The Amarna tomb TA03 of Ahmes (Ahmose) - Northern group
The Amarna tombs have numerous points in common. To avoid repetition, these features have been included in the article "The tombs of the Nobles at Tell el-Amarna". Its prior reading is strongly recommended because the concepts detailed in it are not repeated for each grave.
This is a small tomb, cruciform in plan, with two corridors rather narrow, without a columned hall. Despite the simplicity of this plan, the chapel was carved with care and precision, but only the entrance and the west wall of the longitudinal room were decorated. This west wall features beautiful sketches.
Titles of the Owner - his family
"True Scribe of the King" "Fan-bearer on the right hand of the King" "Steward of the estate of Akhenaten "Superintendent of the Court-house" "Follower of the feet of the Lord of the Two Lands" "Royal Chancellor" "Sole companion and First of the Companions" Some of these titles are honorary, but others probably represent actual functions. Otherwise, we know nothing of the life and family of Ahmes.
The facade of the tomb
This is not decorated, except for the jambs and lintel of the entrance doorway. These are no longer visible today being behind a metal cage that protects the entrance (vue mm-098). Nestor L’Hôte has already noted the decor (vue Gallica) some inscriptions were almost erased at the time of Davies.
On two door jambs, the text consists of the "Hotep di nesu" ("invocation offering") type of offering formulas to Akhenaten and the Aten through their cartouches. They are repetitive, so we give a typical example (right door jamb, column 1): "An offering which the king gives to the Aten (represented by the two cartouches of its canonical name) and Neferkheperurê-Waenrê (= Akhenaten). May he grant that I place my feet in his footsteps in every place he treads. for the Ka of the True scribe of the king, beloved of him, the Superintendent of the Court house, and Steward of the estate of Akhenaten, great in duration, Ahmes, justified". At each end of the lintel, Ahmes standing renders tribute to the divine triad represented by the cartouches of the king, the queen and the Aten, accompanied by a prayer of adoration: "Adoring the living Aten and kissing the ground before Perfect God (= Akhenaten) [deceased’s titles]".
The entrance corridor
The entrance opens to the southwest. On each side of the small hallway is a representation of Ahmes, facing outward, arms raised in adoration. He has two symbols behind his back of his duties, placed head to tail: a flail and a hatchet, tied together and hung from his shoulder by a strap. On the east side, the shortness of the text resulted in a blank space. It was filled by an overlay of colored rectangles (blue, green, and red: vue cb-0064, right). Ahmes recites two hymns to the sun, which are abbreviated versions of the Small Hymns to the Aten (Texts by Murnane).
1)- East Wall: Hymn to the setting sun
"The king's true scribe, his beloved, the fanbearer at the right hand of the king, the overseer of the front hall and steward of the House of Akhenaten, long in his lifetime, Ahmes, justified. He says: "You set beautifully, O living Aten, Lord of lords, ruler of the Two Banks, when [you have) crossed the sky in peace, the entire world being jubilant to your face, tendering adoration to the one who constructed them and kissing the ground to [the one who brought] them [into being]. Your beloved son, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt who lives on Maat, Neferkheperure - Waenre has guided the entire land and every foreign country in all that you encompass at your appearance, just so that celebration be made at your rising and your setting also. 0 god who lives on Maat in front of people's eyes, it is you who made when there was no one who had made any of this, it was from your mouth that they lssued forth! May you give me favor in the king's presence every day wlthout cease, and a good funeral after old age upon the highland of Akhet-Aten. l have completed a lifetime in happiness, being in the following of the Good God everywhere he went, being loved when l was his attendant. From when l was a youth until l reached the state of reveredness in peace, he developed me. How joyful is one who follows the ruler: he is in festival every day!".
2)- West wall: the Hymn to the rising sun
Currently very damaged, it could be restored because there is a parallel example in the tomb of Meryre:
"Your rising is perfected, 0 Heqa-Aten given life forever continually. O living Aten, without another except for him, who makes eyes healthy with his rays, the one who makes all that exists! You appear from the eastern horizon of the sky just to bring Iife to all you have made- namely: people, cattle. creatures that fly up and alight, and every sort of crawling creature [which is] in the earth. It is when they see you that they live, and when you set they go to sleep. You cause your beloved son, who lives on Maat-the Lord of the Two Lands, Neferkheperure-Waenre, as he lives with you continually, with the King's Chief Wife, his beloved, the Lady of the Two Lands, Neferneferuaten-Nefertiti (may she live forever continually), beside him, to be doing what pleases your heart and to be seeing what you do every day: it is at seeing your beauty that he rejoices. Give him Iife, [stability and dominion]. Joy, and [all] you have encircled [under his supervision]. Let them be governed on behalf of your Ka. As for your child. Whom you yourself begat, one knowledgeable Iike ... : the south as well as the north, the west, the east and the islands in the midst of the Great Green sea are in acclamation of his Ka. His southern border extends as far as the wind, and the northern one ta what Aten illuminates. Ali their chiefs are in submission, weakened because of his divine power. O good Ka who makes the Two Lands festive and creates the requirements of the entire land. Keep him with you continually, inasmuch as he desires to see you. Give him very many Sed Festivals with peaceful years. Give to him with the love of your heart-like the multitudes of sand of the shore, like the scales of fish upon the river, and the hairs of cattle. Keep him here until the swan turns black, until the crow turns white, until the mountains stand up to go, and until the flood flows backwards, while I am in the following of the Good God until he decrees the funeral which is his to give."
This long, narrow room is decorated only on its west wall. The north wall, which opens in the cross hall is fully occupied by the "door" whose jambs are uninscribed and is surmounted by a narrowed cornice.
The wall displays near the entrance, some traces of red paint showing the royal family under the sun disk. It also contains a unique set of 59 graffiti dating from the Greco-Roman period. Their presence is important because it shows that visitors have come for centuries in these isolated tombs and that despite the persecution that attacked the memory of Akhenaten, their memory was not lost.
West wall, upper register: Royal visit to the Great Temple of the Aten
The scene has three parts: to the right, the royal couple in a chariot, in the centre the soldiers of the escort and, to the left the temple itself (vue ls-466).
1)- The royal couple
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They are represented by an incomplete drawing in red ink, that Davies was able to restore from a similar scene in the tomb of Mahu. Akhenaten and Nefertiti ride in a chariot. The couple, whose figures were scratched, have their faces turned towards each other, because they speak or to exchange a kiss. A little princess is at their feet.
Note the freedom of style with which the horses - so important to the Amarna period - were represented, rearing as always. It is undoubtedly one of the most successful scene of this type in the necropolis of Amarna.
2)- The escort
Two cohorts comprising 43 soldiers are divided into four lines; between each pair of lines and at the front stands a trumpeter (vue db-2891). The composition of the troupe seems disparate, but Ahmes, who held military offices, surely did not allow mistakes. At the head of each line, there are six Egyptian soldiers armed with a spear, a hatchet and shield (red arrow) or six standard bearers (vue ls-456). There are also Nubian archers (green arrow), two Syrians with pointed beards carrying spears (blue arrow), a Libyan with a feather in his hair and his particular bow (yellow arrow). The last person of each row (except for the top row), is armed with a stick and curved sword and is clearly an Egyptian officer present to enforce discipline (white arrow). These soldiers are shown bent over in an impossible position, almost 90°, and are characteristic of the Amarna art.
3)- The Great Temple of the Aten We lack photos for this section. Thank you if you can provide us with some.
(davies_pl-XXX) The procession is greeted at the door of the temple by the men of the guard (vue xx-0086) and officials present bouquets and animals for sacrifice. The remainder of the beasts await their fate near slaughterhouses that are within the temple. To the right of a courtyard, on a platform, there is what appears to be a stela with a rounded top, as in Meryre’s tomb (vue sb-81) (NB: I do not understand why Davies wishes to see a representation of the Benben, the solar stone of ancient Heliopolis). Statues of the king and queen are placed next to the main altar, which occupies the centre of a courtyard on the outskirts of which stand smaller altars and side chapels with doors. Other statues are backed up by columns (we have no such picture from Ahmes’s tomb, but we find the equivalent in Meryre’s photomontage). The overall appearance of this part of the monument recalls the Sanctuary of the Great Temple of Aten as Kemp has reconstructed it (dessin Kemp). To the right of the sanctuary are shown two sets of musicians for which we have no photographs.
