TT148, the tomb of Amenemope .


The tomb of the third prophet of Amon, Amenemope, is in the northern part of Dra Abu el-Naga, a section of the Theban Necropolis. This is an area where the rock is of very poor quality, with numerous cracks. One of these cracks is so large that it resulted in the tomb being given the nickname of "Door of the crack". In spite of this, the location was appreciated by the officials associated with the administration of the estates and temple of Amon, because the view the pylon entrance can be seen and also the pylons of the great temple of Karnak, on the east side of the Nile (see DAIK).
Amenemope was a powerful character, testified by the size of his tomb (and that of his father, Tjanefer), a descendant of Usermontu, a vizier of Tutankhamun, as well as high priest of Amon. He was also connected to some great priests of Amun by marriage (family of his wife).

Unfortunately expressions like "almost all has disappeared" or "the blocks have been removed", etc., will often be found in the description of this tomb, for a great part of the decoration is lost. The interest and the quality of that which has survived, in this historically important burial, nevertheless justifies its presentation on OsirisNet.

 Date and history of the tomb 

The tomb of Amenemope dates to the 20th dynasty (c. 1186-1069 B.C.), with reference of the pharaohs Ramesses III, Ramesses IV and Ramesses V. It was therefore under this last one that the decoration was either achieved or finished.
During the New Kingdom, the area of the tomb became a "sacred" place, and the private burial turned into a private temple where the deceased could worship the gods for all eternity. This is particularly clear for this dynasty and tomb TT148 is a good example.

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 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.

The tomb was inhabited for a very long time, which harmed considerably the decoration, notably in the longitudinal chamber, but the remnants accumulated along the lower part of the walls sometimes contributed to protect them.
The first European to have been interested in the tomb was Lord Belmore, in 1817, followed by James Burton, in 1825, then Rosellini, in 1829. The first summary of inscriptions was that of Heinrich Abeken, a member of the Lepsius expedition in 1844. At the beginning of the 20th century, Gardiner and Weigall indicated that an iron door had been installed between 1910 and 1911. The first publication of any importance was due to Gaballa and Kitchen, in 1981, but the complete summary of the tomb was due to Boyo Ockinga, and was in fact the object, in 2009, of the publication which guided this presentation.

The publication (in English) of tomb TT148, of Amenemope, under the direction of the Prof. Boyo G. OCKINGA, was created under auspices of the Australian Centre for Egyptology, by the Macquarie university and is published by Aris and Phillips Ltd. It represents N°27 (Volume 1) of a set of publications.
The publication includes 149 pages, to which are added 109 plates of drawings and photos, of which 55 are in colour.

This presentation is based on this work, with the authorisation of Prof. Ockinga, whom we thank even more in that he also provided most of the photographs which illustrate these pages.

People who would wish in to know more about this monument can order the complete publication from several specialist bookstores, such as Antinoë, Cybčle 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).

You will thus help the 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, TT148 remains the main source of information about this character.

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".
Finally, maternal uncle : Amenmose "God's father of Amon, tax-master and mayor of Thebes.


 General plan 

The tomb is preceded by a courtyard. The main axis of the internal tomb, as seen when looking into the complex from the entrance doorway, has a south-east to north-west orientation. For reasons of convenience, and to conform to the ritualistic orientation used 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 inverse "T" shaped plan. The first chamber (after the entry passage) being transverse and extending on either side, forming two wings, north (right) and south. A small corridor, which opens up to the middle part of the west wall, leads to the longitudinal chamber, which ends with an opening leading to a shrine/chapel. Also at the end of the longitudinal chamber two passages open up giving access to underground funerary chambers. The northern passage leads to a single chamber. The other, south, is more important, and leads to several chambers. A secondary passage leads from shrine/chapel into the main southern passage.

 The decoration - in general 

Tomb TT148 is one of the rare tombs of the 20th dynasty which had been decorated in painted reliefs and not merely painted. As already mentioned, the rock is of poor quality, which required the addition of stone facing blocks (these have frequently disappeared) and the use of an abundant quantity of plaster, forming a thick layer into which the reliefs have been sculpted after having been thoroughly dried. The painting, however, still doesn't follow the contours of the relief (see bo-50d) and numerous areas of clumsiness and smudges exist, notably in some areas which were difficult to reach. Nevertheless, the general quality of work remained at a high-level.
The bottom of the walls is white and, due to the size of the entry doorway and that of the transverse chamber, the visitor had to have an impression of brightness on entering. The colours used in the decoration are white, black, red, yellow, green and blue, as well as their variants. They were used with skill and discipline and indicate a real aesthetic sense among the designers.

Numerous areas with cracks and fissures, sometimes very large, have been blocked with the help of blocks of sandstone, whilst large blocks of limestone have been used for the foundations of the two pylons in the courtyard. These blocks were re-used from royal temples. On the oldest were found cartouches, those of Thutmosis I and II, but there are especially several blocks with the name of Hatshepsut, which probably come from the Temple of the Valley of the Queens, to the east of Deir el-Bahari. It is known that Ramesses IV constructed a temple close by, whilst 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.


Measuring 14 x 12.90m, it was excavated in the rock of the gebel, which included large cracks, repaired in antiquity. Its west side forms the facade, the north and south sides are formed from the gebel rock, and the pylon gateway forms the east side.
The approach would have been dominated by the now largely destroyed gateway which consisted of two pylons, with a rocky base, preserved at the time of the digging of the courtyard and the frontcourt, and partly constructed with the help of various other materials; their size is estimated at 3.45m wide and 2.45m thick, the height remains hypothetical (see bo-2a). A doorway closed the access to the courtyard.
The walls were lined, but with what kind of blocks is uncertain.

 The facade wall (west face of the courtyard) 

This had been carved into the face of the cliff.
Its southern extremity (left) is very damaged, with a large crack extending to the south corner of the transverse chamber. Restoration work has been achieved, as seen in the photo opposite (red arrow). Immediately to the left of the entry, can be found a recess on the wall of 1.65 x 0.96m, which could have been reserved for a stela (see photo opposite, blue arrow).
The north side is better preserved, and the thin remains of text can still seen, engraved in a piece of plaster. Scattered fragments of the decoration have been recovered, notably a representation of Anubis, which came from a lintel (see bo-57F096).
Also on the northern side, about 3.50m above the floor level, can be seen the remains of a 25cm wide and 10–15 cm deep groove (see photo opposite, green arrow). From its location and size, it may have functioned as the support ledge for slabs of a possible roof of a colonnade which extended across the whole width of the facade.
A round column base was found 2.24m from the wall of the facade, to the left side of the entry, and a second one of square section at northeast corner.

 The entrance to the tomb 

Today there only exists the contour including the associated cuttings indicating the location of doorposts, a lintel, and remains for door installation (see bo-2b). It can be deduced that the entrance was closed by a single-leafed door hinged on the northern side. These things are now mostly obscured by the tomb's modern door. The entrance measures approximately 2.8m in height, 1.8m in width and 2.15m in length. It certainly had decoration on the walls, but it has now almost disappeared completely. On the south thickness remain nine fragmentary columns of the text of a solar hymn, 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) [...]"