If you are not familiar with the reign of Akhenaten and the Amarna period, I advise you to read the general article Akhenaten and the religion of the Aten

The Pharaoh Amenophis IV - Akhenaten decides, in the year 4 of his reign, to break with the Theban priesthood. He orders the construction of a new capital in Middle Egypt, dedicated to the god Aten, Akhetaten (lit. "the horizon of the disk", currently Tel el-Amarna). The city takes shape between year 5 and year 8, with the court installing themselves around the royal family.

Twenty-five rock cut tombs of noble dignitaries of the reign of Akhenaten have been recovered from there. Among them, the one of Ay , one of the most influential characters of kingdom.


Located in the southern group of tombs, the tomb of Ay bears the number 25. It was discovered in 1883 by Hay, filled with a great deal of broken pottery and later burials. It was only cleared entirely, ten years later, in 1893.

The tomb is located further to the west than others belonging to this group; two roads lead towards it from the city (see the satellite views Google 1 , Google 2 and Google 3).
It could have laid claim to the title of the most beautiful tomb of the necropolis by its size and the quality of its reliefs, but today it is badly damaged (the damage dates from the iconoclastic wave of 1890), and this title would more aptly apply currently to the tomb of Meryra (I).

This is why, in order to provide the most complete survey possible, the present state of the tomb will not be solely taken into account, but will mainly be based on the descriptions provided by its discoverers at the end of the 19th century: the texts were studied notably by Hay and Lepsius, Norman de Garis Davies, thereafter creating a good summary of all the information known about the tomb.

The cartouches of the god Aten, represented on the reliefs, permit rough dating of the construction of the tomb: the form of the god's names is prior to the change of these names, which would have taken place in year 9 of the reign. Therefore, the tomb seems have been created before that date.
As with the other tombs of the necropolis of Amarna, it is incomplete. This generalised interruption again seems to be explained as mainly due to political instability: from year 12, knowledge of the events of the reign are clouded.

However, it is astonishing to note the state of incompleteness of the tomb. Being created for a very high status character, and knowing that the time at which it was started should have permitted (as a priority) the finishing of the tomb, it should have been in a more advanced state.
Certainly, the history of the Amarna reign becomes clouded towards year 12, but this should still have it allowed at least three years of work, and probably more, because it is unlikely that construction of the tombs suddenly stopped in year 12.
In truth, none of the tombs located at Amarna are complete: the decoration of the walls often remained incomplete, and in some monuments the main chamber was only partially excavated (as with that of Ay). Only two tombs show that they were fully excavated and ready to receive their owners: the sanctuaries of Any and Huyas. It is therefore not possible to advance a reliable hypothesis to explain this mystery concerning the incompleteness of the tombs. Nevertheless it is clear by the plan that the tomb of Ay was conceived as the greatest and most important, an indubitable indication of its owner's status at Court.


The tomb was begun while Ay was still only a high dignitary. Among his titles, mentioned repeatedly in different places of the tomb :
- "Beloved scribe of the King"
- "Standard-bearer at the King's right hand"
- "Chief of the whole cavalry of his Majesty"
- and numerous common epithets, such as :
- "Friend of the King" and
- "Main companion of the King".

He also carried the title of "Father of the God" (jt netjer) ; this important title is a topic of controversy.
Otto Schaden proposed that it should be given as "guardian" (which only makes sense when Ay becomes the "regent" to young king Tutankhamun), Borchardt offers "Father-in-law of the King". The last interpretation would have made Ay the father-in-law of Akhenaten, therefore the father of the queen Nefertiti. However, the thesis according to which Ay and his wife Tiy were the parents of Nefertiti could never be supported by proof, although the title of Tiy, "nurse of the queen Nefertiti", could be interpreted in this sense.
These important responsibilities were maintained under the reign of Tutankhamun, before Ay himself becomes Pharaoh after his death ( Ay's royal tomb in the Valley of the Kings bears the number KV23, and is already on OsirisNet).

Having lived and occupied important responsibilities under the reigns of Akhenaten, Smenkhkare and Tutankhamun before becoming king in his turn, Ay can be seen as an excellent witness and participant at the time of the Aten revolution and the religious restoration.
His tomb in Amarna is especially revealing with aesthetics and religious sensitivity to Akhetaten under the reigns of Akhenaten and Nefertiti.


This is a rock-cut tomb; in all, twenty-five such tombs have been brought to light to date in Amarna (plus another eighteen smaller, but unnumbered ones).
From the classification by Jacques Vandier, five main groups can be distinguish according to the plans :
- The first three are variants of the cruciform group, with two large rooms connected by a corridor. For example, the tomb of Meryra II, the person responsible of the apartments of the great royal wife Nefertiti.
- The fourth group corresponds to the plan in the form of a "T" with a corridor and room with perpendicular columns.
- The last group is one for special cases. For example, the tomb of Any (n°23), secretary of the king, with a descending staircase, a small passage, a long corridor and a niche with a cult statue.

The tomb of Ay belongs to the "T"-form group, except that it includes a greater number of columns than normal and in close proximity to each other.

It should be noted that the main central axis from the entrance lies neither north-south nor west-east, so referencing the walls by the conventional compass points could be misleading (see the plan, below). But, as the axis places the entrance more nearly facing west, then this orientation will be used here, the central entry axis therefore being accepted as west to east.

The inscribed surfaces are the outside of the tomb, the entry corridor; in the pillared hall: part of the west wall, the ceiling and the columns, and the axial door at the rear on the east wall.

Plans based on Norman de Garis Davies, plates 23 and 22

1) - The Entrance

A broad approach path leads down a gentle slope to a traditional style entry, though its great size is that befitting such a grand tomb.
An entrance corridor was created through the thick wall of rock, leading to a pillared chamber ( view 37).
Only a little more than half of this chamber has been completed. Twelve columns in three rows of four are on the left-hand side of the central aisle, and only three have been completed on the right-hand side. Red lines up to the ceiling reveal the work of excavation in progress.
The thickness of the columns as well as their unaccustomed closeness to each other should be noted; the room is a forest of columns between which it is uncomfortable to move. The only openness being afforded along the central axis, directly in front of the entry, and the first transverse aisle leading to an incomplete doorway at the western end of the north wall.
The entrance corridor measures roughly 2.30m x 1.40m. As for the room itself, it measures a little over 8m across and little over 11m in length; according to the plans given by Norman of Garis Davies (knowing that the initial plan counted twenty-four columns) that the foreseen length would have been of more than 18m.

2) - The columns ( pl 23 detail)

The creation of the columns is only partially completed ( view 4), only the four situated close to the door are actually finished.
These are of the most common type in the necropolis, closed papyriform, and they present the usual Amarna iconography: on the main body, small scenes represent Ay and Tiy adoring the cartouches of Aten and those of the royal couple ( view 15).
The scenes of the first pair are obliquely positioned in relation to the entry, then the following ones are as normally found, at right angles in relation to the central axis. The representations are engraved and painted in blue. The rest of the columns remain white ( view 5 and view 10).
The architraves are inscribed, the abacuses of the four finished columns carry the titles of Ay.

3) - The ceiling

This is decorated in the traditional way with geometric motifs, and inscribed with hieroglyphic text ( pl 23 detail).
It is completed, which reveals that the traditional way to start the construction of a rock-cut tomb was with the ceiling, rather than afterwards ( view 1).
Norman of Garis Davies mentions a wine-coloured background with a prevailing blue bead-pattern, contrasting with the whiteness of the columns.

4) - The rest of the tomb

Two more doorways were created in the pillared hall, one at the northern end (the left-hand side of the chamber on entry), the second facing the entry. Neither of the doorways were progressed further than the rudimentary outer surrounds and only the second is inscribed ( view 37 and view 6 and view 14).

Because no second chamber was provided (typical of other uncompleted Amarna tombs, such the one of Meryra I - tomb n°4), a descending flight of twenty-nine of steps were roughly hewn in the north-east corner of the room. The steps turn sharply to the right near the bottom, leading into a rough cut hole, found almost filled with flint boulders. There is no trace of this being made use of for a burial.


