TT148, the tomb of Amenemope

The tomb of the third prophet of Amon, Amenemope, is on the northern slopes of Dra Abu el-Naga, a hill-section of the Theban Necropolis. This is an area where the rock is of very poor quality, with numerous cracks, one being so big that the tomb came to be called the "Door of the crack". In spite of the poor quality of the rock the location of the tomb must have appealed to those who worked in the administration of the temple of Amon or its estates because of the view it offered of the pylons of the great temple of Karnak on the other side of the Nile (see DAIK).
From the size his tomb (and of his father’s, Tjanefer), Amenemope must have been a powerful figure. He was descended both from Usermontu, a vizier of Tutankhamun, and from high priests of Amon, to whom he was also related through his wife.

Descriptions of this tomb often contain comments such as "almost all has disappeared" or "blocks have been removed". While it is true that much of the decoration once in it has been lost, the interest and quality of what has survived in this historical burial site justify its inclusion in OsirisNet.

 Date and history of the tomb 

From its inscription references to the pharaohs Ramesses III, Ramesses IV and Ramesses V, the tomb of Amenemope would appear to belong to the 20th dynasty (c. 1186-1069 B.C.). Accordingly that the decorating of it must have been carried out and finished during the time of the last of these three kings.
During the New Kingdom the area within a the tomb became a "sacred" place, such that a private burial became a private temple where the deceased could worship the gods for all eternity. This is particularly so for this dynasty, and tomb TT148 provides a good example of the practice.

The poor quality of the stone didn't discourage the successive users, because the courtyard of the tomb has been arranged at the site of tombs which surmounted themselves on other burials of the Saff type (of the 18th dynasty), which were just below.
Besides the situation in relation to the great temple of Amon, the hill of Dra Abu el-Naga (Luxor, West bank) is the starting point of the procession of the Great Festival of the Valley (see bo-58a). It is also there that the Theban kings of the 17th dynasty were buried and, maybe, king Amenophis I and his mother, queen Ahmes-Nefertari. Therefore, it was a prestigious place.

As was common practice people used this tomb as a dwelling, and did so over a very long time. This usage badly affected the decoration in the tomb, especially within the longitudinal chamber. However, debris that accumulated along the lower part of the walls at times by chance served to provide protection for them.

The first European to have been interested in this tomb was Lord Belmore in 1817, followed by James Burton in 1825, and then Rosellini in 1829. The first summary of the inscriptions was made by Heinrich Abeken, a member of the Lepsius expedition in 1844. At the beginning of the 20th century Gardiner and Weigall noted that an iron door had been installed sometime during 1910-11. The first publication of any importance was by Gaballa and Kitchen in 1981. However, the comprehensive summary of the tomb was made by Boyo Ockinga, and this in due course led to the publication below that forms the basis of our own OsirisNet presentation.

The Tomb of Amenenope (TT 148) by Boyo G. Ockinga was published by Aris and Phillips Ltd, under the auspices of the Australian Centre for Egyptology and Macquarie University. It is N°27 (Volume 1) in a aeries. The publication is 149 pages in extent, with 109 plates of drawings and photos, 55 of which are in colour.

This OsirisNet presentation is based on this work, with the generous permission of Dr Ockinga, who also provided most of the photographs that illustrate these pages.

Those wishing to know more about the Tomb of Amenenope can order the complete publication from specialist bookstores such as Antinoë, Cybèle or Archeobooks (note: readers of OsirisNet benefit on this site to a discount of 10% on all works; specify OSIRISNET at the time of the order).

Purchase of the book will help Australian Egyptological research.


Tomb owner: Amenemope : "Third Prophet of Amon", "Greatest of the Seers of Re in Thebes", "High Priest of Mut in Isheru" is a well-known character of the 20th dynasty. He appears in tomb TT158, of his father, Tjanefer, who preceded him in his function, with the title of "Divine Father". He also appears in an inscription of year 3 of Ramesses IV, in Karnak. Nevertheless, tomb TT148 is the main source of information about this figure.

Wives :
Tamerit, "Head of the musical troupe of Amon"
Tamit, "Songstress of Amon"

Paternal grand-parents :
Amenhotep (grand-father), "Prophet of Amon"
Henutmete(r) (grand-mother), "Head of the musical troupe of Amon".

Parents :
Tjanefer (father), "Third Prophet of Amon", "Greatest of the Seers of Re in Thebes", "First Prophet of Mut"
Nefertary (mother), "Head of the musical troupe of Amon".

Parents of his wife Tamerit :
Ramsesnakht (her father) "High Priest of Amon"
Adjedtat (her mother), "Head of the musical troupe of Amon"

Parents of his wife Tamit :
Siese (her father), "High Priest of Onuris in Thinis"
Tawenesh (her mother), "Head of the musical troupe of Onuris"

Children :
Usermaatrenakht (son), "First Prophet of Mut in Karnak"
Mutemwia (daughter), "Head of the musical troupe of Mut"

Brothers :
Amenhotep, "Fourth Prophet of Amon"
Usermont, "Sem-priest in the Temple of Nebmaatre (Amenhotep III)"
Amenemone, "God's Father of Amon in Karnak"
Bakenkhons, "Overseer of Cattle of the Altars of Amon"
Penpare, "God's Father of Amon in Karnak"

Sisters :
Ta(henut)pameter, "Head of the musical troupe of Mont", wife of Djehutyhotep
Henut-tawy, "Songstress of Amon", wife of Bakenkhons

Brothers-in-law :
Djehutyhotep, "First prophet of Mont in Armant, husband of Ta(henut)pameter
Bakenkhons, "Tax master and overseer of cattle in the mansion of Usermare-Meryamun (Ramesses III)"

