A false door is a common architectural element in the tombs of Ancient Egypt. The ancient Egyptians believed that the false door was a threshold between the world of the living and the dead, and through which a deity or the spirit of the deceased could enter and exit.
The false door was usually the focus of a tomb’s offering chapel, where family members could place offerings for the deceased on a special offering slab placed in front of the door.
Most false doors are found on the west wall of a funerary chapel or offering chamber because the ancient Egyptians associated the west with the land of the dead. In many mastabas, both husband and wife buried within have their own false door.
A false door usually is carved from a single block of stone or plank of wood, and it was not meant to function as a normal door. Located in the center of the door is a flat panel, or niche, around which several pairs of door jambs are arranged—some convey the illusion of depth and a series of frames, a foyer, or a passageway. A semi-cylindrical drum, carved directly above the central panel, was used in imitation of the reed-mat that was used to close real doors.
The door is framed with a series of moldings and lintels as well, and an offering scene depicting the deceased in front of a table of offerings usually is carved above the center of the door. Sometimes, the owners of the tomb had statues carved in their image placed into the central niche of the false door.
The side panels usually are covered in inscriptions naming the deceased along with their titles, and a series of standardized offering formulas. These texts extol the virtues of the deceased and express positive wishes for the afterlife.
For example, the false door of Ankhires reads:
- “The scribe of the house of the god’s documents, the stolist of Anubis, follower of the great one, follower of Tjentet, Ankhires.”
The lintel reads:
- “His eldest son it was, the lector priest Medunefer, who made this for him.”
And the left and right outer jambs read:
- “An offering which the king and which Anubis,
- who dwells in the divine tent-shrine, give for burial in the west,
- having grown old most perfectly.
- His eldest son it was, the lector priest Medunefer,
- who acted on his behalf when he was buried in the necropolis.
- The scribe of the house of the god’s documents, Ankhires.”
The configuration of the false door, with its nested series of door jambs, is derived from the niched palace façade that became a common architectural motif in the Predynastic period and the Old Kingdom. The false door was used first in the mastabas of the Third Dynasty of the Old Kingdom, and its use became nearly universal in tombs of the fourth through sixth dynasties. During the nearly one hundred and fifty years spanning the reigns of the sixth dynasty pharaohs Pepi I, Merenre, and Pepi II, the false door motif went through a sequential series of changes affecting the layout of the panels, allowing historians to date tombs based on which style of false door was used.
After the First Intermediate Period the popularity of the false doors diminished, being replaced by stelae as the primary surface for writing funerary inscriptions.
Associated LOST Characters
“The Door” is the fan name given to a set of two metal doors, with a DHARMA Initiative logo on them, seen in the episodes “Three Minutes” and “Live Together, Die Alone”. The Door is located below a remarkable rock formation next to the coast and was thought to be the entrance to another DHARMA Initiative station. Yet, when the Door was later opened by Sayid, he discovered that there was only solid rock wall behind it. While the Door was used as part of a deception by the Others against Michael, its original purpose, if it even had one, is unknown. The Door was first seen by Michael when he was kidnapped by the Others and brought to the decoy village. At that time it was guarded by two armed Others.
The Door is located within the Others’ decoy village. Michael was held here for several days after being kidnapped by the Others. When Sayid entered the village however, he discovered it was abandoned. It was believed that the door was an abandoned DHARMA Initiative station that construction began on, but was not completed because of flooding. This is based off the blast door map.
The Others’ Decoy Village
The decoy village is a primitive fishing village of yurts made from salvaged materials, fish-drying racks, and a guarded set of doors, similar in appearance to the DHARMA Initiative stations. The village appeared to be a ruse as the Others’ true camp turned out to be the Barracks. It’s located on the western coastline, north of the four-toed statue, and not far from Pala Ferry.
Michael was held captive by the Others at the village. Sayid later discovered that the village was actually a facade. The yurts were uninhabited, and the Door opened to a solid rock face (“Live Together, Die Alone, Part 1”).
The purpose of the village as a decoy was confirmed by a conversation between Ben and Colleen of the Others. (“The Glass Ballerina”)
The Window Rock was a landmark given to Michael (via the Swan computer) from Walt. (“Three Minutes”) It is located just outside the decoy village atop a high cliff. The rock formation appears to be natural.
The village is primarily comprised of rustic yurts, which seem to be scavenged from other structures. The insides of the yurts match their simple outward appearance. The appearance and design echo ancient Viking huts, or similar Mongolian yurts.
The Yurts appear to be the same ones used in the 1970s by the Others in the jungle, and later their beach camp in 2007. (“Dead Is Dead”) (“The Variable”) (“Follow the Leader”)
Approximately twenty of the Others pretended to live and work at the site while Michael was held captive there. These Others included Tom, Danny Pickett, Matthew, Bea Klugh, Alex, Juliet, and a number of unidentified Others. They dressed in worn clothing and acted as if they were living by fishing. It was abandoned shortly before the Others captured Jack, Sawyer, Kate and Hurley.