Definition of mastaba in US English:


(also mastabah)


  • 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.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Together with his wife Nofret, he was buried in a large mastaba at Medum, where their superb statues were discovered in 1871.’
  • 2(in Islamic countries) a bench, typically of stone, attached to a house.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Who could it be other than the grain merchant sitting cross-legged on his bench above the shop's mastaba?’
    • ‘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.’


From Arabic maṣṭaba.