Tomb of Unisankh at Saqqara and Chicago
Description: softcover with flaps, 144 pp. (29,5x21cm)
Pavel Onderka, Tomb of Unisankh at Saqqara and Chicago, Editio Monographica Musei Nationalis Pragae Num. 5, National Museum, Prague 2009
Unisankh's tomb was built within the so-called Unis Cemetery-North West, set between the funerary complexes of Netjerykhet and Unis in Central Saqqara. Together with two adjoining tombs of the viziers Ihy and Iynefert, it forms the core of the so-called Line A. The Tomb of Unisankh was discovered and excavated by James E. Quibell, then the chief inspector at Saqqara in 1908, for the purpose of the sale of its chapel to the Chicago museum. The Tomb built of Tura (or more precisely Maasara) limestone is an example of non-royal, large, multi-roomed mastabas belonging to the highest officials of the late Old Kingdom.
One hundred years ago, Edward E. Ayer, the father of the Egyptian collection of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, IL, purchased two chapels of Old Kingdom mastabas from the vicinity of the funerary complex of Netjerykhet at Central Saqqara. One of them belonged to Unisankh who, is broadly considered to have been son of Unis, the last king of the Fifth Dynasty. Unisankh's toil was built within the so-called Unis Cemetery-North West set between the funerary complexes 61 Netjerykhet and Unis. Together with two adjoining tombs of the viziers Ihy and lynefert, it forms the core of the so-called Line A.The tomb of Unisankh was discovered and excavated by James E. Quibell, then the chief inspector at Saqqara in 1908, for the purpose of the sale of its chapel to the Chicago museum. Zaki Y. Saad worked at the Unis Cemetery North-West in the season of 1939-1940. The Hanover Group led by Peter Munro documented the large mastabas of the cemetery, in 1970s and 1980s. Only the double-mastaba of Queens Khenut and Nebet and the relief decoration of the tomb of the vizier Mehu has been published so far. Most recently the Egyptian-Australian team headed by Naquib Kanawati worked in Line A of the cemetery. Due to the geographical division of Unisankh's tomb, the final publication did not include the tomb of Unisankh. The present publication aims at filling this gap putting together the documentation assembled by the Hanover Group in early 1980s and outcomes of documentation works recently carried out in the Field Museum. The Tomb built of Tura (or more precisely Maasara) limestone is an example of non-royal, large, multi-roomed mastabas belonging to the highest officials of the late Old Kingdom, a type that first appeared during the reign of Nyuserre and continuously developed during the first part of the Sixth Dynasty. The Tomb dates to the early reign of Unis and represents a remarkable phase in the development of the class of tombs under consideration. Unisankh held altogether nine titles: "King's son", "sole companion", "overseer of Upper Egypt", "property administrator of the King", "staff of the rekhyt people", "support of the kenemut people", "overseer of a (law) court", "priest of Maat" and "privy to the secrets". The preserved information provided by the tomb allows us to conclude that Unisankh was a high official at the court of Unis who died in the early part of the king's reign at the age of 30-35, before reaching the climax of his career, i.e. before becoming the vizier. The highest office he attained was that of overseer of Upper Egypt. His title "King's son" was of a titular and not real character.
Foreword (by Christian E. Loeben)
Unis Cemetery North-West
Appendix A: Inner Structure of Large Mutli-Roomed Mastabas
Appendix B: From Saqqara to Chicago -The Correspondence
Appendix C: Material Characteristics of the Mastaba (by Jaromir Leichmann)