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The tomb of Samut, aka Kyky

Tomb N° 409 is situated in West Thebes, in the Assassif, close to the temple of Deir el-Bahari ( plan Kampp).
It was dug and decorated for Samut / Kyky, a civil servant of the time of Ramesses II, of whom we are otherwise ignorant and notably how this character, of intermediate rank in aristocracy, succeeded in getting the distinguished honour (and the means of which) to have his burial here.

Many thanks for their photographs to Sigrid Hodel, Rosa Pujol,
Nigel Strudwick, Gilberto Modonesi

This tomb, hastily executed and only half decorated, presents a mixture of conventional aspects and original ideas when relating to his time. Even though the funeral scenes and the solar hymns are variations of simple standard themes, the very special devotion of Kyky for the goddess Mut (his other name, Sa-Mut, means "Son of Mut") on the other hand entailed the creation of original scenes and texts without any equivalent during this period, which makes this monument of interest.

 Discovery of the tomb 

The tomb was discovered on January 15, 1959 by Muhammed Abdul-Qader, who worked on tomb TT192 of Kheruef. He needed a place where he could throw the great quantity of rubble present in the courtyard and had located a very deep pit situated some 200m from there. However, he first decided to examine the pit, which contained a great deal of sand, to ensure that it didn't hide anything. He therefore emptied it.
The following is his narrative :
"On the 15th of January 1959 I began work, and on the third day we came to an inscribed lintel of a tomb door. We continued the work and soon we uncovered the entrance of a new tomb, that of Bak-en-Amon. Gaining access into it, we found out that the tomb, which consists of several chambers was unfinished. However, through a breach in the right wall of the hall, we were able to creep into another chamber which was also full of debris. To our great surprise, the walls of this hall were painted with various interesting scenes which are, on the whole, in a good state of preservation. This is the tomb of Samut, called Kyky, chief accountant of the cattle of all the gods in the reign of Ramses II. … a restoration was urgent because salt had already destroyed numerous scenes."
Prof. Wilson (Chicago University) adds :
"The south-west corner of the tomb was in an alarming state. Salt had invaded the wall, which made its surface hang in patches, and the rock underneath to split."

Since then, the tomb had again greatly deteriorated because of the crystallisation of salts and a poor restoration in 1960. So it was again restored in 1990 by the Getty Institute

It was visited by Prof. Jan Assman who proposed a translation of the two long texts of the tomb and also translated the two stelae at the entry. Prof. Pascal Vernus also proposed a translation of the same text.

 The person 

Kyky or Samut?

In the tomb the two names are inter-mixed, with first one then the other indicated as a nickname. It seems that the owner wanted to mix the two intimately. One of the inscriptions indicates that his name at birth was Samut, and that Kyky is the nickname, which he gave to himself.

His given name, Samut, means "son of Mut"

The spelling of the name Kyky may cause a little confusion. The final characters // O = "sp sn" = "two times" or "twice", and actually mean repeat the previous characters.

Kyky-Samut bears the following titles in his tomb :

"Scribe" and even "great royal scribe"
"Chief accountant of the livestock of the domain of Amon"
, which corresponded to the inspector responsible for livestock associated with the temple of Amon at Karnak.
"Chief accountant of all the gods of Waset" (Thebes)
"Chief accountant of the livestock of Khonsu"
"Chief accountant of the livestock of Montu"
"Chief accountant of the livestock of Ma'at"
"Chief accountant of the livestock of all the gods of the South and North" (= Upper and Lower Egypt)
"Chief accountant of the livestock of the temple of Osiris and the temple of Khonsu and the temple of Mut"
"Chief accountant of livestock"


Samut was therefore a noble of the upper-middle class of the Theban region, who didn't seem any more predisposed than any other to benefit from a decorated tomb.

He had two wives who were of a different social class :
- Raiay not only carried the title of nbt pr (mistress of house) but more fully snt.f nbt pr (his sister, mistress of house). Sister has here the sense of principle wife). She was also chantress of Amon and chantress of Mut (see rp-566).
- Ta-semenet only has the title of nbt pr, indicating in this context a secondary wife. She was also chantress of Mut.

