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The Hidden Tomb at the Field Museum
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kmt_sesh
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2007 12:21 am    Post subject: The Hidden Tomb at the Field Museum Reply with quote

Most Egyptophiles who visit the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago are well familiar with the reconstructed mastaba of Unis-Ankh on the main level, and of course with the beautiful Egyptian galleries down on the ground floor.

Unis-Ankh was a Dynasty 5 prince, the son of King Unis, and his mastaba was excavated in Saqqara in 1908. Our posters carla and Ochytoe have shared some wonderful photos of the Unis pyramid complex in this discussion and have greatly assisted in my understanding of the layout of the site and the location and makeup of the remains of Unis-Ankh's mastaba in Saqarra. At the Field we have the actual antechamber and offering chapel of Unis-Ankh built into the reconstructed mastaba.

However, very few visitors to the Field Museum know that a second, complete offering chapel is located on the ground level, no more than a hundred feet from the main galleries of our Egyptian exhibit. That's because it's no longer accessible to visitors and is hidden within a complex of offices near the north end of the ground floor. The offices don't even appear on this museum floor plan, but they're on the west end of the large central area called The Siragusa Center (a cafeteria of sorts). The little icon for "Frist Aid" kind of marks the doorway to Protective Services, and the offering chapel is back in there somewhere.

I've never seen this second offering chapel myself. Few people who work or volunteer at the museum nowadays have seen it. The chapel is permanently closed off to the public and only scholars and researchers are allowed to view it. Mad

I understand the second offering chapel used to be part of the old Egyptian exhibit, until about twenty years ago. That's when the entire ground floor was rebuilt, as well as the Egyptian exhibit. It was decided the second offering chapel could not be safely moved, and it was not "user-friendly" to visitors (meaning there was only one way in and no separate exit), so the curators decided to close it off. The current version of our Egyptian exhibit, "Inside Ancient Egypt," opened around 1989.

This second offering chapel belonged to a Dynasty 5 priest named Netjeruser. Like Unis-Ankh's, Netjeruser's mastaba was built in Saqqara, but I've been unsuccessful in trying to research precisely where in this vast necropolis it was located. I can't even pin down the pyramid complex to which it was attached. The fact that "Netjeruser" was a fairly common Old Kingdom name is only one of my hurdles. Should any of you know more about this than I do, I would gladly welcome your assistance.

Netjeruser's offering chapel might be inaccessible but there are plenty of photos of it on the museum's intranet archives, and I've downloaded many of them. I would like to share some of them with you folks so you can appreciate its beauty as I have. In my personal opinion the quality of its reliefs and decorations surpasses that of Unis-Ankh's tomb.

To start us off, below is a photo of how the offering chapel still looks in its secret little room somewhere behind Protective Services:



It still possesses its sandy floor and an assortment of stonewear and ceramic vessels for atmosphere. Again, I've never personally seen this offering chapel and so it's hard for me to judge scale, but to me the false door at the far end looks to be even larger than Unis-Ankh's, and that one is eight or nine feet tall and weighs seven tons. I believe visitors were allowed to enter the chapel only to a certain point as you see in the photo, where it was closed off by a glass wall.

Before proceeding further, the intranet contains archival photographs of the excavation of Netjeruser's tomb, from sometime in the early 1900s. Click here...here...and here. Click here for a closeup of the false door as it appears in the Field Museum, and you can compare it to this photo of the false door before it was removed from the ruins of the Saqqara tomb. Here's another nice photo of the false door in situ:



The archives also contain photos of the revamping of the ground level in the late 1980s. In this photo you can see all of the surrounding walls of the old Egyptian exhibit stripped away to reveal Netjeruser's offering chapel and the cribbing that supports it:



I don't know how far into the tomb this would've been, or if it's the remains of the actual front. The chapel is the entrance to the right; you can see how visitors would've been able to enter only a few feet before they were met by the glass wall of the chapel-proper (see photo above). Note the small niche to the left, in which is a secondary false door. I've noticed this feature in the photos of numerous Old Kingdom mastabas--it probably comes from the archaic practice of having an offering niche on the exterior, before mastabas were built with rooms on the inside. Here's a rear view of the niche and chapel, and a closeup of the chapel entrance.

I could find no decent modern photos of the smaller false door located inside the niche. Most of are of this quality, which isn't terribly helpful.

Above the entrance to the offering chapel is this inscription:



Translated it says: "Who in the hell stole my tomb?" Razz Just kidding. It says: "First under the King, Netjeruser." You can see how elaborately carved the individual glyphs are, and the green pigment strikes me as unusual.

