Thursday, March 19, 2015

Tjez-Tjazet - female guard

The position of guard was fundamentally a male occupation. However, very rare instances of female guards are known. For example, Raramu at Giza, who held the relatively modest title of under-supervisor of the palace guards, had one son and one daughter, who were at the most basic level of their father’s profession, ‘guard’ and ‘(female) guard’ respectively, the latter bearing the name Tjez-Tjazet.  Iupu, mother of the palace guard Khufuankh of Giza, was also a guard, and another woman with the name Merynebty , who is buried in the Teti cemetery at Saqqara, also held the simple title of ‘(female) guard’. We are uncertain about the responsibilities of female guards, but they may have been appointed to perform a special task, perhaps in the most intimate parts of the royal harem. No female guard with supervisory rank is known to me and the rarity of female guards, since the position existed, in comparison with the huge number of their male counterparts, is surprising. It is true that the simple ‘guards’ did not usually possess independent tombs, but it remains astonishing that simple female guards do not appear more often in the tombs of the higher-ranking officials as wives, daughters or retainers.

The name and figure of Mereri have been carefully erased on both entrance architrave and false door, and it was with difficulty that we were able to detect parts of the name. The erased parts on the false door have been smoothed in order to receive the inscriptions of a new owner, a woman called Merynebty who only held the titles guard and acquaintance of the king. However, not only were her inscriptions rendered in black paint, as against relief, but they were never inscribed on the left jambs of the false door. The burial chamber was found disturbed, broken into from both its entrance and from the south-east corner of the chamber itself through a tunnel made from a nearby tomb by tomb robbers. The lid still covered the burial pit, but was broken at the corner. The human remains found in the pit are predominantly those of an elderly woman, with a very few male bones, which perhaps found their way there when the tomb robbers dug the tunnel between this burial chamber and that of a neighbouring tomb.

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