In Egyptology a cenotaph, literally "empty tomb", is a sepulchral monument to a person whose body is buried elsewhere. The term is also used to describe structures built for the burial of ka statues. Such monuments may have been erected for kings already in the Third Dynasty, perhaps even earlier. Cenotaphs of private individuals are attested for the first time during the Twelfth Dynasty at Abydos, the cult place of Osiris.
The concept of the Egyptian cenotaph is not fully understood. The general hypothesis holds that it functioned as a second house to the ka of the deceased in important cultic locations associated with the netherworld, such as Abydos. Concerning royal cenotaphs it has been suggested that they were connected to the official or divine aspects of kingship.
The most famous cenotaph of Egypt is the one built for Seti I at Abydos, also known as the Osireion. Its ground plan and decoration are in fact quite different from an actual New Kingdom tomb. Its entrance is positioned in the north and is followed by a long sloping corridor. The central pillared hall includes a symbolic primeval island. The final room represents a sarcophagus and has an astronomical ceiling.