About Meir Necropolis

Meir necropolis lies at the edge of the cultivation, about 50km north-west of Asyut. The modern town of el-Qusiya, about 8km to the east of Meir, probably derives its name from the ancient Qis, classical Cusae during Graeco-Roman times. Although Qis was capital of the 14th Upper Egyptian nome, there are few remaining traces of the ancient town. It was in the necropolis at Meir that the provincial rulers, or nomarchs of the region were buried in tombs high in the hillside, with the more humble population further down the slope.

Meir has had little archaeological attention since the tombs were first published by Aylward Blackman for the Egypt Exploration Fund in 1914 and then excavated by Sayed Pasha Kabasha in 1919. Reisner described model boats found at Meir and Daressy produced a study of the coffins. Since then the area has been fairly inaccessible to tourists but recently several of the tombs have been cleared and opened to visitors. The cemetery has many important rock-cut tombs dating to Dynasty VI and Dynasty XII, containing unusual painted scenes, characterized by their naturalistic qualities. Many of the tombs contain highly detailed scenes of daily life, including industries and sports and have a distinct local style.

Tomb of Niankh-hpepy (Meir A-1)

Niankh-hpepy was also known by the name of ‘Hepi the Black’ and his large tomb reflects his important status of Chancellor of Pepi I during Dynasty VI. The tomb contains four chambers. In the first and largest of these Niankh-hpepy and his wife are depicted receiving offerings of cattle, birds, animals and food and observing fishing and fowling, with the preparation of the catch. On the western wall of the tomb there is a stela with an offering slab in front. There are many shafts in Niankh-hpepy’s tomb, for the burials of his family.

Tomb of Senbi (Meir B-1)

This is perhaps one of the best known tombs at Meir. Senbi held the hereditary position of Nomarch and ‘Overseer of Priests’ during the reign of Amenemhet I of Dynasty XII, and his father was called Ukhhotep. His tomb contains many scenes of offerings, though some are now badly damaged, as well as agricultural and manufacturing scenes. The best preserved of the manufacturing scenes include vase-making. He is also shown in a spectacular desert hunting scene, accompanied by his dogs. At either side against the front walls of the chapel are two basins which would have been used during the offering rituals. A raised central aisle leads through the tomb to a statue niche at the rear.

How to get there

The town of el-Qusiya is 50km north of Asyut, and around 25km south of Mallawi on the west bank of the Nile. From el-Qusiya a road leads west to the edge of the cultivation for about 8km to the necropolis of Meir.