*****************************************************************

What follows are random photos of the reliefs in the offering chapel. I'll not burden you with lengthy captions. Just enjoy the photos and let me know if you have any questions; I'll answer them if I'm able to!

1.

2.

3.

4.Click here. pharaohcomp

5.Click here. pharaohcomp

6.Click here. pharaohcomp

7.Click here. pharaohcomp

I hope you enjoyed Netjeruser's offering chapel, one of the truly hidden treasures of the Field Museum. Smile
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2007 1:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kmt_Sesh, these are wonderful! Do you know if this has been published anywhere?

In photo #2, on the right side of the back wall, the bottom block & then just above the line, there are some glyphs. But I can't see them well- do you have any idea what they might be?

Thank you- you always come up with the most interesting things to share with us. Very Happy

How did you happen to find out about this tomb?

-kat newkirk
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2007 1:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is this your guy, Kmt_sesh?

Arrow Link 1
Arrow Link 2

His name's Usernetjer, but I fgured it might just be an alternate spelling. Sorry, I didn't have time to look through all the info and pictures right now, so I may be way off. Do any of the scenes look familiar?
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2007 8:43 pm    Post subject: Re: The Hidden Tomb at the Field Museum Reply with quote

On closer inspection, I'm convinced I've found the right tomb...it's just a shame that there doesn't seem to be any mention of a tomb number or location point anywhere, but at least it gives a nice view of how the tomb was laid out.

For example, look closely at your picture of the false door and compare it with the one on DigitalEgypt. All the fault-lines are in the exact same place.

Next, check out how Netjeruser's / Usernetjer's name's written. Here's yours from the Field, and here's the one from DigitalEgypt. You can see that although the one on DigitalEgypt is in a poorer state, the name is still spelt the same except for the 'old man' determinative at the end on DigitalEgypt which is missing from the Field's version. Maybe the guys at the museum didn't want you Chicagoans knowing he was an old man?! Laughing

There's also what seems to me to be an exact copy of this scene you posted as well on DigitalEgypt Cool

And my guess is, this is the other false door that you couldn't find a good close-up of in the Field's archives. Wink

Anyhoo, thanks for sharing the photos with us. It looks like it was a very interesting piece at the Field. It's a real shame that they closed it up!
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2007 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for sharing the story and the pics!

Doesn't it remind you somewhat of the story line in "The Book of the Dead" by Preston and Childs? Smile

An offering chapel hidden in the bowels of a natural history museum ...
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2007 12:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kat wrote:
Quote:
Kmt_Sesh, these are wonderful! Do you know if this has been published anywhere?


Thanks, kat. I've never looked into Netjeruser's tomb before and started looking only a couple of nights ago, with next to no success. The links Daughter_Of_SETI provided hit paydirt for me and pointed me in the right direction. I'll share more on that in my response below to her post.

While trying to find information I did notice this JSTOR article (topmost link), which mentions the "Fifth Dynasty tomb of Netjeruser." However, I won't have access to JSTOR till the next time I'm at the O.I. (October), and though the dynasty is correct, I can't even be sure it's the same man.

Quote:
In photo #2, on the right side of the back wall, the bottom block & then just above the line, there are some glyphs. But I can't see them well- do you have any idea what they might be?


This is the photo to which you're referring, right? Here's a detail of the area I think you mean:



Unfortunately by necessity the photos in the museum's intranet archives are low-res, so detail is minimal unless the photographer shoots that certain spot. I see glyphs but not well enough to make sense of them. I couldn't find out any more details on the link Daughter_Of_SETI provided, at least of that particular spot.

Quote:
How did you happen to find out about this tomb?


I think it was probably within the first month I was a docent there that my boss and friend, Bob, told me about it. He had been hoping to talk the museum into opening the area to some docents, but in the end the museum decided not to. Mad Bob has been at the Field for over 30 years (he's in Human Resources but is a fellow Egyptophile) and is porbably one of the few people on the staff today who's seen the offering chapel in person.

anneke wrote:
Quote:
Doesn't it remind you somewhat of the story line in "The Book of the Dead" by Preston and Childs?


#Rofl That's exactly what I was thinking about when I was writing the original post. Now I'm going to have to be on the lookout to make sure Diogenes Pendergats isn't on the prowl at the Field Museum. Yeah, I know he's supposed to be dead, but you know how resilient those super-villains can be. Twisted Evil
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2007 1:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daughter_Of_SETI wrote:
Quote:
On closer inspection, I'm convinced I've found the right tomb...


You were close, Daughter_Of_SETI, but Usernetjer was Netjeruser's third cousin twice removed.

Kidding. I know, lame.