Other people are mentioned in the tomb, among whom are two couples: a man named Sa-ry and a woman named Tauret-hotepti (found on the east wall of the first chamber), as well as a man named Meryra and a woman, Tutuia (statues of the second chamber). Both of these couples must have had important ties with the deceased (or his wife), because : the first two hold an important position at the feast, whilst the names of the last two appear on two the four statues. Other family members and/or friends were represented in the very damaged banquet scene, but their names are lost.
No children are mentioned, without which it is impossible to know if Samut had any or if he didn't want to associate them with his future funeral. This second hypothesis is the most probable according to the decorative texts which will be examined later. This disassociation went against the the rules of the time, another point of interest of these texts.

 Plan and decoration 



based on Abdul-Qader
The plan of the tomb is simple, and compliant to the conventions of that period : a front courtyard (shared with other tombs) leads to a decorated facade. A small entry gives access to a inverted "T" structure, with two lateral wings in the first room. The second room is perpendicular, at the end of which is a niche containing four statues. An opening in the west wall of this room provides access to the burial chamber.

The tomb belongs to the 19th Dynasty, under the reign of Ramesses II whose cartouche appears twice in the tomb. At this time there were no longer strict conventions about wall scenes, and it was not unusual to see a scene beginning on a wall and for it to continue on the wall perpendicular to it, which can sometimes be disconcerting. Likewise, a register can be separated into two scenes.

These changes in style go hand in hand with a fundamental change in the significance of the tomb. The representations of cult activities have yielded to more religious scenes, where the afterlife and the gods now have a central role.
A new vertical style of social emphasis results from this, which for example places the scenes of the funeral ceremony in one or more lower registers, and the scenes of interaction with the gods in one or more upper registers. This new arrangement is very well illustrated within Samut's tomb.

The decoration of TT409 is of a beautiful quality for the time of Ramesses II, although it seems to have suffered from two handicaps: Samut was in a hurry and his financial means restricted.
Thus, the decoration is not finished, in particular the second room is sparsely decorated; but it is more probably due to the death of Samut than that of a lack of means.
On the other hand, while he was fortunate to benefit from a stone edifice of beautiful quality there is almost no raised relief, taking longer and being more expensive to achieve.
The facade, and the famous texts to the goddess Mut, have nevertheless been engraved, but the engraving is not of very good quality.
However, the paintings are in general of good craftsmanship, and preserved the brilliant reliefs, in spite of the salt damage, as testified by the heads of the goddess Hathor on the frieze and also the boats on the east wall of the first chamber.

 The facade 

The front courtyard of the tomb of Samut, now well below the surface of the gebel (see sh-01) is common to several other monuments: Bakenamon TT408; Amenemhab TT25; Hori TT28 and probably to others hidden under the rubble to the south.
This courtyard was first of all cleared from the cliff in order to be able to achieve a facade. However, this requirement had as a consequence a north-south axial orientation for the tomb, which would have to be canonically aligned east-west. This was compensated by the interior decoration, which was applied "as if" orientation had been the as expected, east-west.
The actual courtyard is of a small size (not specified in the report of the excavation) and surrounded by a wall in mud bricks.
The facade thus created (see sh-02) includes a doorway surmounted by a lintel and framed by two lateral doorposts. Above the lintel is a mud brick wall intended to prevent crumbling in front of the entry of the chapel.
On either side, the door was flanked by two stelae which have been removed.

 The lintel 

This is divided symmetrically into two parts (see rp-10-002).

1)- On the left side

It is first of all found the goddess Isis who extends a hand as a sign of protection towards her brother and spouse Osiris. He wears the atef-crown and carries in his hands the heqa-sceptre and nekhakha-whip. In front of the god is a table of offerings. To his left advances Samut, his hands raised in worship. He wears a long kilt and a wig. He is followed of his wife Ta-semenet who is clothed in a long tight-fitting dress and has on her wig a cone of ointment and a stem of papyrus. With her right hand she shakes a Hathoric sistrum and in her left she holds papyrus stems.
The accompanying text identifies the gods : "Osiris, Lord of Eternity; Isis the Great, Mistress of the Heavens". The couple are accompanied by the text : "[…] that he may give the sweet breath of the north, for the Ka of the Osiris, the accountant of the cattle of Amon, Samut, called Kyky, justified. The mistress of the house, Ta-semenet, justified.".

