According to the representations of the tomb of Neferrenpet, TT178

Neferrenpet is a very high ranking official since he carries the title of "Chief scribe of the treasure of Amon-Re". In other words he has under his responsibility the management of the most precious goods of the temple of Karnak.
It is his interesting title and his professional activities in the temple, that the lower registers of the north and west walls of room B of his tomb relate.
These have a fairly monochrome appearance, being composed primarily of black, browns, and yellows on an off-white background. They appear more as drawings, even resembling sketches rather than a finished work. They all seem to indicate therefore that these scenes have been finished in a hurry, possibly after the owner's death.

The two panels can also be seen separately by clicking in the image

The workshops: Room B, north wall, to the left of the opening, lower register

It is still uncertain nowadays precisely where the workshops of the temple of Karnak were located. The representation indicates that a wall surrounded the group of structures held within.
It is entered through the first pylon closed by a double door, entering into a vast courtyard, where some trees are even visible. The man with a whip is the "guardian of the door", and he verifies if the workers who present themselves have the right to enter further or not. Is it possible that they were even searched ?

At the top are two enclosed areas. The small one, nearest to the entry, was possibly the guard's room. The larger one, which has a central door and extends across the width of the courtyard, was probably primarily an area for storage for large sized objects (and therefore difficult to steal) : sarcophaguses, statuary, cartonnage for mummies, etc. The "outline scribe, Pa-hem-netjer", seated on a low seat, writes an inscription on the back of a statue or perhaps adding a change or final addition.

The entry into the actual workshops is via another pylon doorway, pierced into a wall which occupies the whole width of the building.

Upper sub-register


This includes, according to the inscription, the "Chief sculptor", on the left, who seems to gild with gold leaf a statue represented in a coarse manner, resting on a tilted pedestal.

The two others drill some pearls with the help of a bow and awls. Above the one on the right can be read "Chief jeweller".
It seems incredible that one person can manipulate 4 or 5 awls at the same time. And yet it is possible, as found by the enthralling experiments of Denys Stocks (see bibliography), and is similarly represented in six Theban tombs at least, for example the one of Rekhmire TT100, where a craftsman can be also seen who threads the pearls thus created on to the necklace ().

Denys Stocks describes this operation :
The tools required to pierce stone or wood evolved over thousands of years. The earliest material in use for perforating stone beads was flint, but long, narrow perforations are much easier to make with metal drills, and eventually ones of copper and bronze were used in conjunction with a fine abrasive paste. The bead-drill was force-fitted into a waisted wooden handle and rotated with the string of a small bow. The operator firmly holds the handles in his left hand, after having wound the string of the bow (held in his right hand) around each of the metallic stems. In operation, the drill rods rotate clockwise the anticlockwise dependent on the direction of the bow. The number of rotations can reach 1500 / minute ().
If the surface to pierce is mineral, a fine abrasive powder made of a quartz paste would be used. So for example the drilling of the pearls for a necklace: the fragments to pierce would be secured in a block of mud brick in order to immobilise them. Tests showed that a 10 mm diameter amethyst bead could be drilled with a single 1 mm diameter drill-point in 5 hours. However, using three drills simultaneously perforated three beads in a similar time.

On careful examination of the scene represented in the tomb of Neferrenpet, a small pot containing the abrasive paste can clearly be seen next to the craftsman.
It can be imagined the amount of time that would be required to produce a simple necklace of beads, so often found in museum collections. ) is an image of one of these very simple necklaces, belonging to me (Jon Hirst).
Also, this is the proof that at this time an organised structure of mass production had made its appearance.

The two adjoining sub-registers below


These are dedicated to the production of pieces of gold-work, as indicated by the title "Chief of the goldsmiths", placed in front of the foreman who presents the production of his workshop, in the form of gold ingots. The first worker, at top left, stirs the fire of his brazier with a blowpipe. His seated colleagues are engaged in the activities of working the metal.

The bottom register


Here are represented the goblets and vases, and with uncertainty, the title of the foreman "Chief of the metal workers". The workers (in two sub-registers) accomplish the polishing of the artefacts, probably made of copper. The first, at top left, leans towards a brazier (difficult to recognise), above which is represented a large calliper intended to seize the hot moulds.

In front of the foremen


Here we find Neferrenpet in heroic size, clothed in an elegant pleated dress. With a reed pen in hand, he makes note of the various workshop produce, before they are taken to the warehouses. These are the objects which the porters, spoken of above, come to retrieve.
above the character says :
"{1} [sS {?}] Hwt-nbw n Jmn {2} KnrA mAa-xrw n [… missing…] Hr {3} Ssp bAk{w} nA n Hmw{4}w Jmn-Raw njswt ntrw".
Which translates, after filling the gap :
"The scribe of the House of the Gold of Amon, Kenro, Justified, when he receives the works of the craftsmen of Amon-Re, king of the gods".

The warehouses: room B, west wall, lower register

The workshops are separated from the warehouses by a courtyard planted with trees, which can be seen to the extreme left on the north wall ().

These warehouses constitute a large complex surrounded by an outer wall, and further divided into four areas, separated by walls.
Like the workshop complex, it is entered via a large doorway, although this complex has a smaller adjacent entrance; the rear three areas being again entered through a single doorway from the previous area. The building was thus very secure (see view above).

The first (largest) area

This first area is primarily a large reception courtyard. Its entry from outside is through a monumental complex double structure with a door. The structure consists of an outer lintel with a coving supported by two papyriform pillars, with a large inner doorway, again with an ornate lintel. This great doorway was probably reserved for solemn occasions. To the right of this main entrance is a smaller doorway, possibly for normal everyday use, but guarded by a seated man holding a whip. He is designated as "The door-keeper of the treasury, QAb-f-Hbw-sd" (the meaning of his name is difficult to understand).
The two buildings at the top, against the front wall, do not appear to be in use, they are empty. It could be that these were rest-rooms or sleeping quarters. Similar rooms exists at the bottom, against the front wall. The small room nearest to the small entry was possibly the guard's room.
The action within this area takes place in the open air, indicated by the presence of some trees (visible to the right of the balance).

The main part of the courtyard

, is divided into two symmetrical sub-registers, occupy the full height.

At the top

() are located four scribes and two other colleagues.

The four scribes are designated by their function, but not named: "the scribes of the treasury". They possibly record in detail the goods which two of their colleagues bring to the warehouses: four pieces of cloth and three bound bags.
In front of these two, a very short text indicates that they are "Supervisors of the mrw". The term "mrw" is usually translated as "slaves", but here it is necessary to understand them as the staff working for and attached to the temple of Karnak. "Serfs" or just "workers" would be more appropriate and politically correct.
In practice, these two men are probably the scribes supervising the workers of the workshops, who bring to the warehouses the product of the workers under their control. It is likewise possible that their four colleagues are giving them a receipt for it.

Below, a scene of weighing

accompanied by two characters.

The one on the right is called "Weigh-master […] of the treasury", therefore in charge of the weighing. He verifies the steelyard with his hand, whilst with his other hand he steadies the pan on which rest the weights of bronze. Notice that these are in the form of animals.
The person on the left is a scribe noting the result, he is named as the "Scribe of the Treasury of Amon, Bak-en-Amon".
The weighed goods are difficult to identify. All that can be said is that at the foot of the balance are found two full bags, and four pieces of material above.

At the left-hand side of the courtyard

Here we find a representation (very clumsy in its proportions) of Neferrenpet, seated on a low seat, his naked feet on a stool. He holds a scribe's palette in his left hand, while he stretches out his right hand in front of him.
At this level, is located :
{1} Wsjr sS pr-HD n Jmn KnrA {2} Hr Ssp bAk{w} nA n mrw {3} pr-Jmn".
Which translates as:
"The Osiris, scribe of the Treasury of Amon, Kenro, who receives the works of the 'slaves' of the house of Amon".
The word "Osiris" is taken here as a common name, it is equivalent to "blissfully deceased" [a small digression: this is how one could write, for example: "the named is as Osiris"].
Above Neferrenpet, at top left, is an annexe entered by an off-centred door. It contains jars and crates, as well as material arranged in heaps, the nature of which is not specified.