Truth is, you did it, girl! Applause

When I clicked on your link it occurred to me that Netjeruser's name could just as easily be translated as Usernetjer, depending on how the translator wishes to handle the ntjr glyph. In the museum's archives it's always Netjeruser, but you're right, it's the same person in this case!

The simple plan of the tomb in your first link also confirmed something I had suspected, based on other photos I've downloaded of the chapel: the two modern, exterior photos I showed in my original post are reversed! They were scanned into digital format incorrectly. The entrance to the offering chapel is supposed to be on the left and the niche on the right. I'll correct it in my own archives but I'm not going to bother with it in my original post.

That same tomb plan also reveals that the niche and chapel are at the very rear of the mastaba, which has an unusual layout. The niche isn't on the exterior at all.

I can't thank you enough for finding those links, Daughter_Of_SETI. Once again you're my hero. notworthy

The website in the link was a bit short on information, but I noticed that "Murray 1905" link below the tomb plan and it brought up the full biography, including "Murray 1905. Margaret A. Murray. Saqqara Mastabas. I. London." I Googled that whole line and, lo and behold, came up with this wonderful, thrilling, orgasmic web page:

http://www.case.edu/univlib/preserve/Etana/saqqara_mustabas_p1/saqqara_mustabas_p1.html

I haven't visited Etana for a long time but this is the whole book, free to download, and so while slacking off at work today I did just that. Note that Chapter 9 is a short chapter all about Netjeruser's (User-Neter's) mastaba. I haven't had time yet to read through it but the opening line in this chapter tells us:

Quote:
The tomb of User-Neter (Mariette, Mastabas, DI) lies just outside the northern boundary of the step pyramid, not far from the stone pyramid. [p. 19]


So Netjeruser's tomb is on the opposite side of Djoser's complex from Unis' pyramid and Unis-Ankh's mastaba. This gives me a starting point to look for the location of the tomb, and I look forward to reading Murray's Saqqara Mastabas book.

Thanks again, Daughter_Of_SETI. I am humbled. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2007 10:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kmt_sesh wrote:
Unfortunately by necessity the photos in the museum's intranet archives are low-res, so detail is minimal unless the photographer shoots that certain spot. I see glyphs but not well enough to make sense of them. I couldn't find out any more details on the link Daughter_Of_SETI provided, at least of that particular spot.

I think this may be that very scene on DigitalEgypt. I'm not sure of what part Kat wanted to know, but the bottom block (I think that's the part you meant, kat??) has the following glyphs inscribed on it (I don't know what it actually says, though):



I must be going blind, though, because from Kmt_sesh's photo of that doorway I didn't even notice that there were any hieroglyphs in that section! Surprised

kmt_sesh wrote:
When I clicked on your link it occurred to me that Netjeruser's name could just as easily be translated as Usernetjer, depending on how the translator wishes to handle the ntjr glyph. In the museum's archives it's always Netjeruser, but you're right, it's the same person in this case!

You told me about this section of the Field museum that had been closed off some time ago. When you originally mentioned it to me you said that Netjeruser's name was often written the opposite way, so that's the only reason that I thought to look it up that way. So, although it was me that found the site, it was only because of what you'd told me about Netjeruser yourself. Wink

kmt_sesh wrote:
The simple plan of the tomb in your first link also confirmed something I had suspected, based on other photos I've downloaded of the chapel: the two modern, exterior photos I showed in my original post are reversed! They were scanned into digital format incorrectly.

I noticed that too, but I didn't think about how they'd been printed out. I just assumed that the Field had built the tomb the opposite way because of space (only fitting into the alotted area in that set-up) or convenience (thinking that it looked better that way). I assume they sometimes add their own creative thinking when they construct these part-replica-part-artefact structures.

kmt_sesh wrote:
The website in the link was a bit short on information, but I noticed that "Murray 1905" link below the tomb plan and it brought up the full biography, including "Murray 1905. Margaret A. Murray. Saqqara Mastabas. I. London." I Googled that whole line and, lo and behold, came up with this wonderful, thrilling, orgasmic web page...

Laughing I never even thought to click on that link at the bottom of the page. d'oh! You've found a very interesting discription of the tomb there, Kmt_sesh. I'm sure you'll enjoy it a lot when you get around to reading it thoroughly. Apparently, so it says in that article, at the time when the article was written Usernetjer's tomb was suspected to be the earliest tomb discovered containing kheker-frieze. That's pretty amazing in itself...I wonder if that still holds true now? Idea

kmt_sesh wrote:
So Netjeruser's tomb is on the opposite side of Djoser's complex from Unis' pyramid and Unis-Ankh's mastaba. This gives me a starting point to look for the location of the tomb...

