Definition of mastaba in English:


(also mastabah)

Pronunciation /ˈmastəbə/ /ˈmæstəbə/


  • 1Archaeology
    An ancient Egyptian tomb rectangular in shape with sloping sides and a flat roof, standing to a height of 17–20 feet (5–6 m), consisting of an underground burial chamber with rooms above it (at ground level) in which to store offerings.

    ‘The other wives and attendants tombs were built beside the king's pyramid but were only small rectangular tombs or mastabas.’
    • ‘It might also evoke architectural associations, most explicitly an ancient Egyptian mastaba.’
    • ‘To the east, three of the king's wives had their own small pyramids, with streets of mastaba - bench-shaped tombs - for his sons and daughters.’
    • ‘Together with his wife Nofret, he was buried in a large mastaba at Medum, where their superb statues were discovered in 1871.’
    • ‘At first the pharaohs were buried in underground chambers over which were built rectangular mastabas; these were stone structures housing the food and accoutrements the pharaoh would need in the afterlife.’
  • 2(in Islamic countries) a bench, typically of stone, attached to a house.

    ‘One late afternoon I was sitting with friends on their mastaba, the brick bench attached to the front of the house where much of the neighbourhood's socializing takes place.’
    • ‘Who could it be other than the grain merchant sitting cross-legged on his bench above the shop's mastaba?’
    • ‘Although a parapet from inside, outside this spoil creates the stub of a wall or 'mastaba' the sitting bench as it has become known in Arab Egypt.’


From Arabic maṣṭaba.