Relief from a scene of Mehu fishing

Old Kingdom, late Dynasty 5
2431–2323 B.C.

Findspot: Egypt, Giza, Western Cemetery, tomb of Mehu G 2423


Overall: 38 x 25 x 8.5 cm, 21.32 kg (14 15/16 x 9 13/16 x 3 3/8 in., 47 lb.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Painted limestone

On View

Egypt: Old Kingdom Funerary Arts Gallery (Gallery 105B)


The Ancient World



Mehu faces left, head and torso preserved from waist up, holding a spear. He wears a long wig, short beard, and shenu-collar. Well-preserved paint.

Overall this scene is composed of 10 fragments which form a fragmentary scene of Mehu standing facing right with right arm upraised holding a spear. Fragments of his left striding leg are visible in 39.833.10. The paint is well preserved on the head and torso fragment, 39.833.1,only. Behind Mehu are five, or more, horizontal registers of text.

Originally, this fragment was part of a scene showing a judge named Mehu standing in a papyrus boat and spearing a fish. Such scenes were common in Old Kingdom tomb chapels, and probably had symbolic meaning, representing the tomb owner’s mastery over the forces of nature. Mehu’s yellow-painted spear is visible as a diagonal line across his chest. The well-preserved paint provides a good impression of the bright colors that once adorned most Egyptian relief.


From Giza, tomb of Mehu G 2423, corridor chapel; re-used as roofing of pit X in chapel floor. 1937: excavated by the Harvard University-Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; 1939: assigned to the MFA by the government of Egypt.

Reused in building the intrusive chambers of G 2423X and G.

Credit Line

Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition