Luxor opens five tombs
Luxor celebrated its National Day with the opening of three noblemen’s tombs in Qurnet Marei and two royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings, reports Nevine El-Aref
Luxor was buzzing with visitors who flocked to the Upper Egyptian town to celebrate its National Day, on the 4th of November, which coincides with the discovery of the intact tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamun in 1922.
This year, the Ministry of Antiquities celebrated the event with the opening of five tombs on the west bank of the Nile: three near the village of Qurnet Marei and two in the Valley of the Kings.
The tombs have been restored following damage to their internal paintings due to humidity. The walls and ceilings of the tombs have been consolidated and the paintings cleaned. New ventilation and lighting systems have also been installed.
“The inauguration of these tombs not only shows the ministry’s commitment to preserving ancient Egyptian heritage, but also to providing more tourist destinations,” Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty told Al-Ahram Weekly.
He said that the three tombs at Qurnet Marei were being opened for the first time since their discovery, adding that they belong to three noblemen from the 18th Dynasty: the viceroy of Tutankhamun in Kush and governor of the Southern Lands, Amenhotep Huy (TT40); “divine father of Amenhotep III’s palace” Ameneminet (TT277); and “herdsman of the god Amun-Re” during the New Kingdom Amenemhab (TT278).
Huy held other titles, including “king’s messenger to every land.” His wife was Taemwadjsy, chief of the harem of Amun and of Nebkheperure (Tutankhamun).
Although the tomb is small, it is painted with colourful scenes showing the nobleman greeted by high priest of Nebkehperure Khay and with his brother, wife and children. One scene shows a group of Nubian figures watching his funerary equipment being moved to the tomb. There is also a reference to a temple named “Satisfying the Gods” in Nubia, but this has not yet been located.
The tomb of Ameneminet is a small, chapel-shaped tomb in Qurnet Marei. Although it is incomplete, it is in a beautiful state of conservation. Its walls are decorated with scenes depicting Rameside craftsmanship, which does not respect exact proportions, a characteristic of the tombs of the end of the 19th Dynasty.
The tomb was discovered in 1917 by Lecomte du Nouÿ. A second tomb, of Amenemhab, with which it shares the same courtyard, was also uncovered at the same time. The tomb of Amenemhab, one of Thutmose III’s generals, bears reliefs describing battles in great detail. Amenemhab appears in vigorous fighting scenes, cutting out the belly of a mare, for example, or saving the king’s life by cutting off the trunk of a charging elephant.
The royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings belong to Haremhab (KV55) and Thutmose III (KV34). Haremhab was the last pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty and his tomb was uncovered by British Egyptologist Edward Ayrton, who worked with American Theodore Davis, in 1908.
The tomb has a different architectural style from other tombs from the 18th Dynasty. It does not use the dog-leg construction and has painted bas-reliefs rather than simple painted walls. Chapters from the ancient Egyptian Book of Gates appear in the decoration of the tomb’s walls. The sarcophagus is carved in red quartzite and has a broken lid.
There are a number of idiosyncrasies in Haremheb’s tomb that include a slope in the burial chamber from the first pair of pillars to the steps of the crypt, a second set of stairs leading to the crypt, and a lower storeroom beneath the burial chamber’s annex.
The tomb of Thutmose III is considered to be one of the most sophisticated in the Valley of the Kings and was discovered by Victor Loret in 1898. The tomb is cut in the high cliff facing the valley, and has a steep corridor that leads down in a dog-leg shape from the entrance past a deep well to a trapezoidal antechamber. Next to the antechamber is the burial chamber, which has four small side-chambers. The sarcophagus is carved in stone.
The walls of the tomb have distinguished decorations, among them the earliest known version of the Amduat, traced on a yellow-tinged background and depicting the gods as simple stick figures. The Litany of Ra also appears in the burial chamber.
Graffiti made by workmen can be seen on the staircase leading to the tomb, which was plundered in antiquity and its location lost until modern times.