I checked out this link that you've posted in threads before, to see if I could find D I, but I couldn't see it anywhere...maybe you'll have better luck with it. Most of the tombs beginning with the letter 'D' were in the north-western area of Djoser's pyramid from what I can remember (I can't re-check it because the link won't open up properly right now...hopefully it will be back in working order by the time you read this post Very Happy ).

By the way, where it says "...lies just outside the northern boundary of the step pyramid, not far from the stone pyramid" what is meant by "the stone pyramid?" Is that Djoser's pyramid or Userkaf's pyramid maybe?? Confused

kmt_sesh wrote:
Thanks again, Daughter_Of_SETI. I am humbled.

You're welcome! I enjoy trying to find all these little gems! Applause
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2007 12:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kmt-Sesh wrote:

Quote:
While trying to find information I did notice this JSTOR article (topmost link), which mentions the "Fifth Dynasty tomb of Netjeruser." However, I won't have access to JSTOR till the next time I'm at the O.I. (October), and though the dynasty is correct, I can't even be sure it's the same man.


I've got that article stored on a CD. It'll take me a day or so to find it, but I'll email it to you before the weekend is over, ok?

Daughter of Seti wrote:

Quote:
I'm not sure of what part Kat wanted to know, but the bottom block (I think that's the part you meant, kat??) has the following glyphs inscribed on it (I don't know what it actually says, though):


Yes, those are the ones I meant! Actually, you've managed to get more than I could see. All I could see was the walking legs determinitive, and one or two blurs above that one.

Thank you both for the additional information.

kat newkirk
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2007 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have JSTOR at work. I just emailed you a copy of the article. Smile

That will save kat some time.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2007 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anneke wrote:

Quote:
That will save kat some time.


Thank you! Very Happy

kat newkirk

P.S. I don't mindsending articles to pepole when I have, or can get, what they need.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2007 12:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daughter_Of_SETI wrote:
Quote:
...the bottom block (I think that's the part you meant, kat??) has the following glyphs inscribed on it (I don't know what it actually says, though):



I missed that part of the tomb on the website. I realize now that I had been clicking the wrong spot when I was trying to find it. Gees, I'm truly inept. Rolling Eyes Thanks for finding it, lass.

The top inscription can also be found in the antechamber of Unis-Ankh's mastaba (and probably in countless other tombs), and I admit it kind of throws me. The reed leaf and lasso (iw3) is the general term for ox, particularly the long-horned variety according to Faulkner.

The mouth and water ripple (rn) have numerous uses. Of course the best-known is probably "name" but I doubt this says "Naming the cattle." But it's kind of fun to picture: "Let's see, we'll name this one Bessy for Netjeruser, and this one Melba..." Laughing The term rn also means "young," particularly of animals, and the term rny refers specifically to the young of cattle (i.e., "calf"). I would guess the caption just means "the young cattle," but what throws me is that usually the modifier follows the noun in ancient Egyptian.

In the bottom inscription the walking pot and water ripple (in[i]) mean "to bring." Now we're going to get into the fussy part of grammar, which means I'll probably be wrong. I believe the bread loaf (t) at the end turns the verb into the relative form, so I'm going to say the bottom inscription simply states, "What is brought."

We need someone more knowledgeable, such as Aset, to see how right or wrong I am, but till then you'll just have to fall for it...er, I mean, trust me on that. Confused

Quote:
I assume they sometimes add their own creative thinking when they construct these part-replica-part-artefact structures.


From what I've been able to determine they've certainly done that with Unis-Ankh's mastaba (at least the reconstructed portions), but based on the photographs of Netjeruser's tomb they pretty much stuck to its original plan. We'll just have to track down whoever scanned in the negatives and bonk him or her on the head a few times.



Quote:
Apparently, so it says in that article, at the time when the article was written Usernetjer's tomb was suspected to be the earliest tomb discovered containing kheker-frieze. That's pretty amazing in itself...I wonder if that still holds true now?


I still haven't finished reading that chapter, even though it's not long, but I read that part last night. Very interesting. Bear in mind this book by Murray was published in 1905, so it's altogether possible that earlier examples of the kheker-frieze have been found since that time. Nevertheless, it still makes Netjeruser's tomb one of the earliest examples, and that's worth knowing.