In the Amarna tombs, the only independent figures of the deceased are found at the entrance. Apart from this, they seem to only appear in solemn ceremonies where they receive rewards from the royal family.
In general, the walls have more representations of the king and his family, than of the deceased and his entourage. This is due to the fact that the royal family symbolises the tie between these deceased and Aten, becoming the intermediary through whom they pay homage.

Five major themes are found in the Amarna burials: the royal family in worship in front of the Aten, the royal family in intimacy, the visit to the temple by the royal couple by chariot, the reward of the high commissioners, and the receipt of tributes.

According to E.-L. Meyers, the decorative program of Amarna civil tombs institutes a clean division between politics and religion.
Thus, the entrance corresponds to the passage between life outside and the funeral world. A "political" chamber shows the deceased in his terrestrial status (rewards for civil servants, civil ceremonies). Another chamber, "funeral and religious", contains representations connected to the worship of Aten.
In a single chamber, a divide is instituted between the scenes, according to their disposition in the room: a single theme and composition is developed on a wall, but it may not be directly related to the next section of the wall.
Instead of compositions arranged from various traditional and canonical elements which would be juxtaposed, each wall is considered as a whole and decorated according to innovating themes in a unique composition.
The decoration of an Amarna civil tomb develops a political, funerary and religious program therefore, as manifested perfectly by the tomb of Ay.


Outside, the framing of the door is traditional, but the lintel is damaged and weather-worn, making the scene representing the king and the queen followed by the three princesses, adoring Aten, difficult to distinguish.

The texts on the uprights, either side of the doorway, contain prayers written on six vertical columns, the upper portions (like the lintel) are also damaged. ( pl 24). At the bottom of each is a panel representing Ay and his wife on their knees.
The texts present the titulatures of Aten, the king and queen, and constitute a prayer "For the ka of the good god's favourite, the standard bearer at the right-hand of the king, the true scribe of the king, whom he loves, the divine father, Ay, that he may live eternally.". The phrases then take up the theme of the Great Hymn to the Aten : "The living Aten comes, the one who gives birth to himself every day. The land is in festival when you rise …"


1) - The interior door-jambs

The interior door-jambs are almost entirely destroyed. It is necessary therefore to use the summaries made by Hay and Lepsius ( pl 32A).
The beginning of the texts starts with the titulatures of the Aten and the royal couple, founds enumerated on the outer door-jambs, then the inscriptions contain a speech uttered by Ay, an autobiographic means for expounding his own qualities :
"I was a favourite of his majesty in every-day matters. My rewards were greater in each year than in the previous because of of the exceeding importance of my excellence in his heart. He multiplies for me my rewards like the grains of sand, because I am the chief of the great ones and head of the Rekhyt.
Ay, justified, says :
'I was told the truth, free from insolence. My fame reached the palace, as being useful to the king, and obedient to his teachings […].
O all you who live on land, every generation which is born, I affirm to you this way of life, I bear witness to you of the rewards! Would that you might read my name because of that which I did; (because) I was just on the land […]'."

2) - North wall of the entrance corridor

This wall provides an example of the frequent representation of the worship of Aten by the royal family ( view 40). The wall has suffered greatly at the top through exposure and, as can be seen, by damage caused by plunderers in antiquity.
The king and queen (who was wearing the atef-crown) are followed by the three princesses. Still distinguishable in the upper register is the queen's sister, princess Mutnedjemet (or Mutbeneret, depending on the reading of the vertical sign, 'ndm' or 'bnr'), accompanied by her two dwarfs and courtiers.
The dwarfs, who can also be found with her on the west wall of the tomb, have names which, according to Norman of Garis Davies, may have been chosen in jest : the first, a woman according to the determinative of the name, is designated as "the vizier of the queen, Erneheh", the second, a man, is "the vizier of his mother, Para".

The lower part of the wall is occupied by a long prayer, at bottom-right of which are the kneeling figures of Ay and Tiy. The text once more combines the praises to Aten, in a style suitable for the Great Hymn, along with praise of the deceased, which aims to confer on them the benevolence of the god ( view 8 and view 9 and view 21. See also pl 25 for full hieroglyphs).

"When he rises in the sky, he rejoices at his son; he embraces him with his rays; he gives him eternity as king like the Aten, Neferkheperure Waenre, my god who made me and who brought into being my ka. [… …] The divine father, the standard bearer at the right-hand of the king, chief of all of the cavalry of his Majesty, true scribe of the king, whom he loves, Ay, said : 'I was faithful towards the king …' ".

3) - South wall of the entrance corridor

The inner part of this wall (that which would not be covered by the open door) is taken up with thirteen long columns of text. As on the opposite wall, there is a representation of kneeling figures of Ay and Tiy adoring Aten ( view 23 and view 2 and view 11). They give a good example of the Amarna style, modelled in soft accentuated curves. The faces are rather badly preserved, but the elegance of the figures is noticeable : the play with the transparency of the dress; the collars, bracelets and braided hair, are all detailed with precision.

 The Hymn to the Aten 

The text of this wall acquired the name of 'Great Hymn to the Aten'.
In spite of the present deterioration of the wall, it represents the most complete copy known ( view 03).
Fortunately it was copied by U. Bouriant at the end of the 19th century, before being partially destroyed in 1890 ( view 41).
The Great Hymn to the Aten is reputed to have been written by Akhenaten himself. It describes, in minute detail, the beneficial and universal action of the sun. It represents ten to twelve stanzas, dedicated to two predominant themes: the daily cycle of the sun, and the revelation of the god to his "son" Akhenaten.

Five abridged versions (called the Small Hymn to Aten) have been found, some in other burials of the dignitaries of Amarna : tomb n°4 of Meryra I, n°8 of Tutu, n°9 of Mahu, n°10 of Apy and n°23 of Any.
It is possible that the hymns to Aten constituted liturgical texts, intended to be recited at the time of worship in the temples of Akhetaten. They possess a rhythmic metre analogous to that of western poetry.
A hieroglyphic transcription of the Great Hymn is found on plate 27. There is a full translation in the article "Akhenaten and the religion of Aten".

4) - The ceiling

Although the decorative patterns of the entrance corridor are no longer discernible, the three inscriptions bands are still legible, in part ( pl 25 detail).

A. South text band of the entrance ceiling
This band is interrupted at the beginning (although no text is lost) by the pivot hole for the door.
"Praise to you, O living Aten, who made the sky [and the hidden things?] which are therein. […] His time is lengthened (?) by a million sed-festivals. The Great Royal Wife, his beloved, the Mistress of the Two Lands, Nefertiti, who lives forever and ever, is at the side of Waenre. Grant to me a beautiful burial, as the one that he made in the great cliff of Akhetaten. For the Ka of the favoured […] the just scribe […], Ay, who lives anew."

B. Middle text band
"Praise to you, O living Aten. He rises and gives life to all that he surrounds, who made the land and grazing to give life to all that he created [… …] Grant that he flourishes forever like yourself. [… …]the royal scribe, Father of the God, Ay, […]"

C. North text band
"Praise to you, the living Aten, the God who made this in its entirety. Although you are in the sky, your rays are on the land […] Waenre, whom you love, […] who is descended from your rays, the son of the sun, Akhenaten […]"


1 - Pillar abacuses and ceiling architraves

As stated previously, the abacuses of the four finished columns carry the titles of Ay. The summaries made by Lepsius (Denkmaler III, 105 d and e, and Denkmaler Text II p.145) concerning those of the western pair, mention : "The bearer of the fan at the right hand of the king, the one who remains in the heart of the king in the entire country, the one who satisfies the heart of his Lord, the true scribe of the king whom he loves, the divine father, Ay, who lives eternally."

The architraves are inscribed, as well as the ceiling. The inscriptions represent long prayers to the Aten and wishes of benefits for the ka of Ay, such as : "Praise to you, O living Aten, who created the sky and the mysterious things which are found in it! […] Grant me a beautiful burial, like all those that you make in the beautiful hills of Akhetaten." ( pl 32b).

2) - The ceiling texts ( pl 33: )

A - South band.
"Praise to you, [your apparitions (?)] are beautiful, O living Aten, dispenser of life. Grant that you can see the rays of Ra when he rises and gives light to the entry of your tomb. May you inhale the soft breath of the north wind. May your body […] with graced life; a favoured one who has reached an advanced age with favours; a righteous one who has has done the bidding of his master's words. You were chief among the favourites of the king. In the same way you are at the head of the glorified dead. May you take changing forms as a living Ba in the noble cliff of Akhetaten. May you go out and return according to the desire of your heart in. May your rank be proclaimed on earth may you be provided with wealth next to your god, following your heart according to your desire. May your tomb be in festival every day. May you reach a honoured old age, happy and in peace; and at the end, this funeral and internment and a closeness to the king Waenre
I was a servant who was adopted by his master and whom he buried; because my mouth held the truth. How glorious is he who does his teaching. May he reach the region
(necropolis) of the favoured. For the ka of the favourite of the good god, true of heart towards him who opened his heart to him, abandoning the lie(?) to do what is just, a favourite who has attained favour [then follows the titles], Ay, justified

B - North band.
"May you adore Ra whenever he rises; may you see him, and may he listen to what you say. May he grant breath to you, and may he unite you with your limbs. May you go out and in like a favourite of his. May your body thrive and your name live on […] for your ka. May you inhale the breath of the north wind. May there be given to you offerings and provisions ; may you receive loaves of the King's giving, bread and beer and provisions for all of your shrines. May your name fare well on your tomb; may each generation as it arises call upon you. May you rest in your tomb of the King's gift in the necropolis of Akhetaten, (and) may there be made a invocatory offering of bread and beer for your ka. May you secure your everlasting resting place; may your eternal mansion receive you. May an ox draw you (i.e. to the tomb); may an embalmer and a lector priest walk in front of you, purifying the funeral bark with milk, their number being such as the King Waenre decrees for a favourite whom he has promoted. May he bring you to the resting-place of the elect as one who has completed his life in a good way. May your tomb be in festival every day, according to your plans when you were alive. It is your god who has furthered them for you, the living Aten, lord of eternity, and they are established to endless eternity for a righteous man, free from doing falsehood.
For the ka of the favourite,
[etc.], Ay, justified."

C - Middle band.
"Praise to you when you rise on the horizon, O Aten, Horus of the two horizons! You will not fail to see Ra; open your eyes to behold him. When thou pray to him may he hear what you say . May the breath of life enter into your nostrils. Laying on your right side, may you lay yourself on your left side. May your ba be happy in the necropolis. May the children of your house offer to you bread, beer, water and air for your ka. May you travel freely to the gates of the underworld. May you see Ra at dawn when he rises on the eastern horizon, and may you see Aten when he sets on the western horizon of the sky. May there be given to you offerings and provisions from the altars of the house of Aten; may there be given to you incense and libations from the main alter of Aten by the King, the son of the Aten, who has decreed it to you for ever. May you receive it and go forth in his presence every day without fail. May you receive abundance in the necropolis. May your ba rest in your tomb: may your soul not be repulsed from its desires, but be satisfied with the daily offerings. May your heart's desires be lasting, your heart preserving itself at the side of the lord of eternity. May your name be mentioned every day for ever and ever, like that which is done for a favourite deceased, worthy even as you are.
For the ka of one constantly in favour in the presence of the Lord of the Two Lands, the god's father, Ay, justified."

Clearly, these excerpts are monotonous in tone. Taken at face value, they suggest that the speaker, Ay, absorbed the king's teachings, obeyed these without question, praised Akhenaten … otherwise he kept his mouth shut. Listen to the words of Ay himself elsewhere in the tomb : "I was beneficial because of my closed mouth".

3) - The west wall

The west wall represents a unique theme, the reward ceremony of Ay, by the king. The event is divided into multiple sub-events.

