have been the only
such block found by Reisner in the Senedjemib Complex, it is in all probability this cornice that was utilized by Baraize in his reconstruction of the facade of Mehi’s tomb. If it is the same block, it was subsequently cracked and one end broken off at an angle. The restored entablature above the entrance to Mehi’s tomb totals 1.30 m in height, the height of the cornice itself being 60 cm, while the torus moulding and the plain band below were each 11 cm high and the architrave, as already noted, 48 cm in height. A plain band sometimes intervenes between the moulding and the architrave in contemporary cavetto cornices, but it is absent in others so that the torus roll sits directly on the architrave. The latter is true of the cavetto-and-torus cornice from the portico of Seshemnofer IV. The cornices from the Senedjemib and Seshemnofer complexes are both plain and devoid of the customary decoration of cross-lashings and foliage.