Horemheb, of non-royal origin, began his military career during the reign of Akhenaten. A brilliant soldier, he ascended quickly in the hierarchy and became a General, then General-in-chief. His military career continued under the reign of Tutankhamun, during whom it is extremely probable that he exercised the reality of power. In the confusion of the post-Amarna period, and under the reign of a child-king, it is very probable that the cohesion of the country and the stability of its borders rested largely on him.
Nevertheless, he was unable to seize power for himself at the death of Tutankhamun, and had to let the old man Ay ascend to the throne for a few years.
With this ones death, Horemheb was finally able to take up the Double-crown.
The civil tomb which Horemheb had construct for himself at Saqqara was re-discovered there a few years ago by G. T. Martin. Fragments were already known from the Museum of Leiden, as with that of Berlin.
With him, the power passed to the military. The events of the Amarna period were erased, the Theban cult of Amun recovers its pre-eminence.
Djeser-Kheperu-Ra (approx. 1323-1295 B.C.) was classically regarded as the last Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty. In fact, he constitutes the beginning of the 19th Dynasty, and one can even to say that he constitutes a dynasty totally to himself.
Not having had children, he will choose his faithful comrade-in-arms, Pa-Ramessu (the future Ramesses I) to succeed to him, having already conceived the grandeur of a son, that of the future Sethy I.
| THE ROYAL
TOMB, KV 57 - GENERAL VIEW
The entrance to the tomb was discovered by Davis and his
co-worker Edward R. Ayrton on the 25th February 1908.
This is the most innovative realisation which
Horemheb left in Thebes.
His plan conjugates a
change in axis, such as at the beginning of the dynasty,
with the rectilinear plan of Amarna tombs. It measures
approximately 110m. in total length, and the floor
of the Sarcophagus Chamber is some 30m. below that
of the entry. It progresses almost due north from
the entry stairs to the Burial Chamber, the only deviation
being in the two-pillared hall just beyond the Well
Chamber. Here the stairway leading to the lower levels
is offset to the west (against the west wall) but
progress is almost parallel to the upper stairways
The Burial Chamber consists of two levels, the first,
upper level, being a six-pillared hall. This leads
to the lower level, the actual resting place of the
sarcophagus. From off these two sections are a total
of nine annexes, the furthest (most northerly) being
only partially excavated.
of the tomb, which in part uses raised relief work
on a base of blue paint, is of a high quality (where
completed), the only completed areas being the Well
Chamber and the Antechamber. The Burial chamber (both
sections) has been left in an unfinished state. One
finds these walls inscribed with the first copy of
the "Book of Gates", where monumental gates punctuate
every hour of the night, a new concept of the nocturnal
journey of the sun.
It is uncertain as to which
of the annexes (if any) would have eventually contained
decoration. It is fairly certain that none of the
corridors or stairways would have done so.
speculation exists to explain why the tomb decoration
was not completed, as it appears as if the workmen
finished on one day as if to return the following.
The lower levels of the tomb were not even cleared
of building debris before Horemheb was placed in the
The explanation that the king's sudden
death could be the cause is invalid on several grounds:
Horemheb was probably about 80 years old and so his
death could not have been a surprise, the 70 day period
of mummification would have allowed planning of what
to complete (or at least to have cleared the rubble).
The incomplete state does however provide us with
the opportunity to follow the stages of decoration
from initial artwork to its final form.
tomb had been broken into in antiquity. Besides having
dug through the infill of the upper corridors and
stairways leading to the Well Chamber, the robbers
also broke through the far wall of this room, gaining
access to the lower portion of the tomb. The robbers
obviously not being fooled by the hastily blocked
and decorated rear wall.
On its discovery
by Davis, the tomb was found to still contain several
items of interest. These included a red granite sarcophagus
and a calcite canopic chest. There were also several
wooden figures of gods, as well as two life-size wood
statues of the king, reminiscent of those found in
the Tutankhamen's tomb, but without gilding. The excavators
discovered in the room, known as the Osiris room,
the bones of two women and in the Sarcophagus Chamber,
those of two other women and a man. In the sarcophagus
were found remains, which Davis could not identify,
belonging to a man or a woman. The mummy of Horemheb
was not found and has still not been identified.
The decoration within this tomb is organised as follows:
• Entry Corridors and Stairways
(A-D) : undecorated.
• Well Chamber
(E) : Scenes with the Gods.
Pillared Hall (F) : undecorated.
Corridor and Stairways (G-H) : undecorated.
• Antechamber (I) : Scenes with the Gods.
• Entry to Burial Chamber : The Goddess
• Burial Chamber - Pillared
Hall (J1) : Book of Gates.
Chamber - Sarcophagus Chamber (J1) : Book of Gates.
• Western Annexes (K-N) : M ("Osiris Room")
partially, else undecorated.
Annexes (O-Q) : undecorated.
Annexes (R-S) : undecorated.
| Entry Corridors and Stairways - A-D
The entrance to the tomb is down a steep flight of steps (A),
which passes under an unusually deep overhang.
This flight of steep step leads, through a modern gateway,
into a moderately inclined corridor (B).
This is followed by yet another steep stairway (C)
of 25 steps, bounded on both sides by a long narrow
(0.5m wide) shelf or elongated niche,
extending almost to the large (1.5m) overhang,
which reduces the height of the ceiling.
Yet another steep corridor (D)
finally leads into a "Well Chamber" (E).
The journey of over 45 metres has descended to a depth
of nearly 20 metres.
These entry stairways and corridors are completely
undecorated, which will not be the case in tomb of
Sethy I, only a few years later.
The threshold and entry floor to this chamber, from
corridor D, are level.
This chamber has a well
shaft, from which it gets it name, its original purpose
is still uncertain and may have been symbolically
connected to Nun and the primordial ocean. If it was
only intended to be a safeguard against the rare but
violent rains, then the room reported by the excavators
at the bottom of the shaft would be strange. If it
was there to help deter tomb robbers, it was obviously
The chamber is 4.16m wide by 3.37m
in length. The ceiling is 2.39m above what would be
floor level, while the well shaft is approximately
4m below this level, and still partially filled with
debris. This chamber is actually rotated by nearly
3° to the left (west), creating the first change of
Initially the northern (far) wall of this
chamber was was sealed immediately after the burial
of Horemheb. The thin wall was covered with stucco
and quickly painted, the resultant artwork not being
up to the same standard as the other walls. This wall
was breached, and the artwork partly destroyed, by
the ancient robbers.
The Well chamber, and the later
Antechamber (I), is decorated by scenes of Horemheb
with the Gods. Although these scenes have been present
in the Well Chamber of previous royal tombs, with
Horemheb we observe a new development, that of implementing
the images in relief. The relief work is especially
seen in the faces. The clear, bright and vibrant colours
are such that they are not matched again, even in
the tomb of Sethy I.
All the walls are headed
by a kheker-frieze surmounting an ornamental multicoloured
band of blue, red, green, yellow, black and white,
which also vertically finishes each wall. Under this
band, at the top of each wall, is the hieroglyphic
symbol for the sky, extending the length of the wall
as a stripe of light blue stars and a dark blue background.
It is supported at each end by a tall Was-sceptre.
The kheker-frieze is not the usual dagger-form (which
is only found in the doorway between the Antechamber
and the Burial Chamber), but has a splayed top holding
a further yellow disk, which could possibly be interpreted
as a "sun disk". The bottom edge of the scenes is
separated from the black base of the walls by two
broad yellow and red horizontal bands, separated by
a thin black lines.
The ceiling, now badly damaged,
was decorated with dark yellow (gold) stars on a dark
Progressing in an clockwise direction, starting
at the left hand side of the south wall, next to the
entrance (view w01
Front (south) wall - left
On a shrine reclines the dog-shaped form of a jackal,
Anubis. On his back is a flail and about his neck
the hieroglyph for "protection".
1) Horus (Harsesis) presents Horemheb to Isis. The
king wears a richly embellished kilt with a triangular
front piece, the regal Nemes-headdress (as elsewhere
in the tomb) and displays a kingly beard and bull-tail.
