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False door from the tomb chapel of Kapure
False door from the tomb chapel of Kapure (E15729), late Dynasty 5-early Dynasty 6 (2415-2298 B.C.).

Detail of a butchering scene from the west wall of tomb chapel
Detail of a butchering scene from the west wall of tomb chapel (E15729).

Gallery Tour


The late Old Kingdom offering chapel of Kapure from Saqqara (dating to ca. 2300 B.C.)
was once part of this high ranking official's mudbrick mastaba tomb. The interior of the chapel was lined with limestone blocks beautifully decorated with carved and painted scenes representing the deceased seated at a table of offerings and receiving funerary provisions. It was acquired by the University of Pennsylvania Museum (UPM) in 1904, after appearing at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis earlier that year.

Originally the plan of the structure included an entrance leading into an outer room with a connecting corridor to a chapel. Early excavators found decoration (painted and carved scenes and text) on only the walls of the connecting corridor and chapel. The chapel was the center of the mortuary cult, the place where funerary priests would perform rituals, recite spells, and leave offerings to ensure that the deceased would prosper in the afterlife.

The focus of the chapel room is the false door, which represented the place where offerings would be made for the deceased. It was also the site where the spirit, which in theory could come up from the burial chamber and proceed forth from the inner niche, would take its sustenance. Several representations of Kapure, both standing and sitting, appear on the false door.

The carved and painted decoration in the chapel focus on the figure of Kapure; several horizontal rows depict offerings and bearers that would provide the necessities that he required for his afterlife, such as wine, cosmetic items, foodstuffs, and clothing. Other scenes feature butchering and the presentation of meat offerings to the deceased. Hieroglyphic texts describe the activity and, in a few cases, document the speech of the workers. "Grasp [the foreleg securely]!" one says. His coworker responds, "I will do as you wish."

Visit Learning Sites virtual Kapure.


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