The book also noted other unusual features of the tomb, such as the artwork of its false door. In nearly all false doors of the period you see a little representation of the tomb owner at the bottom of the vertical inscriptions, such as here at the base of Unis-Ankh's false door. Netjeruser's false door does not have this. Also, near the top of almost all false doors is a squarish scene archaeologists call the "slab stela." It generally contains a depiction of the tomb owner seated before an offering table piled with bread slices or other offerings. Again, with Netjeruser's false door, the slab stela contains inscriptions and no depcitions of him. All and all it would seem Netjeruser was more concerned with inscriptions than with the traditional miniature "self-portraits."

One thing I've yet to learn about this tomb, and hopefully Murray's book will make it clear, is...where in the hell was the entrance to the tomb? LOL I still haven't figured that out.

You know what else is frustrating? I'm learning all sorts of interesting things about this beautiful little chapel and tomb, and I'll never get to share it with museum visitors. As far as that goes, it's unlikely I'll ever get to see the chapel for myself. Mad

anneke wrote:
Quote:
I have JSTOR at work. I just emailed you a copy of the article.


I got the article, anneke. Thanks so much for sending that to me. I look forward to reading it.

LOL Must be nice to have JSTOR at work. It's probably a good thing I can't access it at home or I'd probably be two hours late to work every day...if I even bothered to show up. Oh, that's right, I'd have to go to work--once they cut off my electricty and I'd have to pay them to turn it back on. Surprised
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2007 3:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kmt_Sesh wrote:

Quote:
We need someone more knowledgeable, such as Aset, to see how right or wrong I am, but till then you'll just have to fall for it...er, I mean, trust me on that.


You got more out of these few glyphs than I did, that's for sure. Could they be just the remainders of a bare list of offerings to be brought to the tomb chapel?

Quote:
LOL Must be nice to have JSTOR at work. It's probably a good thing I can't access it at home or I'd probably be two hours late to work every day...if I even bothered to show up. Oh, that's right, I'd have to go to work--once they cut off my electricty and I'd have to pay them to turn it back on.


When I could first get into JStor I was overwhelmed with the easy availability of articles I'd only seen footnoted in other things, or in books' biblios. I spent the first two months downloading eveything that caught my imagination, and storing the articles on CDs. I soon realized that I had so much reading lined up that I was neglecting current projects! And it got a bit worse after JStor added JEA, too. Embarassed So now I only visit JStor when I need something specific. Yo're right, the temptation is great, and it took me a while to level off and get back to what passes for normal.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2007 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kmt_sesh wrote:
We need someone more knowledgeable, such as Aset, to see how right or wrong I am, but till then you'll just have to fall for it...er, I mean, trust me on that.

Thanks for the translation. Very Happy I bet you're not far wrong! So, yes, I'll just fall for it...erm, I mean believe you. What are you waiting for? Get translating the rest of the tomb! Razz Okay, I'm just joking!

kmt_sesh wrote:
The book also noted other unusual features of the tomb, such as the artwork of its false door.

Yeah, that is really interesting. I wonder why Usernetjer didn't want little piccis of himself inscribing around his false door. Idea

kmt_sesh wrote:
You know what else is frustrating? I'm learning all sorts of interesting things about this beautiful little chapel and tomb, and I'll never get to share it with museum visitors.

Personally, I think that's all the more reason to drop the chapel into conversation with a few of the visitors from time to time. Think of it like this: If one day you're taking a family on a tour around the Inside Egypt gallery and they're really enjoying themselves (as I'm sure most of them do) and asking you questions, be sure you stop by the Unis-Ankh tomb. Whilst they're feasting their eyes on the beauty of his false door or something, casually mention the chapel of Usernetjer / Netjeruser that's locked out of sight from the public, and how you never know, if people were to petition for it to be opened, it could be once again viewed by the public (make sure you have a sad looking face on, though, when you say it...like this -->> Sad ).

You never know what an angry mob of people can achieve! Laughing Laughing
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2007 9:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kat wrote:
Quote:
there are some glyphs. But I can't see them well- do you have any idea what they might be?



the first line:
rn = young, a young one of
jwA = cattle, seems to be a long horn cattle
rn = in German 'Jungtier' is a substantive, I found the English substantives 'cub' and 'stirk' (Brit.) Idea

Translation: a young one of long horn cattle

the second line:
jnj = to bring; to bring away;
jnj.t = bringing (away)

jnj.t is the infinitive form of 'to bring, to bring away'
Quote:
Infinitives often appear in captions beside pictures which depict the action beeing described in the text.
The infinitive is usually translated as "to ..." or "...ing" (ie "to walk", "singing"). The strong verb stem is unchanged, doubling verbs include the both final consonants and both types of weak verb stem have the added ending "t".
(Source: http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/)

My complete translation is:
The bringing (away) of a young long horn cattle Idea

Aset
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