Horus wears the double-crown on his wig, Isis wears
the headdress of Hathor, a plain pinafore dress with
a feather design, in her hands she holds a Was-sceptre
(the sign of power) and an Ankh (the sign of life),
respectively; Horus holds both these symbols in one
hand, whilst his other hand rests on Horemheb's shoulder.
The deities offer Horemheb protection.
2) The king wearing a short, un-embellished kilt with
a centre piece, offers wine-vessels to Hathor (as
Goddess of the West). In addition to an ornamentally
patterned pinafore dress, the goddess wears the hieroglyph
for "West" on her black wig. She holds the usual symbols
in her hands. This scene is very damaged, but readable.
wearing the same attire as he did before Isis, stands
in 4-fold adoration, but with his arms hanging down,
before Osiris-Wennefer, who has a green skin colour
and stands on a blue Ma'at base. Osiris has his fists
clenched and raised in front of his chest, holding
a crook and a flail, he wears an Atef-crown (a white
crown, framed by ostrich feathers). The king wears
the straight beard, the god the bent ceremonial beard.
In return for his worship, Osiris offers Horemheb
the gift of life.
Rear (north) wall -
Horus (Harsesis). This badly damaged (and nearly totally
missing) section, probably contained Horemheb before
the Triad of Gods (Horus, Anubis and Osiris).
Progressing in an anticlockwise direction, starting at the right hand side
of the south wall, next to the entrance (view w04
The east wall is almost a mirror copy of the west
Front (south) wall - right
between Horus (Harsesis) and Hathor (as Goddess of
the West). In this scene, Horemheb is dressed as in
the meetings with Isis and Osiris on the west wall,
Horus wears a long sleeveless shirt, Hathor wears
a splendid sleeveless dress, completely covered with
feathers and wings. Neither of the deities carry the
usual symbols, although both make promises to Horemheb.
Right (east) wall
1) Horus (Harsesis) presents Horemheb to Isis. The
scene closely resembles that on the opposite (west)
wall. Horemheb and Horus wears the same clothing,
however, Horus does not have a tail attached to his
kilt this time. Isis is completely different. Here,
Isis wears her name hieroglyph instead of the Hathor-horns,
a black wig instead of the blue strand-wig and a change
of dress. As before with this trio, only Isis carries
the symbols. Isis grants Horemheb "the throne of Osiris
in order to be in peace".
2) The king offering wine to Hathor matches that
of the west wall. Horemheb is dressed as on
the west wall, however, Hathor is represented
in her usual manifestation, with cow's horns
and solar-disk. She wears a plain white sleeveless
dress and this time a blue and black striped
wig. She carries the usual symbols in her hands.
Hathor offers him protection. (view sb_08).
3) The king before Osiris-Wennefer is almost identical in detail with the west wall image. The only real difference is the design of Horemheb's upper arm bracelets.
Rear (north) wall - right
Originally, Horemheb (now missing) probably stood before
the this Triad of Gods (Horus, Anubis and Osiris).
Osiris, dressed as in the other instances and with the
same colour skin, now sits on a richly embellished throne,
on the side of which is the symbol of the union of Upper
and Lower Egypt. The throne stands on a blue Ma'at base
which is covered by a mat.
Horus wears the long blue shirt as at the beginning of
this side of the chamber, while Anubis wears a blue wig,
sleeveless shirt and short kilt.
Just in front of the Ma'at base, under Osiris,
can be seen the foot of Horemheb, the rest of this figure
has been destroyed.
General note about the scenes
There is a noticeable absence of Amon or Amon-Ra from these scenes, which also applies to those of the Antechamber. It would be to the end 19th and the 20th Dynasty before Amon regains some favour among the funerary deities in the tombs.
The chamber is 6.88m wide by 7.53m in length, with
a height of 2.72m, and has yet a further 4° change
Two pillars, approximately 1m square,
straddle the current axis of the tomb to this point.
However, the axis deviates at this chamber, the exit
to the lower levels being by a stairway, cut into
the floor and located against the west (left) wall,
starting between the wall and the leftmost pillar.
