The scribe Ramose, who was in office during the first part of the reign of Ramesses II, 19th Dynasty, was one of the most famous characters of the community of craftsmen residing in the village of Deir el-Medina. No one else left as many stelae or statues, as an offering in fulfilment of a vow or in gratitude, to nearly all divinities of the Theban pantheon, and beyond. To quote the great Bernard Bruyère (Reports 1935-1940, p.86) :
"Such an ex-voto collection, coming from only one donor, reveals at the same time an eclectic devotion, of a certain and ostentatious concern of posterity, of diplomatic concern of the beyond and finally of a well founded prosperity in this world".
The wealth, prestige and the character's social standing is not only testified by the three tombs of the scribe Ramose: TT7, TT212 and TT250 but also by his presence in the burials of at least four other characters. More than about hundred various monuments are dedicated by him or mention him (source: Exell). Together with the vizier Paser, , to whom he was very close, he was certainly at the origin of the construction of a building dedicated to Ramesses II and the introduction of a new cult of the Hathor cow in the village of Deir el-Medineh.
A character of immense prestige and having considerable influence, he profoundly marked the history of the village where he remained famous as the richest man who ever lived there (source: Cerny).
Moreover, the time of Ramesses II was a period of general prosperity for the village: work was abundant, because, if one includes the burials of sovereigns, the immense KV5 tomb of the royal sons, and at least four construction sites in the Valley of the Queens (the tombs of queen Nefertari, of the royal princesses Nebetauy, Merytamon, Benta'anat and maybe others, whose names have been lost), there are no less than six construction sites which were occupied by the workers, even if they were not probably all contemporaries. This doesn't include their work in the temples, where the decorative programs to the glory of the royal power increased (at the same time as there lesser quality).
The following are the family of the tomb owner Ramose .
His father was Amenemheb and his mother was Kakaia .
His wife was Mutemwia , also known just as Wia .
His adopted son was Kenherkhepeshef .
His wife's father was Huy and her mother was named Neferetkau .
His wife's uncle (brother of her father) was Neferrenpet .
His father didn't have a connection with Deir el-Medineh, he had the function of secretary and bailiff, whose role was to transmit the written or oral messages. This function translates his aristocratic adherence and certainly contacts with the sovereign. His son would have received training as a scribe and would have taken advantage of the paternal position.
The first known official position of Ramose is the one of
"scribe in the house of Menkheperure" (Thutmosis IV), therefore in the Temple of Millions of Years of this sovereign. On stela 4 of the Bankes collection (which was probably on a pyramid, which surmounted TT212), Ramose states many of his titles:
"Treasurer in-chief of the house of Menkheperure";
"director of the administration in the department of the director of the sealed things";
"scribe accountant of the livestock of Amon-Re";
"assistant scribe for the correspondence of the hereditary prince"; rather than the crown prince of Ramesses II, this title more probably indicates the famous Amenhotep-son-of-Hapu. Ramose proclaims himself as
"servant in the domain of Amon-Re";
"administrator of the funerary domain in the fields of Amon-Re".
Then, Ramose must have been spotted by the vizier Paser, who was in charge of distributing the various offices in the Place of Truth; these two men were to become close to one another, as will be seen below.
Some accounts show that Ramose was very proud of his new function. This is found in the script of an ostraca (), recovered from the Valley of the Kings, which gives account of his nomination as Scribe of the Tomb:
"… He (Ramose) was named scribe in the Place of Truth in year 5, the third month of akhet, day 10 of the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, Usermaatre-Setepenre, life, health, strength, the son of Re, Ramesses, beloved of Amon". He also left a record of this appointment in red ink graffiti close to an abandoned tomb of the Valley of the Queens. According to Exell, the scribe's title in the Place of truth is too vague for a character of the importance of Ramose, and he prefers to designate him as
Ramose, born under the reign of Horemheb, should have reached his position around the age of 35 years (according to Cerny). The scribe Huy was already in the administration of the tomb. Huy and his wife Neferetkhau seemed to have received him well, since he would become their son-in-law by marrying their daughter Mutemwia (also known just as Wia).
On his entry to the institution, the two team leaders were Pached and Nebnefer (sons of Neferhotep I), who are both represented in one of Ramose's tombs (TT250).
Ramose exercised his function in the tomb team for at least 33 years, because the last mention that exists dates from year 38 of Ramesses II.