2)- On the right side

There, it is the goddess Ma'at who is represented making the protective sign with her two hands on Ra-Horahkty (= Horus of the Two Horizons). The goddess wears the plumes on her head which characterises her. The god is anthropomorphic, with a human body and the traditional head of a falcon surmounted with the solar disk. He holds in his left hand the wsr-sceptre of power, and in the right an ankh-sign of life. The deceased couple are separated from the divinities by a table of offerings. This time Samut is represented as a priest, his head shaven, with a projecting kilt.
The accompanying text identifies the gods : "Ra-Horakhty, the Great God; Ma'at, the Daughter of Ra", and the text accompanying the couple says : "May he grant me to see him at dawn in his daily course, without ceasing. For the Ka of the Osiris, scribe, accountant of the cattle of Amon, Samut, called Kyky, [justified]. His sister, the Mistress of House, Raiay, justified".

 The doorposts 

These bear, in vertical columns, the classics "Htp di nsw" formulas, which is customarily translated "an invocatory offering which the king gives". It is destined "For the Ka of the Osiris, the royal scribe, accountant of the cattle of all the gods, Samut, justified".
The one on the left doorpost is addressed to Osiris, to Horus 'avenger-of-his-father' (Hr nedj it.f), to Isis the Great, and to Anubis.
On the right, the prayer is addressed to Ra-Horakhty, to Ma'at, and to Thot.

 The stelae 

On each side of the doorway was set, in an oblong recess, a stela with a rounded or arched top. These stelae have now been removed, and only the recesses remain.

The right-hand stela (see sh-04)
This measures 1.30m wide and 2.16m high.
The arch includes a large central winged sun and two udjat-eyes.
Underneath stand Kyky and Raiay, worshipping Osiris and Isis the Great.
The dedicatory text ran in ten horizontal lines. This is now lost, persisting only in the form of some isolated words which adequately indicate that the prayer was intended for Amon-Ra-Horakhty.

The left-hand stela
This measures 1.20m wide and 2.19m high.
More than on its counterpart, it can be seen that the engraving of the stela is of a poor quality, without doubt executed in a hurry.
The arch is identical.
This time the couple worship and make offerings of flowers to Ra-Horakhty and to Ma'at.
The text, also in ten horizontal lines, is also damaged but remains partially legible; it is addressed to Amon-Ra-Horakhty :
"Adoration to Ra-Horakhty. [He is] Ra when he rises in the sky, by the scribe and the accountant of the cattle of the temple of Amon, Kyky, justified.
He says: Hail to you, appearing in your barque. You illuminate the Two Lands with […] Behdet who drives away evil. You rise (repeat), you shine (repeat) and you appear as the king of the gods. Nut makes for you the Nini-gesture with her arms. Those of Mau receive you in peace. The Two Ladies and the goddess Merty give you homage. They praise the beauty of your majesty. Geb and Nut praise you, their children are delighted for you. The monkeys are in worship and the flocks which you created dance for you. You cross the sky, your face is joyful.
The Powers of Pe and Nekhen are your protection. You cross the sky in joy, and the lake of the Two Knives becomes calm. Apophis fell to his (sic!) slaughtering; your knife has cut his neck. It is the serpent, Nik, which [seized]. The gods are delighted.
You cause that I am among the favoured.
[…] for the Ka of […] of Amon, Scribe of the divine offerings […] "
.

 The entrance corridor 

This measures 2.67m high and 1.94m wide.
The outer part, the facade, has already been discussed, leaving the two walls which constitute the thickness of the entry passage.
The artistic craftsmanship is here of a high quality : the images of Kyky have been produced carefully in raised relief and are painted, while the inscriptions are in sunken relief.
Kyky is represented facing outwards (left wall), as if leaving the tomb, and inwards (right wall), as if entering. He is shown with arms raised in adoration of Ra-Horakhty on leaving and Osiris on entering. This corresponds to the Ramesside cannon.