In this, the tomb of Ay is quite characteristic of the Amarna civil burials (similar scenes being found in the neighbouring tombs, such as those of Parennefer and Tutu). The essential scenes are those of the journey of the king and his family by chariot or the distribution of rewards to high dignitaries from the window of appearances. Everything is represented in a great wealth of detail, regarding the characters, the places and the activities. The scene is generally characterised by great animation, of multiple characters behaving in contrasting ways.

The scene is dominated by the window of appearances, with the royal couple and three princesses. Behind them spreads the meticulous representation of the palace. In front of them the crowd, led by Ay and Tiy, is composed of dignitaries, foreigners, soldiers and dancers. At the extreme right, Ay leaves the palace after the reward, received by his friends to whom he shows the presents received.

 A - The Palace 

At the extreme left of the wall, level with the entrance door, the palace is represented in a great deal of detail.
The presentation is not complete because the wall was not completed in its southern part, the scenes of palace should have spread towards the left on the non excavated part.

The building includes multiple rooms: a chamber with large columns, hallways, small rooms, warehouses with servants preparing food, and a courtyard.

The only completed section of the south part of this wall exists on the lintel over the entrance. This shows two mirrored, self-contained buildings, centred equally on the lintel. The two pictures are separated by a vacant space where the sky is seen to terminate in an unusual way from either direction. Beneath the termination, in each case, are two trees (four in total), in which Maspero sees the mythological sycamores, while Norman of Garis Davies describes them as a simple corner of the palatial garden; could it not be a combination of these two interpretations, one not excluding the other for the Egyptians.

On either side of the centre there are two self-contained buildings. One contains two rooms entered from outside; apparently (from the contents) it comprises a store-house and larder, in which servants sit round at their ease preparing and eating food. The other, larger building appears to represent the harem or that part of it assigned to the female servants or slaves; for only women are seen in it and guards stand outside the doors. These rooms were maintained by eunuchs. The women are both Egyptian and foreign, which can be implied from the plaits of those on the first floor, the plaits being a hairstyle of foreign origin, Hittite or Syrian. This harem is composed of two parts including in each case a room with a column and two small chambers. The women are represented playing music (from which can be identified: a lyre, a lute and a harp) and dancing. One of them eats while another dresses the hair of her companion. It shows a good example of the development of the daily scenes and intimacy in the Amarna representations.
These women could equally belong to the queen's household, than just being secondary wives of Akhenaten : it is known that he had married the daughter of the king of the Mitanni, Tadukhepa.

 B - The reward ceremony 

On the right-hand side of the representation of the palace, the presentations to Ay and Tiy take place ( pl 29).

The royal couple and three princesses are at the window of appearances, surmounted by the Aten disk. The queen's sister is relegated to the background, with her dwarfs (unfortunately, none of them can be seen on either the photo or the line drawing).
An astonishing and unique fact: at least as far as can be seen, the whole royal family appear to be naked. For the small princesses this is nothing out of the ordinary, but this was not the custom for the king and the queen. There are no apparent traces of paint, which would have represented the clothes and which could have faded away. The rest of the reliefs are finished, which leaves a question without an answer…

The royal family present rewards to Ay and Tiy. It should be noted that it is quite unusual for the wife to be present at the man's side at the time of the reward ceremony. The presence of Tiy is certainly due to his high status and to her close ties with the royal family as nurse for Nefertiti.
The section of wall carrying the magnificent representations of Ay and Tiy had been cut away by relic traffickers. Fortunately, the block has now been recovered and is in the Cairo museum ( view 24).

The couple are attended by two fat dignitaries, who help them to gather the royal presents, amazingly represented as a shower of gifts, not only thrown from the balcony by the king but also by the queen and the small royal daughters. The necklaces pile up on the shoulders of the couple and on the ground (with other gifts). Norman de Garis Davies proposes these to be an enumeration, for which he doesn't rely on the texts, but on his own interpretation of the objects represented :
  - 18 double gold bead necklaces, at least two with pectorals
  - 2 plain necklaces
  - 5 collars of ceramic faience
  - 6 bands, also probably faience
  - 4 golden goblets, two with a foot, two without
  - 2 metal vases
  - 5 signet rings
  - 12 pairs of plain armlets
  - 1 pair of gloves