The room has no decoration, and the fragments containing
stars on a dark blue background, found by the excavators,
belong to the Well Chamber.
| Corridor and Stairways - G-H
The stairway, of 16 steps, exiting the Upper Pillared Hall
begins a second offset axis to the tomb.
Although close to parallel with the original,
the axis is now nearly 7° to the west.
This connects to corridor (G), then another stairway (H),
of 12 steps, before entering the Antechamber (I).
The last stairway changes the axis for the last time,
rotating back to that of the Well Chamber,
nearly 3° west of the entry corridors and stairways.
This stairway is bounded on both sides by a long narrow
(0.25m wide) shelf.
The total length of this set of two stairways and a corridor
is about 21 metres and descends a further 8 metres.
and are completely undecorated.
The chamber is 4.12m wide by 5.21m in length and 2.66m in height. We are now approximately 28 metres below the level of the entrance.
This chamber was once closed at either end by wooden doors, as the depressions for door hinges show, remnants of the sealing plaster is still in place at the entry doorway.
The exit (to the Burial Chamber - Pillared Hall) is of a compound construct, the thicknesses on the Antechamber side being decorated, the Burial chamber side being that for the door.
The lintel has suffered structural damage and is barely present
Like the Well Chamber (E), the Antechamber is decorated by scenes of Horemheb with the Gods.
This time there is an increase in the number of actual scenes. The relief work, and clear, bright and vibrant colours as before is exceptional.
Again the walls are headed by a kheker-frieze surmounting an ornamental multicoloured band, vertically ending each wall.
The hieroglyphic symbol for the sky, extending the length of the wall as a stripe of light blue stars and a dark blue background is also present, supported by a pair of Was-sceptres.
The bottom edge of the scenes again has the two broad yellow and red horizontal bands, separated by a thin black lines.
The ceiling, once badly damaged but the greater part now being modern restoration, was decorated with dark yellow (gold) stars on a black background.
The ceiling still shows a fine network of white lines.
The change from the Well Chamber dark blue to black probably signifies being closer to the underworld.
The scenes are as follows, progressing in an clockwise direction, starting at the left hand side of the south wall, next to the entrance (views a01 then a02).
South wall (left)
The king, wearing a plain kilt with a centre piece, is greeted and embraced by Hathor. She carries the sign of the West on her head and wears a sleeveless red dress.
West Wall (vues unidia_35604 and cd_16)
1) This time the king, wearing his usual kilt, is approached by Anubis, with the body of a man and head of a jackal, who offers him protection. Anubis holds a Was-sceptre (the sign of power) and an Ankh (the sign of life) in his hands
2) Horemheb, wearing the kilt with a centre piece but of a different colour, then offers wine to Isis, who is wearing the two horns and solar disk on her
head; she in return offers him the "regalness of Wennefer (Osiris)". Her dress is similar to that worn by Hathor. She holds the Was-sceptre and Ankh in her
3) The king, again with a change of kilt, is next in the presence of Horus (Harsiesis) and worships him the customary 4 times for the granting of "rising like Ra, in the sky". Horus wears his usual attire, with sleeveless shirt and kilt and carrying the two usual symbols.
4) Next, Horemheb offers wine to Hathor as Goddess of the West, wearing the black wig, which always carries the symbol of the West in this tomb, a pointer to death and the underworld. In return Hathor grants him "the throne of Osiris, eternally". She also carries the two symbols.
5) Horemheb, in the richly embellished kilt with a front-piece, then stands in worship before Osiris. The God stands on the blue Ma'at plinth in his usual mummified form, his hands crossed in front of him, holding the crook and flail (view unidia_35614).
Rear (north) wall - left
The king, in the same kilt as before Osiris, sacrificially stands in front of
Ptah, his green-painted body is wrapped into the usual close-fitting garment
and characteristic blue cap. The extended hands of Ptah hold a combined Was and
Djed sceptre. The god stands on the Ma'at base, in front of a large Djed-pillar
(which is a counter-balance to the "Isis-blood" symbol on the opposite right
rear wall). The uppermost part of the king and part of the writings was found
to be badly destroyed at the time of the discovery of the tomb, and was partially
restored in 1934, using some of the dislodged fragments.
