Oh boy, it’s been quite a run for Egyptian archaeology. We’ve had the big and spooky black sarcophagus, discoveries of new Sphinxes, pyramid energy focusing allegations, and now a discovery of a tomb built for a mysterious priest named Kaires who, according to the inscriptions on his statue, was the “sole friend of the king” and the “keeper of the secret of the Morning House.” Which king he’s referring to is unknown, just like everything else about this fellow despite his tomb’s insistence that he’s someone to know about.
The remains of the tomb were discovered near a pyramid in Abusir, Egypt. It was found in a small chapel that had been ransacked and looted some time in the distant past. Despite the looting, archaeologists found the statue of Kaires and his laundry list of important roles. Whether these were real titles or just egotistic boasts is unknown, however the tomb and chapel were found to have floors made of basalt, which was reserved only for the most important of people. Here’s the list of titles from a press release by the Czech Institute of Egyptology, and even they had to leave a few out for brevity’s sake:
Kaires was the sole friend (of the king), overseer of all king’s works, keeper of the secret of the Morning House, steward of the royal palace, foremost of the House of Life, inspector of the priests serving in the pyramid complexes of kings Sahure and Neferirkare, priest of the goddess Hathor, mistress of the sycamore, in Cusae (a city in southern Egypt), custodian of the two thrones (i.e. of southern and northern Egypt), as well as a holder of several other titles.
While Egytologists aren’t sure which pharaoh Kaires says he was the “sole friend” to, the tomb is near the pyramid built for the pharaoh Neferirkare who ruled from 2446 to 2438 BCE and that’s the pyramid Kaires was apparently the inspector of.
Now, as to the secret of Morning House and what “the foremost of the House of Life” could be, the archaeologists had this to say:
The Morning House was a specific location, where the king would come in the morning to eat breakfast and get dressed, whereas the House of Life was an institution, where Egyptians stored texts recorded on papyrus scrolls containing their knowledge and religious-philosophical treatises.
That’s right, he was the keeper of the secret of breakfast. Who knows, maybe that was an important secret to keep. What if the king was a picky eater? Maybe he only ate cream of wheat. That’s no kind of fit ruler. Perhaps society would have crumbled if the secret was ever let out.
But there’s also the matter of the House of Life, which seems far more important. Being the foremost of a massive library where all knowledge and religious writing was stored probably involved more secret keeping than being the breakfast wizard. There have been remarkably few papyrus scrolls discovered from this time period so we don’t know just what was in the House of Life, but it was likely on the extreme side of impressive.
The ancients had a certain knack for pompous and egotistical titles that we’ve lost in the 21st century. Go around calling yourself the keeper of anything and likely all that will happen is a truck drives by and splashes you with mud while the driver hangs his head out of the window and calls you a nerd. The problem with finding these sorts of titles in archaeological excavations is we don’t know whether or not these people were just old nerds. Now we dig up their tombs and we assume some dude’s made up titles have connotations of esoteric importance, which is exactly what he wanted us to think. We may never know how important this Kaires character was, but one thing has been true since time began: if you have to go around saying you’re the god-king’s only friend, maybe you’re just the breakfast wizard.