Uncles and aunts :
Amenemope (paternal uncle), "God's father and overseer of the cattle of the altar of Amon"
Sekhmet (wife of paternal uncle) "Songstress of Amon in Karnak"
Baketamon (paternal aunt), "Songstress of Amon"
Sheritre (paternal aunt), "Songstress of Amon"
Hutiay (paternal aunt), "Head of the musical troupe of Amon", wife of To "[... in] the mansion of [Usermare-Meryamun] in the estate of Amon"
Taynedjemet, "Songstress of Amon", wife of Nebsumenu, "stable master of the residence, steward of the estate of Khonsu"
Amenmose (maternal uncle) "God's father of Amon, tax-master and mayor of Thebes


 General plan 

In front of the tomb of Amenemope is a courtyard. The main internal axis, as seen when looking into the complex from the entrance doorway, is south-east to north-west. For reasons of convenience, and to be consistent with the ritualistic orientation adopted by the ancient scribes, this will be considered as being east to west, the direction of the journey into the afterlife.

The two main chambers of the tomb form an inverted ‘T’ shape. The first chamber after the entry passage is transverse and extends on each side to form two wings, north (to the right) and south (left). A corridor from the middle part of the west wall leads to a long chamber that ends with an opening leading to a shrine/chapel. Also at the end of this long chamber are two passages leading to funerary chambers. The northern passage is to a single chamber. The other, to the south, is more important as it leads to a number of chambers. A secondary passage towards the end leads from a shrine/chapel into the main southern passage.

 The decoration - in general 

Tomb TT148 is one of the rare tombs of the 20th dynasty decorated in painted reliefs, not merely painted. As already mentioned the surrounding rock is of poor quality, which necessitated the addition of stone facing blocks (these have frequently disappeared) together with an abundant use of plaster, forming a thick layer into which the reliefs have been sculpted once the plaster has thoroughly dried. The painting, however, does not follow the contours of the relief (see bo-50d) and numerous areas of clumsiness and smudges are evident, notably in where it was difficult to reach. Nevertheless, the general quality of work is of a high standard. The lower part of the walls is white and, owing to the size of the entrance doorway and of the transverse chamber, the visitor is struck with an impression of brightness upon entering. Colours used in the decoration are white, black, red, yellow, green and blue, together with variants of these. They were used with skill and discipline, and indicate a real aesthetic sense of the designers.

Often cracks and fissures where they occur, sometimes very large, have been made good using blocks of sandstone. Elsewhere large limestone blocks have been used in the foundations of the two pylon wings of the courtyard. These blocks were re-used from royal temples. On the oldest of these, cartouches of Thutmosis I and II were found; there were also several with the name of Hatshepsut, which probably came from her Temple of the Valley (located to the east of Deir el-Bahari).
It is known that Ramesses IV constructed a temple close by, also using these blocks. The person responsible for the worksite was the high priest of Amon, Ramessesnakht, but there is a good chance that the third prophet of Amon, Amenemope, also supervised the work and appropriated the necessary blocks for his own burial complex.


The courtyard to the tomb of Amenemope, measuring 14 x 12.90 m, was excavated into the rock of the gebel [[??]], which included large cracks repaired in antiquity. The facade is on the west side, the north and south sides are formed from the gebel rock, and the pylon gateway is to the east. The now largely destroyed pylon gateway would have dominated the approach. This consisted of two wings, each with a natural rock base, retained at the time of carving out the courtyard and forecourt, and superstructure of other materials. The size of the pylon wings is estimated at 3.45 m wide and 2.45 m thick; the height is uncertain (see bo-2a). A doorway closed off access to the courtyard. The walls were lined with blocks but with what kind is also uncertain.

 The facade wall (west face of the courtyard) 

The front wall of the tomb has been carved into the face of the cliff. Its southern extremity (to the left) is much damaged, with a large crack extending to the south corner of the transverse chamber. Restoration work has been undertaken, indicated in the photo with a red arrow. Immediately to the left of the entrance is a recess in the wall of 1.65 x 0.96 m, possibly for a stela (photo, blue arrow).
The north side is in a better state of preservation, with thin remains of text still visible carved on a piece of plaster. Scattered fragments of decoration have been recovered, notably a representation of Anubis from a lintel (see bo-57F096).
Also on the northern side, about 3.50 m above the floor level, can be seen the remains of a 25 cm wide and 10–15 cm deep groove (photo, green arrow). From its location and size this may have served as the support ledge for slabs of a possible roof of a colonnade extending across the entire width of the facade.
A circular column base was found 2.24 m from the wall of the facade, to the left side of the entrance, and a square-sectioned column base at northeast corner.

 The entrance to the tomb 

All that exists today of the tomb entrance are the contours of it and associated incisions indicating the location of doorposts, a lintel, and door installation remains (see bo-2b).From this it can be deduced that the entrance was closed by a single-leafed door hinged on the northern side. This is now mostly obscured by the modern door of the tomb. The entrance is about 2.8 m high, 1.8 m wide and 2.15 m long. The walls were definitely decorated but this has mostly disappeared completely. On the south side of the passage, nine fragmentary columns of the text of a solar hymn can still be seen, making reference several times to the barque of the sun, to the journey of the god in the sky and to the triumph over Apophis: "(1)[...] life and dominion [...] (2) [...] in the east [...] journey anew(?) [...] lament(?) (3) [...] anew [...] the crew of Re. The priest of Amon, Amenemope, justified, causes that [...] rest [...] (4) [...] who shines in the light [...] the stations of Re; the crew of Re [...] (5) [...] turn back, causing(?) [...] anew; the crew of Re [...] (6) [...] (the barque?) of Re [...] the Dark One, jubilation(?) [...] (7) [...] the sun [...] transformations(?) when he sails [...] (8) [...] without wearying(?) (9) [...]"