The left wall

This measures 0.80m in length by 2.16m in height.
Kyky occupies two-thirds of the height of the wall ( view ns_494). He stands, in adoration facing the outside light (but does have a representation of the solar god). He wears a short wig and on his chin he has the small beard of the living. He wears a projecting kilt, a long pleated dress, bracelets and a large necklace. His finely created face gives an impression of assurance and internal strength.
In front of him is a long text in nine vertical columns :
"Adoring Ra-Horakhty when he rises in the eastern horizon of the heavens, by the Osiris […] praised greatly by his god, the scribe, the accountant of the cattle in the temple of Amon, Samut, justified, called Kyky, justified.
He says: Hail to you […] Ra-Atum, Horus who crosses the heavens, the Great Falcon who rejoices his continuation, circling his father, beautiful of face in the great crown with the two feathers. May you allow me to see you at dawn, in your daily course.
For the Ka of the Osiris, the scribe, the accountant of the cattle of the temple of Amon, Kyky, justified."


In what appears as a lower register is a single harpist, turned toward the right, singing a song of welcome to Kyky and his wife Raiay, in their home of eternity. The representation of a harpist has existed since the 18th Dynasty, but until Ramesside times, the harpist was represented inside the tomb, often associated with a banqueting scene.
The couple are seated opposite, facing him, separated by three columns of text. Both of them have their right hand folded on their chest, holding a sekhem-sceptre (Kyky) or a lotus (Raiay), the left hand is stretched out in front of them. Their feet are on small stools.

The right wall

This measures 0.83m in length by 2.16m in height.
This has only one register, dominated by the tall figure of Kyky, almost identical in attitude to the representation opposite, while differing in his attire.
A text in ten columns informs us that the god being worshipped is Osiris, although he is not represented :
"Adoring Osiris. Giving praise to him. To smell the land for Wennefer (= the regenerated Osiris). To smell the land for the Lord of the Sacred Land (= the necropolis). To sing the praises of the one who is on the sand (= Osiris), by the Osiris, the chief scribe, the accountant of the cattle of the South and the North (= the whole of Egypt) Samut, called Kyky, justified.
He says: Hail to you Osiris-Sokar, as the Lord of All to his appearance, as you live, as you are enduring and are young. Your father Ra delights in your beauty. It is your mother who created your body, Nut who gave to the world the gods, and shaped you as the great in the shrine of the gods. The white crown has been placed on your head. The throne of Geb has been given to him. He is your father, who discovered your beauty. May you be the one who is in the necropolis able to enter and to leave.
For the Ka of the Osiris, the scribe and the accountant of the cattle of Amon, Kyky, justified."


The ceilings

On entering, the ceilings are seen to be striking be their beauty and diversity of design, and that they are very well preserved. Only the ceilings of the entry and the first chamber are painted.
In the Ramesside period, the painters abandoned the simple designs which represented beams and mat coverings of houses and boats for more complex motifs, certainly inspired by those which decorated the inside of the "chic" houses of the time.

The entrance ceiling

This is composed of two rectangular areas enclosed in a ladder-band of coloured rectangles (the so-called "Egyptian" frieze). Both of these are then enclosed in a series of bands: black, red then again black, each of which is separated by white bands.
The areas are decorated with a repetitive motif composed of a four petalled design, united by a yellow circle, all of which are edged in white. The thus delimited motif encloses a red zone, having at its centre a white circle.
A yellow band separates the two rectangular patterned areas. This bears, in blue hieroglyphs, the text :
"Osiris-Wennefer. May you grant him to enter and to leave the necropolis. For the Ka of the royal scribe of the temple of Amon, Samut".

The ceiling of chamber I


Note: orientation appears mirrored when looking upside down
Also, the drawing assumes a truly rectangular chamber, which it isn't

The ceiling of this transverse chamber is divided into three sections. The first runs along the axis of the entrance, the other two, on either side of this, run at 90º, along the long axis of the chamber.
The central group is separated from those on either side by a broad white band decorated with a simple two-tone grapevine design, a ladder band edges this design at the edge away from the central section.

