TT341, the tomb of Nakhtamon

The Theban tomb TT341, of Nakhtamon, is at the foot of the hill of Sheikh Abd el-Qurna, close to well known tombs - because of being opened to the public - those of Ramose (TT55), Userhat (TT56) and Khaemhat (TT57); being less than 100m from the rear part of the stores of the Ramesseum, the Temple of Millions of years of Ramesses II, in which Nakhtamon had served with the title of "Overseer of the altar", in company of his son and his brother (see Kampp map and Google Earth aerial view).
The tomb, discovered by Mond in 1925, is quite small, but presents very original decoration with some unique scenes, notably showing the progress of the service of offerings in the Ramesseum.
The most complete survey dedicated to the tomb, to this day, is that of Davies and Gardiner in 1948, on which the following pages are based.

Special thanks are given to Mrs. Eva Hofmann, of the University of Heidelberg,
for having supplied the main part of the photos presented on these pages.


Virtually nothing is known about Nakhtamon, except the fact that he was "Overseer (supervisor) of the altar" in the temple of millions of years of Ramesses II. Therefore he appears to have been in charge of the organisation of the procession of the priests of the daily divine ritual in the Ramesseum and of the distribution of the offerings on the altars. He was therefore an official of intermediate rank; maybe he had the honour to have access to the divine statue at the time of the daily rituals.
The names of his parents are not found in the tomb. The only family relations mentioned are his wife Kemenaa, his brother Amenherib, his sons Amenabu and Bakenptah. The brother and the first son belonged to the staff which took care of the offerings to the Ramesseum, and were therefore subordinates of Nakhtamon.



Nakhtamon chose to dig the entry of his tomb into the cliff which was next to a previous tomb (Nr.264) of the Middle Kingdom. This one was preceded by a vast front courtyard, of which he appropriated the south part (view ja_02).
The front courtyard measures about 4.50 x 4.00m. It is limited at the base by the facade of the tomb, whilst Nakhtamon had a dividing wall, made of bricks, erected at the front and right side. To the left (view ja_03) is a modern wall which doesn't permit any surveying. According to Kampp, a paving, made of sandstone, of which some remains can be found on the right, in front of the facade, existed. The limestone table of offerings, indicated by Mond, probably situated there, doesn't exist anymore.
There is nothing to say about the facade whose original facing is completely lost (view ja_01). Davies mentions right and left false doors, modelled in mortar, either side of the entry, but this is no longer verifiable. According to Mond, there existed a small pyramid surmounting the tomb, but Davies didn't find anything similar and didn't believe in the existence of the pyramid.
In the rubble of the courtyard was discovered a small stelophore statue of the deceased, made of terracotta. It had been dedicated by his wife, if the written text is to be believed: "The Osiris, overseer of the altar, Nakhtamon, adoring Amen-Re-Harakhti when he arises on the eastern horizon of heaven, until the setting on the western horizon. [Dedicated(?)] by his wife Kemenaa". This statuette was probably in a niche at the rear of the second chamber.

[NB: the measurements given in these pages are approximate, based on the plan of Kampp]
The tomb was dug into rock of very poor quality. It is entered by a passageway 1m wide and 1.2m in length, whilst descending by a step, and having the floor slope down slightly westwards. The owner chose this system out of consideration, so that he could be certain that the rain water, which fell every few years in the Theban region, would penetrate into the tomb and would only damage the lower part of the walls.
The transverse chamber measures 5.0m in length by 1.40m in width and it has a ceiling of variable height (thus not easy to measure).
At the extremity of the two wings of the chamber, at the foot of the end walls, is a flat bench, cut from the rock, but there is neither a stela nor a false door above them, in front of which to place some offerings.
A small 0.7m long passageway is located in the middle of the west wall, so low that, after the original ceiling had been decorated, it was recut to add a few centimetres to the height. This leads to a small almost square chamber, 2.0m wide by 1.8m in length. At the far end of the left wall is an opening giving access to a sloping passage, of which no further details are known. In the rear west wall is a niche which probably contained the statue (which is mentioned above). Below the niche exists a small opening which possibly joins up with the passage from the one on the south wall.

Nothing in the tomb is regular in shape or perfectly flat, neither the floor, nor the walls, nor the ceiling. The corners between the walls are rounded, which seem to have been made deliberately so as to allow the scenes to overflow from one wall to the other, as often seen in this period.
Astonishingly, a burial shaft does not appear to have been created.

 Style of the decoration 

After the often slender and lengthened bodies of the first part of the Ramesside period, the decoration has returned in the XXth Dynasty to characters portrayed with more flesh, with - for example - folds on the stomach. The heads are lengthened towards the rear, and an almost straight upright line can join the nose and the forehead. Later, the head turns into bubble, with a strong nape of the neck, a flattened face and a pointed nose. The mouth, small in relation to the volume of the head, becomes triangular. Both lips, rather big, get thinner. Naturally, there exists a transition between the styles, which also depend on schools of painters who work in a monument. Here, at Nakhtamon, the heads occupy an important place in the representations, just like the clothes, but examination of the photo opposite shows the differences which can be seen between the standing man, with his very slim body and heavier one sitting behind him.

