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Mastaba Seminar


Admission requirements

Regular MA admission; sufficient knowledge of Classical Egyptian of the Old Kingdom (if in doubt, contact the instructor). This course has a minimum number of students of four.


Study of elite tombs of the Old Kingdom from outside the capital region.

Course objectives

Students will have insight in the iconography and the principles underlying the decoration of Old Kingdom elite tombs and they will collect material for a database from publications. In addition, they will be able to undertake research on the basis of this material, and have a good understanding of the MastaBase database and its possibilities.


Tuesdays 11.30-13.30 H. in room NINO/208a, on the following days: 24/3; 7/4; 21/4; 12/5; 26/5; 9/6; 23/6.
Deadline for handing in paper: 17/8/2015.

Mode of instruction

Seminar, self-study and written assignments.

Course Load

The total study load of the course is 5 EC = 140 hours

  • Attending seminars: 14 hours

  • Preparing for seminars and writing assignments: 126 hours

Assessment method

Written assignments during the course (30%) and a final paper (70%).



Reading list

For cursory reading:

  • Montet, P. 1925. Les scènes de la vie privée dans les tombeaux égyptiens de l’Ancien Empire. Strasbourg

  • Vandier, J. 1964-1978. Manuel d’Archéologie Égyptienne IV-VI. Paris

  • Harpur, Y. 1987. Decoration in Egyptian tombs of the Old Kingdom. Studies in orientation and scene content. London

  • Cherpion, N. 1989. Mastabas et hypogées d’Ancien Empire, Bruxelles

Study and comment upon:

  • Cherpion, N. 1984. De quand date la tombe du nain Seneb?, BIFAO 84, 35-54.

  • Harpur, Y. 1985-1987. The identity and positions of relief fragments in museums and private collections, JEA 71, 27-42; 72, 23-40; 73, 197-200; SAK 13, 107-123

  • Kessler, D. 1987. Zur Bedeutung der Szenen des täglichen Lebens in den Privatgräbern (I): Die Szenen des Schiffbaues und der Schiffahrt, ZÄS 114, 59-88

  • Müller, I. 1974. Die Ausgestaltung der Kultkammern in den Gräbern des Alten Reiches in Giza und Saqqara, Forschungen und Berichte 16, 79-96.

  • Weeks, K. 1979. Art, word and the Egyptian world view, in: K. Weeks (ed.), Egypt and the social sciences. Cairo, 59-81.

  • Walsem, R. van, 2005. Iconography of Old Kingdom elite tombs. Analysis & interpretation, theoretical and methodological aspects.
    Copies of these are available at the desk of the NINO-library for consultation.


Students are required to register for this course via uSis, the course registration system of Leiden University. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.


Instructor via e-mail