1)- The ceiling along the axis of the entrance (see gm-05)

This part of the ceiling is divided into four decorated areas, separated and framed by nine yellow bands on which are written texts in blue hieroglyphs. The areas are arranged into two pairs of two designs, positioned diagonally to each other. Each area is surrounded with a thick white band with a central thin red band.

 The two motif designs 

• The first (far left) has, on a beige yellow base (where the original grid lines can still be seen), rows of dark and mid blue circles. The dark blue circles are in-filled with red, with a green centre surrounded by white spots. The mid blue circles are in-filled with light blue, with red centre; the light blue area is divided into quarters by green perpendicular and horizontal lines; while each quarter of circle has a green spot near its junction with the red centre.
• The second is a very elaborate and complex motif, of which an equivalent exists in the tomb TT50 of the Divine Father Neferhotep. The designs are also present on the walls of the statue niche in the tomb TT296 of Nefersekheru. Some blue, yellow and red horizontal bands are interrupted with floral compositions with an elegant alternations of open blue lotus flowers, and red and blue flowers.

 The texts  (see negm-6)

The texts of the three main columns are all of type "Htp di nsw" (an invocatory offering which the king gives to such or such divinity). All the texts are written in column format starting at the entrance end. The orientation is when looking at the ceiling and with one's back to the entrance.
• Left column : "An invocatory offering which the king gives to Amon-Ra, Lord of the thrones of the Two Lands opposite Karnak, Lord of the heavens, Ruler of Thebes. May you give offerings (constituting of) bread, beer, cattle, game, libation and incense and all good pure things for the Ka of the Osiris, the scribe, chief accountant of the cattle of all gods of the South and the North, Kyky, justified".
• Middle column : "An invocatory offering which the king gives to Osiris-Khentymentiu. May you provide the leaving and entering in the necropolis. (Also to) Anubis, Lord of the Sacred Land, the Great God, Lord of the heavens, and all the Gods of the West; and to Ptah-Sokar in his shetyt-shrine. May they give bread, incense, wine, milk, and a soft breath for the Osiris, great royal scribe, chief accountant of the cattle of Amon, Kyky".
• Right column : "An invocatory offering which the king gives to Mut, Lady of the Isheru, Mistress of all the Gods. May she transfer the profit of the offerings of these Lords of Eternity to the profit of the Ka of the Osiris, praised by his Lord. The scribe, accountant of the cattle, Kyky, justified".
It is necessary here to understand "transfer" in the banking sense of the term: the offerings are presented by the king, to the gods, for Kyky; and it on them to restore them to him.
• The six transverse texts all contain the name and titles of Kyky. The texts are again written in column form, starting against the long middle band.

2)- The ceilings of the right and left ends of chamber I

Both of the zones are again based on a system of four rectangular design areas of two actual motifs. This time they are grouped with one pair being nearest the entry axis and the other pair at the end of the long axis of the chamber (see drawing above). Both of the motif designs are standard geometric patterns found in other tombs. The rectangular areas are separated by four yellow bands on which are written texts in blue hieroglyphs. The text band which runs in the direction of the chamber's axis is edged by red and blue lines on a white background; a ladder band then separates these from the design areas. The outer edge of the left and right zones is surrounded by a white band with red and blue lines. The other two text bands run at 90º to the central band, on either side of it.

 The two motif designs 

• The first (far left) is based on a series of alternating yellow-ochre and white squares containing a simple flower design with four petals, arranged corner to corner around a central coloured spot. In the yellow squares the petals are black and the centre is red. In the white squares the petals are red and, the centre is black.
• The second is again based on a series of alternating yellow-ochre and white squares, but which are edged in thin red lines. The yellow squares contain a simply designed bunch of grapes, placed diagonally. In the white squares is a simple flower design with four black petals, arranged edge to edge around a central red spot (see rp-577).

 The texts  (see negm-3 and negm-5)

All the texts are written in column format.
• The main text of the two side zones runs centrally along the main axis of the chamber and starts at the end nearest the central zone. They again contain the usual "invocatory offering" text. This time, however, they finish : "...., Samut, called Kyky".
• The lateral texts contain the name/s and titles of the deceased. The all commence at the end closest to the main text.

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