Over time, nations have changed their beliefs and views on death, the afterlife, and how one should act or be treated during the life they’re living. Ancient Egyptians believed in life after death, and the Mastaba Tomb of Perneb was dedicated just to that, and it displayed images of workers, the pharaoh, and warriors – all members of Egypt’s harsh caste system.
Overview – The tomb is a multi-walled building, with painted art on each wall. On one wall, there are slave workers and commoners, who look to be building and tending to something of the kingdom’s. On the narrower wall, at the top there is a pharaoh figure sitting, and below them, warriors. Around the drawings there is writing in Egyptian hieroglyphics. This structure is made out of a limestone material.
Parts – The fact that the pharaoh is at the top of the paintings stands out, and makes it clear that they are the person in-charge. The largest person on the wider wall appears to be in a position of authority, but isn’t at the top of the painting, hinting that they may not be the most important person, possibly just the voice of the pharaoh. The building itself seems very open and very public.
Title – The tomb’s name is “Mastaba Tomb of Perneb,” meaning the eternal house (also known as a mastaba) of a court official Perneb, who had the duty of crowning and robing new kings for Egypt.
Interpretation – The intent of the tomb is to display the importance of the Perneb in Egyptian society, as they were responsible for the acceptance of a new king. In the center of the tomb, the space was closed on all four sides, but open to the sky, as the Egyptians summoned the sun god Re, who they believed was the ultimate source of life during Perneb’s time.
Context – The Egyptian social caste system consisted of a pharaoh at the top, priests, soldiers, scribes, and merchants in the middle, and farmers, slaves, and servants at the bottom. Pharaohs tended to be a position passed down from father to son, meaning that the same family stayed at the top of the system for the majority of time. As well as an intense caste system, the Egyptian society, like many others at the time, saw tombs to be more of a place for the belief of life after death, rather than a place of mourning.
Conclusion – The visual was used as a place of worship for the sun god Re, as well as a common place where ancient Egyptians lived and would socialize and do housework. In class, we have been reading about the different cultures as well as their rituals and beliefs, and many of them are similar to ancient Egypt in that they worshipped the elements, and saw tombs and cemeteries more as places to worship than to mourn. We are also beginning to see, as we read more about societies changing over time, that the social and political caste system isn’t as prominent in later times, including now, as few nations have one today.