In spite of the representation of Ramesses II behind Ptah-Sokar-Osiris, criteria of the style permits one to think that the tomb dates from the XXth Dynasty - and not of the reign of Ramesses II, as in the publication of Porter & Moss. For this later dating, one should also note an uncommon form of the writing of the name of Ramesses II ("Ra-mesu-meri-Amon" = "Ra has fashioned him, beloved of Amon") in a cartouche found in the second column of the text of the harpist's song (see bs-39468)


Of the original doorposts and lintel, nothing remains.
The decoration on the left side wall of the entrance passageway has also disappeared.
On the wall of the right-hand side, after an empty space where the door of entry rested when open, survived a well-preserved image showing Nakhtamon coming into his tomb, his two arms raised in greeting to the gods which he will meet there. In front and above him is the text of a hymn (see Davies plate XXII-01).
The deceased wears a long semi-transparent white garment descending to his ankles, beneath which is a short white loincloth which doesn't even reach his knees. On his feet he wears sandals. From what remains of his wig, it can be seen that it had tight curls. He also wears a goatee beard. His wrists and forearms have tight fitting bracelets, of which small fragments of colour still remain. At the top of his chest is a broad usekh-necklace. From under this hangs a chain ending with a pendant comprised of the ibis of Thoth with a small image of the goddess Ma'at (Thoth's divine wife) sitting in front of him, both situated on a typical stand. Often (perhaps also here, although not with certainty) the ibis puts his beak on the goddess's feather (worn on top of her head), writing the rebus "Hotep her Ma'at", "to rest on Ma'at". This association between Thoth and Ma'at is frequent and illustrated for example by this statuette (thot-&-maat-sodby-ba), which is in the collection of the Alexandria library.

Thoth and Ma'at

The god of writing, memory and wisdom is intimately linked to the goddess of order, justice, social and cosmic balance, and both of them are linked to the solar god Re, with whom they share the craft. Re lives with his daughter Ma'at, who is called his drink, his bread, etc. He is reliant on her in all places.
There are also intimate relations between Thoth and Re, who has great confidence in him that he establishes him as his herald, his vizier and his substitute. It is said that his peacefulness protects Re: "Thoth writes Ma'at (the concept of truth, balance, order, law, morality, and justice) for you every day".
Because the solar course is not dictated by natural law, nor dependent on Ma'at, it is Thoth, great of magic in the barque of Re, who, in his wisdom, establishes the daily route which the barque will follow. Standing at the prow of the craft, he must also deviate from the dangers, especially in the underground world.
Therefore, Thoth establishes every day, in writing, the standard indispensable to the working of the world of the gods and the world of men, to maintain the order created by Re: "Thoth and Sia are in your continuation and Ma'at at your side every day". Thus right and justice (Thoth and Ma'at) govern the organised universe and weave between them of the multiple links. Ma'at established two norms (Menu): a cosmic norm which includes the exercise of justice, evoked by the bevelled base and a metaphysical norm, evoked by the feather which symbolises the extra-human origin of the idea of justice - it is probably the reason (or one of them) for which two Ma'ats exists in the divine courthouse. There is nevertheless reciprocity: Thoth, perfect example of the judge, puts in practice Ma'at, but this fact is why he is sometimes said to be the "magistrate of Ma'at".
At the time of the scene of the weighing of the heart (psycho-stasis), the good and bad actions of the deceased, which he has done during his life, are placed in a pile next to him. A baboon, incarnation of one of the shapes of Thoth - who is often present on or next to the balance - supports it. The sum of the actions is represented by the heart, which is placed on one tray of the balance, whilst on the other is Ma'at, in the form of a feather or statuette. A second shape of Thoth, in the form of an ibis, plays the role of registrar of the divine courthouse. He makes note of the result in writing, which, evidently, is always in favour of the deceased.

• BLEEKER Claas : ""Hathor and Thoth: Two Key Figures of the Ancient Egyptian Religion", Studies in the History of Religions [Supplements to Numen] Volume 26, p.121-123, Brill, 1973.
• FRANCO Isabelle : "Nouveau dictionnaire de mythologie égyptienne", Pygmalion, 1999.
• MENU Bernadette : "Le tombeau de Pétosiris (2). Maât, Thot et le droit", BIFAO 95, p.281-295, 1995.
• MENU Bernadette : "Maat, l'ordre juste du monde", Ed Michalon-Le bien commun, 2005.


The text of the hymn of prayer proclaims: "Adoration of Osiris-Wennefer by the Osiris, the overseer of the altar in the house of Usermaatre-Setepenre in the domain of Amon to the west of Thebes, Nakhtamon, justified. He says: 'I have come to you, lord of the sacred land, Osiris, ruler of eternity, eldest son of Geb, first-born of the womb of Nut. I make reverence to the lord of the necropolis, who magnifies the sky with his arms. I am a second Thoth. I rejoice at all that he has done. He brings you breath for your nostrils, life and happiness to your beautiful face. He [... ...] from Atum to your nostrils, 0 ruler of the West. He causes the light to shine on your chest. He illumines the dark road and subdues the pain attached to your body.' On behalf of the Osiris, overseer of the altar [...]". This hieroglyphic text, like all those of the tomb, includes numerous errors. On the east wall of the south wing of the transverse chamber, this is repeated and extended; see page 3 for the full extended text.