They no doubt maintained close relationships. Testified by the constructions at Deir el-Medineh, under the direction of the two men, of a sanctuary dedicated to the cult of the living Ramesses II, deified, the khenu (xnw) building, adjacent to the south wall of the temple of Hathor, to whom he was probably very close (see Bruyère, Report 1935-1940, p.72-79, ). This modest in size (18 x 10m) building, named "the residence of Ramesses II", had a purely a religious and not a civil function as believed by Bruyère: the exaltation of the royal Ka - in link with the cult of Hathor. It sheltered some wooden statues of Ramesses II and several previous sovereigns, of which are Thuthmosis IV and Horemheb. It is these three sovereigns who are found mentioned on one of the limestone statues of Ramose, which also includes his name, recovered from the site ().
The Khenu building seems to have sheltered the cult of two Hathors: the first is the Hathor of the south, the classic
"Hathor who resides in Thebes"; the second is a Memphite Hathor,
"Hathor, lady of the sycamore of the South". In all the Theban area, the mention of this second Hathor is only found on the monuments dedicated by Ramose or carrying the name of his father, Amenemheb (who therefore passed on this cult to his son). So the Khenu building served not only for the royal cult but also for the personal cult of Ramose…
The collaboration between Paser and Ramose was close, as testified by the great number of stelae and statues dedicated to the two men, which have been recovered on the site; for example the stelephore block (see ) belonging to Ramose, which contains a list of offerings granted by Ramesses II, from the stores of his funerary temple (the Ramesseum), stating:
"… the one who raised the list is the scribe in the Place of Truth, Ramose, together with the royal scribe, the Mayor of the City (Thebes), the vizier, Paser…"
According to Valbelle:
"The royal statuary cults represent an important part of the monarchical ceremonies in all periods. They allow to associate the living sovereign, in his absence, and his deceased predecessors, to the daily services and to the festivals of the divinities in the whole of the country and even in remote sanctuaries, situated in the surrounding deserts or foreign countries. They are also destined to reinforce the permanence of the Pharaonic power whilst uniting the effigies of his successive representatives. The domain of the Tomb is evidently a place favoured to celebrate the perpetuity of the Egyptian royalty and the memory of the sovereigns who illustrate it.".
It is clear that Ramose played an important role in the establishment and the promotion of the royal cult of Ramesses II in the village and that, in parallel, he withdrew a considerable social prestige from it (source: Exell).
It is possible that Ramose and Paser also contributed to the erection of a chapel dedicated to Amon, opposite the temple of Hathor, at the foot of the hill of Qurnet Murai. Fragments of stelae or walls, collected close by, show the two men in front of a statue of Ramesses II.
Even if the career of Ramose was brilliant, virtually nothing is known of his personal life, apart from the fact that he never had a child with his wife Mutemwia (sometimes reduced to Wia). This would have been a great misfortune in the ancient Egypt.
He seems to have solved the problem of the continuity of his lineage by adopting a boy with the name of Kenherkhepeshef, as testified in the inscription on the table of offering, Louvre E.13998:
"The scribe in the Place of Truth, Ramose, justified (lit. "true of voice", thus "deceased")
; his son, scribe Kenherkhepeshef, whose father was Panakht".
This Panakht is not mentioned anywhere else in Deir el-Medineh. The term
"his son", used in the text, may be used for almost any domestic relations, but without a tie of blood, for example: one which unites a master to his pupil.
Before arriving at this extreme action, the couple had made devout donations to numerous goddesses of fertility, of which Hathor, Taueret, and even foreign divinities, such as the Asian goddess of love, Qadesh (Turin 50066 stela above left, photo by Su Bayfield). A table of offerings, dedicated jointly to Osiris and Hathor, by the two men, was found.
Kenherkhepeshef had installed his office at the station of rest situated between Deir el-Bahari and the Valley of the Kings and created for himself a massive seat in limestone, found recessed in the paving by Bruyère. It mentions:
"the royal scribe in the Place of Truth, Ramose" as well as
"his son, who makes live his name, the scribe Kenherkhepeshef" (see ).
The scribe Ramose's fame earned his appearance in a certain number of tombs, apart from his own:
In the first arched chamber of the sculptor Neferrenpet's tomb, TT336, Ramose and his wife Wia make offerings to the
"royal scribe Huy" (brother of Neferrenpet and father of Wia) as well as to his wife Neferetkhau.
