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.
TOMB OWNER, NAKHTAMON,
AND HIS FAMILY
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.
ABOUT THE TOMB COMPLEX
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
• 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.