TT40, the tomb of AMENHOTEP, surnamed HUY

Tomb TT 40 is in the Theban necropolis at Qurnet Mura’i. This is one of very few tombs datable with certainty to the reign of Tutankhamun. The owner is called Amenhotep, but prefers to be called the most familiar diminutive of Huy; he undertakes the very important function of "King’s Son of Kush, Overseer of the Southern Countries", in other words, he is Viceroy of Nubia.
The tomb of Huy is one of our major sources for understanding the functions of a Viceroy: the scenes showing presentation of the tribute to the sovereign are exceptional examples of such work and created the reputation of this monument. Another interesting point is the mixture between ‘classic’ elements and others that recall the Amarna period - which had just ended.

History of the Tomb

Discovered before 1828 by Wilkinson, the chapel was visited by Champollion in 1829. It is to Nestor l’Hôte that we owe the preservation, thanks to his drawings, of scenes that are almost gone today. Many other explorers have visited the tomb.
In 1926, Nina de Garis Davies and Alan Gardiner published the complete description of the tomb under the auspices of the Egypt Exploration Society: "The tomb of Huy, Viceroy of Nubia in the reign of Tutankhamun (No. 40) ”, a work which is the basis for the following description. In modern times, the chapel had long served as a stable; it is surmounted by a now empty house.
We will see during this study several examples of attempts to cut fragments out of walls. They took place after the 1960s and have caused irreversible damage, as the example below, which is located on the southeast wall of the transverse wing, shows.

The site of Qurnet Mura’i

(In order to see precisely the site of the chapel, see ) This is on the eastern side of a hill which overlooks the western side of the village of Deir el-Medina. Located just in front of the remains of the funerary temple of Amenhotep III, the site is one of the least well known of the necropolis of Western Thebes. Many tombs are poorly documented and we have lost track of some others ("Lost Tombs"). Finally, there are those which are not mentioned anywhere, not even in Porter & Moss.
Yet here are tombs of important people, including those of three Viceroys of Kush (of the thirty known) : Merymose, TT383, (re?) discovered by Mr. El-Bialy in 1989 (Period of Amenhotep III) ; Amenhotep-Huy, TT40, his successor (period of Tutankhamun), and Nehi, D1 TT (period of Thutmose III).
The Qurnet Mura’i Research Project was created in 1999 to revitalize the study of this necropolis, but seems now to have been abandoned.


 The incomplete tomb shows a general plan of an inverted "T", reflecting a return to the classical canon after the Amarna period. From that latter period persists the transformation of the longitudinal (long arm of the ‘T’) room into a dark pillared hall ending with a niche ().

The original facade is lost, as are the courtyard and door surrounds (door jambs and lintel) (, ).

The entrance is approximately 2.75m long; its decor has almost completely disappeared. It leads into a longitudinal room crossed by a transversal one. The latter has two wings, on the right (north) and left (south), narrow (1.90m) and long (5.90m). These two wings are not aligned with one another, the walls are not square and have a curved appearance with no right angles. Almost all of the surviving decoration of the monument is in the transversal room.
A 2m long passage leads to a roughly square hall, about 5.80m side, with four square pillars; it is anepigraphic and ends with a small niche for statue.

 The chapel is oriented to the compass north-south, but symbolically (that is to say with respect to the Nile and the sun’s course) east-west. We will use this ritual orientation in the following description.

General Features of the Decoration

The colours were applied upon a whitewash finish that covers a layer of mouna of varying thickness. They were covered with an abundant amount of varnish that turned to dark red when the chapel was once more exposed to contact with air. Since the decoration has survived only in the wings and rooms’ intersection, it is not possible to know what was envisaged for the overall decorative program. The influence of Amarna art is still felt in both the themes used and in the drawing. If the separation of registers is consistent with the tradition of the eighteenth dynasty, the insistent presence of the king, found three times - in ‘strategic’ locations - recalls a feature of Amarna private tombs; however, unlike the latter, Huy is also present in the decoration.

A stylistic analysis of the figures confirms that body attitudes, clothing, and facial types are from the period of Tutankhamun. We note in particular the outsize head relative to the body with a receding chin and lips look fuller and pursed; arms and legs are thin, without trace of musculature, but not as elongated as in the Amarna period, while very round hips, thighs, and a chubby, well pronounced, belly persist.  The men are dressed in loose tunics, gathered, that go down to mid-calf, doubled over into some sort of curved ended apron that stops at knee level.  The Usekh collar, exaggeratedly broad and descending from the shoulders is reserved for the Sovereign and sons of Nubian Nobles, while Huy wears the shebyu collar (s) of gold ("gold of honor") ().

The Tomb owner and his family

Huy's mother, named Wnher, is represented behind her son when he leaves the temple of Karnak after his appointment as Viceroy.
There is no mention of his father, probably because he was a high official who had shown a little too much compromise with Akhenaten; Huy also bears the title of Prince reflecting a noble ancestry.

The position of the lady Taemwadjsi in relation to Huy is unclear because of the ambiguity of the word "senet" which means sister, wife, cousin…? This important woman of the kingdom, who holds the position of "Chief lady of the harim of Nebkheperurê (Tutankhamun) at Sehetepnetjeru (Faras) ", thus the first lady of the 'Harim'. She appears in fact on several monuments in association with Huy (who she follows) but not in the TT40. Given the poor state of the decor in some areas, her name may have disappeared.

