The tombs of Kaisebi (AS 76) and Ptahwer (AS 76b) at Abusir South

Oct 1, 2018

Kaisebi’s chapel with an offering stand after partial cleaning and reconstruction (photo by M. Frouz)

Project description

The Czech Institute of Egyptology’s excavations at Abusir South in 2014 have led to the discovery of the tomb of Kaisebi (AS76) and the adjoining structure of Ptahwer (AS 76b). Both tombs are dated to the end of the Third Dynasty. 

Decorative program

The Tomb of Kaisebi: The tomb’s limestone walls “were once decorated in colourful wall paintings. Unfortunately, only their lower parts were preserved in their original positions, all covered with a hard mixture of salt and sand… A few tiny, loose fragments of wall decoration were found in the fill of the funerary chapel. The short entrance corridor to the chapel was decorated with painted low relief. On the northern wall was a sailing scene, from which only two oars remained. Their orientation points to the movement of the boat inside the tomb. The southern part depicted men walking outside the chapel carrying birds. In the easternmost section, part of a calf’s head lying on the ground is still visible. The motifs of the northern and southern walls of the chapel were represented only by paintings (red outlines on a white base) that were couloured in showing the deceased, another man, a woman and offering bearers. Unfortunately, only the lower parts of the scenes have survived...” 

The false door of Kaisebi “was found in situ set into the western wall of the chapel, its uppermost part with the funerary repast scene on the panel and the uppermost lintel with the offering formula are missing.” “The regular ritual purification activity performed in the chapel included repeated whitewashing of the false door, due to which the door seemed to be made of a white piece of stone with remains of sunken relief. However, the efforts of a restorer proved it to be beautifully decorated. Thanks to the layers of ancient whitewash, all the colours were protected, and after restoration, came out as strong and bright as if newly applied… The door itself was cut from white limestone of excellent quality and was partly painted red in imitation of more precious granite. The hieroglyphic signs included blue, green, black, orange and red colours.”

Documentation method

Not specified by the authors.

Visual example(s)


The false door of Kaisebi after cleaning (photo M. Frouz, drawing J. Malátková)

What we like

  • Various line weights applied to indicate depth of carving, fitting with the generally accepted sun-shadow conventions.
  • Painted details, wherever providing extra information over the sunk relief, are shown as light gray dotted lines, creating a stark contrast versus the solid representation of carved lines.
  • Color is occasionally represented by grayscale patterns of various density. Although not every color is indicated in this manner, the faded painted figure on the lower right corner becomes quite recognizable by the application of color coded areas. The documentation wouldn't have the same effect without this basic color implementation.
  • To eliminate the overcomplication of this multilayered documentation program, damaged areas are not represented on the drawing. Only general outlines of basic architectural features appear, hence providing a frame for the decorative elements.  

Additional reading

For the original context of the material appearing in this article see: Veronika Dulíková, Lucie Jirásková, Hana Vymazalová, Katarína Arias Kytnarová, Petra Havelková – The tombs of Kaisebi (AS 76) and Ptahwer (AS 76b) at Abusir South in: Prague Egyptological Studies (PES) 19 (2017): 3-26.

The same article complemented with a colour photograph appears here.

A further article reporting on the site in Czech appears here

To read more about the Czech Institute and their current projects, visit their home page.

Précis and commentary by Júlia Schmied


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