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mastaba(măs`təbə), in Egyptian architecture, a sepulchral structure built aboveground. The mastabas of the early dynastic period (3200–2680 B.C.), such as those of the I dynasty at Sakkara, were elaborate, having many storage or offering compartments, and were quite evidently close copies of contemporary houses. Better known are the mastabas of the Old Kingdom (2680–2181 B.C.), which were an elaboration of the predynastic burial-pit and mound form. The typical mastaba was generally rectangular in plan with a flat roof and inward-sloping walls, built of brick and faced with limestone slabs.
(Arabic, literally “stone bench”), the modern name for ancient Egyptian tombs of the Protodynastic Period (c. 3000-2800 B.C.) and the Old Kingdom (c. 2800-2250 B.C.). A mastaba is a rectangular superstructure with sloping sides joined by a vertical shaft to an underground burial chamber with several rooms. The outer walls of mastabas of the Protodynastic Period were built of brick (First Dynasty) or stone (Second Dynasty) and were recessed and brightly painted (exemplified by the tomb of Queen Herneit in Saqqara).
In the mastabas of the Old Kingdom, the superstructure had a severe exterior with smooth walls and a complex interior layout, with halls, corridors, and storerooms (exemplified by the tomb of the royal treasurer Akhethotep and his son Ptahhotep in Saqqara, Fifth Dynasty). The inner chambers contained statues (repositories of the souls of the dead) and the walls were covered with reliefs and paintings.