This is the first representation of gloves known in Egyptian art. This present is certainly appropriate for Ay, with the title of "chief of the whole cavalry of his Majesty". He is apparently very satisfied, because no sooner has he left the palace, than he wears them and shows them to his friends.
As can be seen, the king occupies a major place on the walls in the Amarna tombs.
These representations develop a festive ambience centred on the royal family.
In fact they loose all religious appearance, since the god is represented as the solar disk which illuminates the scenes. Nevertheless, surely, the sense remained deeply religious, the king, along with the royal family, serving as intercessor and mediator between the people and the sun god.

 C - The spectator crowd 

The crowd attending the scene is clearly represented in small distinct groups, organised in superimposed registers. According to Norman de Garis Davies, the upper register would represent the most distant ( pl 29).

At the top are the two royal chariots.
Some foreigners are represented on the second register according to traditional iconography: Nubians, Libyans and Asians. They are accompanied by Egyptian interpreters.
On the third register are the scribes, soldiers and dignitaries, of which some watch over two small chests.
The fourth register shows the standard-bearers and soldiers.
At the bottom of the wall, the dancers communicate their happy rhythm to the crowd. They are located behind Ay and Tiy (and their accompanying dignitaries).

 D - Exiting the palace 

Ay leaves the palace, whose door is surmounted by the Aten disk; he is covered with his jewelry rewards, and wearing the famous gloves ( view 44 and pl 31).
Some servants follow him, carrying the remaining royal presents on trays.
Ay is received by his friends who are delighted and prostrated. Three chariots wait to take them to their destination.
The group of Ay and his friends, as well as the characters cheering him a little further away, have only been executed in black ink. The necklaces are however drawn in red ink, as have also the bracelets and the gloves, enhancing these remarkable objects, and maybe also suggesting the precious materials.

Above are represented the guards of the palace, to whom young boys bring news of the ceremony.
The guard close to the door asks : "For whom is this rejoicing being made, my boy ?" The boy answers : "The rejoicing is being made for Ay, the father of the god, along with Tiy. They have been made people of gold !"
Because the second guard does not receive the news as quickly, he loses patience and sends a boy to see what is happening while instructing him to hurry.
Another young boy has already informed the third guard, who speaks with a friend and tells him what he knows. He tells him : "Rise up and you will see : This is the good thing which Pharaoh has done for Ay, the father of the god, and Tiy. Pharaoh has given them much gold and all manner of riches !"
The boys are more fortunate than the guards in being able to leave their duties; so finally, a boy makes another look after his stool and his small bag while he goes to see what is happening. His friend answers him : "Don't be long, or I'll be off and keep them for myself !".

These scenes constitute an example of this picturesque aspect of Amarna representations; next to the great main themes previously quoted, there are often small amusing scenes, found in the margins of the main scene but which actually confer a living and varied aspect to the composition.

 E - The door at the end of the central axis 

On the lintel, Ay and Tiy, positioned at either end, adore Aten, represented with his cartouches ( pl 31 detail).
The uprights are badly damaged, only part of the text remains, at the bottom of which can be found the kneeling figures of Ay and Tiy.


The tomb of Ay comprises a typical example of what constitutes a civil tomb in Amarna. Although incomplete, it is remarkable by its size, the quality of its reliefs and because it contains the most complete version known of the Great Hymn to the Aten. Its iconography probably influenced the decoration of other tombs of the necropolis.
It is interesting to place it in context with the other tomb of Ay, KV23 (WV23) of the Valley of the Kings; together they constitute a witness to the Aten epic and the return to orthodoxy based on the destiny of one character.

  • PORTER Bertha, MOSS Rosalind : "Topographical bibliography of Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic texts, reliefs and paintings", Second Edition, Tome IV, p. 228-230, Griffith Institute, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 1994
    Digital version : Topbib
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Web page by Thierry Benderitter
Original text by Caroline Thomas, adapted by Thierry Benderitter
English translation by Jon Hirst
© OsirisNet 2006