Progressing in an anticlockwise direction, starting at the right hand side of the south wall, next to the entrance:
(view a04 then a03)
Front (south) wall - right
As in the Well
Chamber, this side of the chamber begins with Horus
(Harsiesis) presenting Horemheb to Hathor and making
promises to him. However, this time Horus is in his
usual sleeveless shirt and kilt, Horemheb wears his
white kilt with the centre piece and Hathor wears
a plain red sleeveless dress and a black wig. She
displays, as previous, the sign for the West on her
head. Also as before, neither of the gods are holding
the Ankh or Was-sceptre. (See detail in view sb_29).
Right (east) wall (view cd_34-35 and view unidia_fusion).
As in the Well Chamber, the east wall is almost a
mirror copy of the west wall. The major difference
being that Horemheb offers the wine to the male deities
not the female. Again all the deities carry the Was-sceptre
and Ankh, except Osiris, who holds the crook and flail
to his chest.
1) The king, wearing his usual kilt, offers wine to Anubis, who offers him protection.
2) Horemheb, wearing the kilt with a centre piece but of an ochre colour, meets with Isis, who has her normal name hieroglyph on top of her black wig. Her dress is plain, white and sleeveless. He worships her the customary 4 times, so that she will "treat him like Ra".
3) The king, again with a change of kilt, is
next in the presence of Horus (Harsiesis) and
presents him with wine. Horus in turn grants
him "the throne of his father Osiris".
4)Horemheb now passes into the presence of
Hathor, wearing her horns and solar disk on
top of the blue and black striped wig. Again
the 4-fold worship, and a promise of "an eternity
5) The king, in the richly embellished kilt
with a front piece, then stands before Osiris
who is standing on the blue Ma'at plinth in
his usual mummified form, his hands crossed
in front of him holding the crook and flail.
Horemheb offers Osiris wine in order to be granted
the "gift of life, each day, like Ra" (view
North wall, right
In this final scene, Horemheb, dressed as before Osiris, stands before Nefertem. This god is recognisable by the lotus blossom on his head, his is regarded as the son of Ptah (who appears opposite on the west wall). The god wears a simple kilt and a blue wig. Behind him is a large emblem, the "blood knot" of Isis, the counterpois to the Djed-pillar of Ptah. (view unidia_35615).
General note about all the Scenes with the Gods
In combination, the scenes in both the Well Chamber and the Antechamber, Horemheb
stands in the presence of the gods 21 times (23 if the missing images of the
north end of the Well Chamber are counted). Counting only the now visible gods,
Horus (Harsiesis) 8 times, Hathor 7, Osiris 5, Isis and Anubis 4, Ma'at 2, Ptah
and Nefertem only once. It is also interesting to note the interchangeability
of the headdresses of Hathor and Isis. Horus always appears as Harsiesis
("Son of Isis"). In the Well Chamber, Horemheb appears with the titles "Lord
of the Two Lands" and "Lord of the Diadems", those of the living
king; whilst in the Antechamber he is "Osiris-king, Son of Ra".
North doorway thickness decoration
The doorway between the Antechamber and the Burial Chamber depicts the passage of Horemheb towards the realm of the dead. On either side of the doorway appears the Goddess Ma'at, to both "receive" him and "escort" him into the hereafter. She wears the feather of Truth on her head. Both images are turned to face the entering king.
On the right (east), she wears a pale blue wig, on the left (west) it is a darker blue, perhaps pointing to the two parts of the solar journey, the heavenly and underworld.
The two scenes are surmounted with a kheker-frieze, which here has the ancient dagger-form, unlike that of the two chambers. The scenes are both surrounded (top and sides) with the multi-coloured bar and both contain the sky hieroglyph supported by Was-sceptres. However, this time they do not contain the stars. The bottom is delineated by the red and yellow bands above the black base.
The Burial Chamber is now in sight, we will visit this and all its annexes below.