In the surface chapel of the tomb of the labourer Nebenmaat, TT219, on the north part of the west wall is found the seated couple; the identifying text, once read by Bruyère, is lost today.
In the tomb of the sculptor Ken, TT4, on the wall at the base of the chapel, on each side of the image of the cow goddesss, Hathor, springing from the mountain of the west, is found an image of Re-Horakhty to whom the vizier Paser (on the left) and the royal scribe Ramose (on the right) offer Ma'at.
In the joined chapel of Penbui and Kasa, TT10, the scribe Ramose and vizier Paser are represented behind Ramesses II making an offering to Ptah and Hathor, in a niche situated in the left wall.
The prosperity of the scribe Ramose has already been mentioned, which attests to the number of offerings made in fulfilment of a vow, which, for example, he dedicated to different divinities. But it is hardly believable that he was able to construct for himself three burial tombs. This is however true: TT7, TT212 and TT250 belong to him.
It was not only for himself that Ramose built and dug these chapels and chambers. He seems to have used TT7 for himself, whilst TT250 appears to have been reserved for his handmaids who were attached to his house, often identified as "women slaves" by the Egyptologists. The destination of TT212 remains obscure, because there only remains the alcove at the base. Perhaps it was intended for his masculine servants?
Two of the tombs were surmounted with small pyramids. One of the pyramidions, which was located at the top of one of them, is in the Turin Museum (see Hans Ollermann photo, above). All information on this pyramidion is on the Project Rosette site, see bibliography at the end of the TT250 page.
This tomb, consisting of a single oblong chamber, is accessed from a courtyard through a narrower passageway. According to Davies, the iconography inside suggests strongly that it represents the final home of Ramose. Except by Porter and Moss, this tomb has not been published.
**Thanks to the kindness of Mrs. Eva Hofmann (Univ. Heidelberg) we have images of the west wall, but all others are missing. Thank you if you can help.**
The chapel is preceded by a courtyard which was enclosed by stone walls. A shaft, leading to tomb TT265, the chamber of Amenemopet opens up in this courtyard. On each side of the facade, the wall is depressed in the shape of stela. In the one on the right of the entrance, is a stela with the images of Hathor, a bark and some text below.
This is recessed and decorated on the outside, with the lintel containing a double scene with the deceased adoring the bark of Atum and Re-Horakhti and what remains of the open arms of Nut, which overhang the other images. In one hand she holds a sign of life, in the other a protective sign (see image right). In the doorway, left side, is the deceased with the text (probably a solar hymn). The soffit (ceiling of the entry) carries a representation of the tree goddess Nut.
The inner entrance is decorated on both sides. On the left, a man (probably Ramose) adores royalty: Amenhotep I, Ahmose-Nefertari, Horemheb and Tuthmosis IV; whilst below is the image of a god. On the right is the deceased and two women, possibly his wife and mother.
This was decorated on all four walls.
This includes the left side of the entry wall. There are three registers: one containing three people before the deceased and his wife, another containing the funeral procession and finally one with the pilgrimage to Abydos.
This includes the right side of the entry wall. Here there are two registers. The first has three scenes: the slaughtering of a bull, the bark with Osiris between Isis and Nephthys, and finally the deceased before the bark of Sokari. The other register has two scenes: people making offerings to the deceased and his wife, and the deceased adoring the Benu-bird in a bark.
This takes up the form of a stela, containing three registers.
On the upper register, which occupies the curved area, can be seen the Pharaoh Ramesses II, making an encensement in front of the Theban triad (Amon, Mut and Khonsu). He is followed by the vizier Paser and by Ramose.
On the middle register Ramose, his wife Mutemwia and parents are paying homage to Osiris, Ptah, Horus, Isis and Min-Khamutef.
On the bottom register are the deceased, his mother, his wife and another woman adoring Anubis, Isis, Nephthys and two Hathor cows of the mountain of the west.
This was decorated with a common design of this era (see the upper part of the "west wall" image above). The colour of the pattern design is almost lost, but it consisted of coloured squares. The whole was surrounded by the usual yellow-ochre band. A broader central band extended from above the entrance to the top of the far west wall this originally included a text. Another band extended from the top of the middle of south and north (side) walls to the central band, also originally with text.