West wall, lower register: in the King's House
(davies pl-XXIII-XXIV) Only a small area on the left side of the wall was decorated. It is now very damaged. The building shown is that known as ‘the King's House’, the mansion of the King's, a building that was in the central part of the site of Akhetaten. In the general article, we have already pointed out the difficulties of matching the archaeological discoveries with the representations in the tombs, which show the building in plan and elevation. At Ahmes’s tomb one finds the palace divided into the most common division of into three sectors, but here the front part has disappeared and only the middle and posterior sectors remain... Under the hieroglyph of the sky is the radiant Aten who extends his hands over the building (vue ls-460) while the royal couple in the act of eating, are at the centre of the entire representation. A curious detail must be noted: the arc of the sky stands on a mountain at the foot of which are a tree and a bush (davies pl_XXX_01). Davies follows Maspero in seeing it as one of the two sycamores of malachite that grow in the place where the sun leaves the visible world and departs into the nocturnal world (mentioned in the Book of the Dead, § 109 and 149). It is amazing that this symbol of the sun entering into night has been allowed.
1)- Middle section
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Akhenaten and Nefertiti are seated on high-backed seats; that of the king is decorated with the sign of reuniting the Two Lands (Sema-tawy). Both are eating and we note the enormous size of the piece of meat that the queen holds (vue cb-3010/01). Two (and possibly three) little princesses accompany them; one sits astride her mother's lap, the other is sitting on a stool and it is likely that a third royal daughter was in the gap. Also present are various servants, one of whom appears before the Queen’s chair and hands her a cup (vue ls-461). Behind Nefertiti are other servants, musicians and ladies in waiting.
2)- Posterior section We also lack photos for this section. Thank you if you can provide us with some.
After a lobby comes a rear area, which has many parts, whose functions are not obvious: vestibules, annexes, and reserves. As in the temple, we find small tables everywhere laden with food. In the middle part, several musicians play their instruments in what Davies called "the women's apartment." The bedroom of the king at the top left. It contains a high bed, a mattress, a headrest, a footstool and pedestal on which there are large necklaces and perfumes (symbolized by a cone of ointment) (vue ls-441).
The transverse Room
A short passage after the door of the north wall leads to a transverse room with two wings, right (vue cb-3055) and left (vue jcm-27). Two funerary wells open in the ground; on the right, the main one descends ten meters but opens out to no underground room. Both east and west walls, located behind the wells, were engraved like false doors; Apart from that, there is no scenery, nor text on all the walls.
The entrance to this niche, which is located in the center of the tomb (vue cb-3015),is topped by a strange structure. An almost identical door is in the tomb of Huya. These structures would be modeled on the doors of private houses with trellises systems for the circulation of air and the entry of light. The sculptors made a mistake by engraving on the lintel a series of symbols that should have been positioned above: columns, djed pillars, a sa-sign for protection; so they have filled these signs with plaster, but it has fallen out, making them visible again (vue xx_0078_01).
The niche contains a seated statue of Ahmes carved directly into the rock wall. It is very worn and, like the niche, devoid of inscriptions. This is the only time, along with two representations in the entrance corridor, the deceased is evoked in his own tomb.
Specific Bibliography for the Tomb of Ahmes. You will find many other references to the Amarna tombs ICI.
BNF-GALLICA : Papiers et dessins du voyageur et égyptologue Nestor L'Hôte, 20396, p. 289 PDF
CAPART Jean : "Bulletin critique des religions de l'Égypte 1904 – 1909", p. 121, Brill, 1939
DAVIES Norman de Garis : "The Rock Tombs of El Amarna", vol. 15, Part III : The tombs of Huya and Ahmes, London, 1905, 41 pp., 39 pls
HICKMANN Hans : "La Trompette dans l'Egypte ancienne", Supplement aux ASAE, Cahier No. 1, Cairo, 1946
PORTER Bertha, MOSS Rosalind : Topographical bibliography of Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic texts, reliefs and paintings, Second Edition, Tome IV, p. 214, Griffith Institute, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 1994
Text and web page by Thierry Benderitter English translation by Peter Sullivan Photographs by Cau Brualla (cb), Daniel Berrubé (db), Laurent Simon (ls) Jean-Claude Moulier (jcm), Massimo Moreni (mm), anonymous (xx) Plates by Norman de Garis Davies