Relief of Nekhebu with biographical inscription

Old Kingdom, Dynasty 6
2323–2150 B.C.

Findspot: Egypt, Giza, Found with objects from Nekhebu, G 2381/2


Block: : 38.5 x 65.5 x 24 cm (15 3/16 x 25 13/16 x 9 7/16 in.) Overall: 251 x 89 cm (98 13/16 x 35 1/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World



This fragment forms the top and left edge of the biography of Nekhebu. Executed in fine, sunk relief, it consists of one horizontal register of finely-detailed hieroglyphs reading from left to right. Below the horizontal register, there are portions of the beginning of seven vertical columns of text separated by incised vertical lines. There are traces of pink plaster from ancient restoration on several areas of the surface.
Overall 13.4331.1 to .27 refers to two scenes which form a corner. On one face is the biography scene and on the other is the spear fishing scene of Nekhebu. Both scenes share blocks in common and have the same accession number. The biography scene consists of one horizontal and eight vertical columns of inscription above a seated figure of Nekhebu in sunk relief facing left. He holds a long staff in his right hand and a handkerchief in his left. The spear fishing scene consists of Nekhebu spearing fish with his family on a papyrus boat in a papyrus thicket.
[Alternate Text:]
This wall came from the entryway to the tomb of Nekhebu, built at the northwest corner of the Great Pyramid of Giza. Like his father and grandfather before him, Nekhebu was pharaoh’s chief architect. The carved scene shows him spear fishing in the marshes, standing upon a papyrus skiff with his son behind him. Two fish are caught on the end of Nekhebu’s spear, while many birds flee the papyrus thicket above them.

The decoration continues around the corner of the wall, but is out of view due to a temporary wall in this gallery. The drawing below shows the long vertical biographical inscription carved here, mentioning several of Nekhebu’s construction projects completed for his sovereign, King Pepi I (2390-2361 B.C.). The rest of the biography is in the Cairo Museum.

Selected translations from the biographical inscription of Nekhebu:
(Line 1) The sole companion, King’s architect, Mer-ptah-ankh-mery-re (i.e. Nekhebu). He says: (2) I am a workman of Mery-re my lord. His Majesty sent me [to direct all the works of the king?], (and) I [acted] to the satisfaction of His Majesty in Lower and Upper Egypt…
(Line 4) …His Majesty praised me for it (5) in the presence of the [officials]. His Majesty gave me gold amulets (?), bread, and beer in very great quantity…


From Giza, on shelf labeled "Nekhebu G2381/2". Nekhebu, G 2382 [(originally thought to be a tomb, but now known to be a jumbled deposit of limestone blocks from other nearby tombs)], court, originally from G 2381. Excavated by the Harvard University–Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; assigned to the MFA in the division of finds by the government of Egypt.
(Accession date: May 25, 2005)

Credit Line

Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition