North Stone Tomb

View of the North Stone Tomb, showing collapse at the west end of the subterranean burial chamber
View of the North Stone Tomb, showing collapse at the west end of the subterranean burial chamber

This structure is situated apart from the line of brick mausolea of the North Tomb Group and may be one of several such tombs in this part of the site due to scatters of sandstone noted upon the surface. Clearance of surface rubble and sand revealed a single chamber (2m x 4m) made from regularly-cut sandstone blocks at the centre of a mud-brick complex. A rectangular mud-brick entrance chamber with barrel-vault is located on the east of the stone room and another brick chamber was noted to its north.

The tomb was filled completely with wind-blown sand. It had a stone vault, but only a small part of this survived in the southwest corner. The floor of the chamber was also built with stone and the height of the room measured 2.3m at the southwest corner. All of the walls within the room appear to have been coated with a thin layer of gypsum plaster. Faint traces of original painted decoration were preserved on the north and west walls; on the west, parts of a figure making offering to Osiris (?) and the deceased were distinguishable.

Nothing of the original interments or burial equipment was found. As the tomb includes a subterranean chamber, it is possible that this reflects either a cultural or chronological significance of some sort. Subterranean chambers are attested in West Tombs 1, 2 and 3; the latter constructed in mud-brick. The use of stone as a major building material occurs in West Tombs 1 and 2, as well as North Tombs 1 and 2; North Tomb 1 also contains paintings. Although socio-economic factors may have influenced the degree of elaboration and complexity of the tombs, it is possible that vaulted subterranean chambers were also a feature of the earliest mausolea.