The second area

This could either be another courtyard or a large covered room. Ancient Egyptian artistic conventions make it difficult to determine.
The entry is through a central doorway in the wall separating it from the previous area. it is little less monumental than the previous, the covings are less decorated. One person is responsible for supervising the deliveries; he is designated as "hrj sAwtj Hsi-m-WAst", translated as "Senior guard, Hesy-em-Waset" (lit.: 'Praised in Thebes').
Four naked porters, whose names are not readable, bring the goods from outside; in this case, amphoras. Thus, one can be certain that they could not leave while concealing something.
Some of the goods are stored in the courtyard itself, like the amphoras transported by the porters. Also note the presence of variable size bags, heaps of fruits (?) and what could be wicker baskets.
Without doubt, this is only temporary storage before the goods are stored in one the four rooms shown at the top of the register. These already contain jars and bags, except the second one, where chests additionally can be seen ().
At the bottom, another man, identified as "hrj sAwtj Sxrw", or "Senior guard, Sekheru", stacks the amphoras of two different types.

The third area

This part of the complex is even smaller than the previous one. It is entered by a less monumental door and is flanked by two sets of four storage rooms. They mainly contain the amphoras, of various sizes, the largest being provided with handles.
Large rudders for barques are laying on the ground. On examination of the lower four, two appear to have the head of falcon which correspond therefore to the barque of Khonsu; two have a woman's head which correspond to the barque of Mut. The two upper rudders are decorated with a ram's head which correspond to the barque of Amon (). There does not appear to be a any supervisor in this area.

The fourth area

This is the smallest of the four areas (see left side of , above), being less than half the depth of area three. It is damaged because of the brutal removal by the pillagers of the limestone plug which protected and concealed the entry toward the underground complex (). Two storerooms are visible at the top, with chests and something else which is impossible to identify. It is possible to think that here, in the deepest part of the complex, that the most precious commodities were stored.

The warehouses of Thutmosis III in Karnak

I (TB) photographed in Karnak the sites of warehouses dating from Thutmosis III, which were very probably still in use under Ramesses II. Even though they were probably not those of Neferrenpet, they could hardly have been much different. This is why it seemed interesting to discuss and show them here.

Upon entering into the courtyard of the Middle Kingdom, at the extremity of which stands the Akhmenu temple, all along its left flank can be found a group of rooms aligned next to the other. Practically no one pays any attention to them because the group appears very ruined, and their access is sometimes difficult because of the presence of thistles ().
These nevertheless were the storerooms of which some, at one time, may have contained the items of the "treasure of the domain of Amon", and therefore the most precious objects of the temple.

On visiting these rooms of modest enough size, there is the immediate impact of the existence of a raised "floor" in stone slabs, which delimit two levels of storage (see and ).
Elsewhere, ready access to underground areas can be found (Thierry could not descend there), for example see .
These rooms are surrounded by a "mysterious" corridor which only a few priests would have been allowed access. In the corridor behind the rooms is again very visible (the rooms of the treasury are on the right in the photo).
What remains of the wall is visible at the front also, leaving only a narrow corridor (). The confirms this.

On looking at the area of the courtyard situated in front of the rooms of the Treasury, and noting the number of buildings in ruins which are found there (), it is not prohibited to think that the general disposition has been reproduced in the tomb TT178, and that the workshops did not have to be located too far away, could in fact be these demolished buildings.

The few walls which remain of the stores includes beautiful representations nevertheless; all those which Thierry found are in the name of Thutmosis III. Discover them for yourself in some examples below in the images of the table. An interesting view is the one of the "soul" of Pe and Nekhen, in their characteristic attitude (). Also unusual is the large-sized representation of a hippo, hammered out, alas ().

One special case is that of the room at the far left of the alignment ( and ). It is the largest of all, and its entry is at right-angles to those of the other storerooms.
It is possible, with a minimum of imagination, to see there on the ground the sacred barque rudders or oars.