 Huy had at least two sons. The first Tjury was a "King's envoy" ; the second, Paser, was an "Overseer of horses" and will follow in the footsteps of his father exercising the office of Viceroy of Nubia under Ay and Horemheb.

 Amenhotep-Huy probably began his career during the reign of Amenhotep III culminating with his appointment as Tutankhamun’s "King’s Son of Kush, Overseer of the southern countries".Before this appointment, Huy was probably "scribe of the correspondence of the King’s Son of Kush, Merymose".
He also bears the titles of "true scribe of the king, who loves him"; "emissary of the king in all countries" (which could explain some connections with Asia) and probably later "Fan bearer to the right of the king", "Overseer of the Cattle of Amon (± in this land of Kush) "; "Overseer of the gold countries of Amon"; "Overseer of the gold countries of the Lord of the Two Lands"; "Brave (soldier) of His Majesty in the cavalry". Only one priestly title is mentioned in the chapel: "Divine Father, beloved of the God." It is probably related to a temple of Tutankhamun built at Faras, the southern governorate headquarters. Several priests officiating in the temple are mentioned in the chapel.

For an unknown reason, the memory of Huy was attacked: his representations were all covered with a greyish distemper, as can be seen on , They were repainted, though more coarsely, in the Ramesside period. By contrast, his name was respected. It may have been a temporary disgrace and one could imagine that it was his son Paser who restored the images of his father after he succeeded him.
The cartouches of Tutankhamun were also mutilated, yet preserved the names of Ra and Amun, probably as a part of a damnatio memorae suffered by all the sovereigns from the Amarna period () ; however, some of the young king’s cartouches survived ().

Egypt and Nubia in the Eighteenth Dynasty

We will discuss much about Nubia in the pages that follow, so an introduction to the subject seems useful. At the beginning of the eighteenth dynasty, once the Hyksos invaders were driven from the north, Amenhotep I decided to extend his grasp over all of Nubia and make it, as we would say today, a colony, by removing the ancient kingdom of Kush. The new province, which the Egyptians call "Ta-Seti" ("the country of the bow") because of the characteristic weapon used by its inhabitants, is directly administered by Egyptian officials under the authority of what we call a Viceroy, which Egyptians designated as "King’s Son of Kush, Overseer of the southern countries." He is assisted in his task by a "Chief of the archers of Kush" and two lieutenant generals, one for the North (Wawat, Lower Nubia), the other for the South (Kush itself, Upper Nubia).

The Egyptians certainly distinguished Lower Nubia (the country of Wawat) as being between the first cataract (Aswan) and the second cataract, and then Upper Nubia (the country of Kush), extending from the second cataract until at least the fourth. Egyptian domination stops there. Thus, the territory under the responsibility of Huy extends from Nekheb (Elkab) until Nesuttauy, to an end point in a place called Karoy, which may correspond to Gebel Barkal.

Nubia had a very important place in the economy of the imperial Egypt, as it was its main gold provider, especially from the country of Wawat. Nubia was also a slave labor reservoir, and provided valued archers for the army and for the police troops.

The tribes of Kush had expressive names: "the scarred", "braids carriers", "Those who dress in skins, " "the Nehesyu face burned", "curly hair". If the Nubian elites are subservient to Egypt, this is not the case with the tribes that inhabited these regions, which rebelled regularly against colonial rule of Egypt and endangered its supply of precious metals. Egypt must therefore put down these revolts by police or military expeditions. The prisoners taken at that time, or during raids, were sent as slave labor to work in Egypt.
Only the regions under direct Egyptian rule (Nubia and Retenu) do provide prisoners and slaves. This was never the case for example with Keftyu (Aegeans), which can be verified in . On Tutankhamun's footwear, the two bound prisoners are an Asiatic and a Nubian; they are representative of the Nine Bows, the traditional enemies of Egypt.

The general rule in Egyptian art is to portray foreign people realistically or naturalistically; this rule is often pushed to a caricature in the Amarna period, as seen in the surface chapel of General Horemheb at Saqqara (see opposite), or on intended for sculptors, found on the site of Amarna and now preserved in the Metropolitan Museum: low brow, strong brow, flat nose whose base is sunk, accentuated wrinkles, thick lips with a mouth ajar, and beady eyes. It reflects the superior and scornful gaze of the Egyptians of the period over anything that does not belong to the two lands. In the TT40, one is struck by the difference (clearly visible on the ) between the Nubian chiefs, frankly Negroid, and the Egyptianized sons of notables. But why is a perfectly Egyptianised character like Heqanefer, "Child of the kap", "sandal-bearer of the King", "Great one of Miam" (= Aniba), "bearer of the ceremonial chair of the Lord of the two lands" not represented as an Egyptian? I think that, while presenting the tribute, Heqanefer was in the 'function' of a Nubian chief, and thus represented in a stereotyped way.

In the decoration, the skin color differences between black and dark brown, more or less, are more related to the desire of artists to differentiate the superimposed characters than to show the heterogeneity of Nubian tribes.

Let us now describe the walls.