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The tombs of local governors in the Old and Middle Kingdom

Early Dynastic and Old Kingdom

Already in the First and Second Dynasty there are large tombs in the provinces (the area outside of Abydos and outside the area around Memphis). The tombs presumably belong to local high officials working and living far from the capital or king's court.


Tarkhan | Qau | Ballas

The precise status of the persons buried in those tombs is unknown - through lack of inscribed material.

For the Old Kingdom similar tombs are found. In some tombs inscriptions have survived, so that at least the names of the tombs' owners are known.

Bet Khallaf | Elkab

At the end of the Fourth Dynasty rock cut tombs became common. This type of tomb was especially popular in the provinces. Many (but not all!) of these tombs are decorated with paintings or reliefs. The titles of the persons buried indicate explicitly that they were local officials; mayors or district governors (normachs).

two undecorated rock cut tombs at Sedment

tomb 274 | tomb 415

First Intermediate Period

In these period there are still many rock cut tombs in several provinces. The tombs at Asyut include important inscriptions with information on.the political history of the First Intermediate Period.

Middle Kingdom

There continue to be many rock cut tombs in the provinces. Some of these cemeteries start in the Middle Kingdom, indicating that these high officials were installed in office in that time. At the end of the Twelfth Dynasty the large rock-cut tombs are no longer made.

Places with rock cut tombs of local governors of the Middle Kingdom:

rock cut tombs of the Old Kingdom
rock cut tombs of the First Intermediate Period
date of the Middle Kingdom tombs
Senusret I - Senusret III
at Hemamieh (Kanawati 1991)
Senusret I (?) - Amenemhat III
Amenemhat I - Senusret III
Twelfth Dynasty
no ?
Eleventh Dynasty (?) - ?
Deir el-Bersheh
Eleventh Dynasty - Senusret III
no ?
Middle Kingdom (late?) (Bresciani et al.1998)
Beni Hasan
only small tombs
Eleventh Dynasty - Senusret II/Senusret III


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