LUXOR — West Bank — Tombs of the Nobles

The rock tombs of Shek Abd al-Gurna which is the hill north of the Ramesseum contain some of the largest and most important private Theban tombs for the high dignitaries and the greater and lesser officials and priests of the New Kingdom. They are small compared to the pharaoh’s tombs found in the Valley of the Kings and the paintings found in these tombs are more about daily living and earthly pleasures.

Tombs of the Nobles
There are hundreds of tombs found here but of these thirteen are highly recommended and these are numbered and divided into five groups. Each group of five needs a separate ticket and some of the tombs may be closed so you will need to ask at the ticket office (see above). The tombs normally consist of three rooms with a forecourt, a wide hall with a roof supported by pillars and an adjacent corridor with an alcove for statues of the deceased and his relatives at the back. Some of the tombs have small side rooms.

The tombs that can be seen here are:
Tomb of Khonsu (Tomb no 31)
Tomb of Userhet(Tomb no 51)
Tomb of Benia (Tomb no 343)
Tomb of Menna (Tomb no 52)
Tomb of Nakht (Tomb no 69)
Tomb of Ramose (Tomb no 55)
Tomb of Userhet (Tomb no 56)
Tomb of Khaemhet(Tomb no 57)
Tomb of Sennofer(Tomb no 96)
Tomb of Rekhmire (Tomb no 100)
Tomb of Neferronpet(Tomb no 178)
Tomb of Dhutmosi(Tomb no 295)
Tomb of Nefersekheru (Tomb no 296)

Tomb of Khonsu (Tomb no 31)
Khonsu lived in the reign of Ramses 11 and was the high priest of Tuthmosis 111’s funerary cult. This tomb is very colourful with its paintings of offerings to pharaohs and gods and scenes of boats carrying the dead as well as birds with eggs found on the ceiling. The entrance to this tomb is through an open courtyard.

Tomb of Userhet (Tomb no 343)
This tomb is closed.

Tomb of Benia (Tomb no 51)
The tomb of Benia is found just behind Khonsu’s. Benia was a royal child in the 18th dynasty and his tomb is very colourful and at the end of this tomb is a spirit statue of Benia and his parents.

Tomb of Menna (Tomb no 52)
This tomb and the tomb of Nakht are found near the previous ones. Menna was a field and property superintendent in the 18th dynasty. The highly coloured wall paintings in this tomb show scenes of farming, hunting and feasting. There are also some beautifully preserved roof decorations.

Tomb of Nakht (Tomb no 69)
Nakht was an official and priest of Amun in the 18th dynasty. Only the first room of this tomb is decorated with some very well preserved wall paintings. Apart from similar paintings to those found in Menna’s tomb this one also includes paintings of three musicians that are found on lots of postcards and t-shirts and other souvenirs. This tomb is very small and only a few people can fit in at one time.

Tomb of Ramose (Tomb no 55)
Ramose was a noblemen, vizier, mayor and judge during the reign of Amenhoptep 111 and Akhenaten. This tomb is one of the few survivors of the transitional period in Egypt from the old religion to the new religion of exclusive worship of the sun. There are some very lovely wall paintings and carvings showing scenes from the reign of the two pharaohs and Ramose’s important position in the royal court as well as his funeral.

Traveller's Tip

The reliefs of Ramose, his wife and other relatives are just wonderful because they are so life-like and clearly show their affection for each other.

Tomb of Userhet (Tomb no 56)
This tomb is next to Ramose’s tomb. Userhet was one of Amenhotep’s royal scribes. This tomb has some lovely representations of what daily life was like for someone in his position. The scenes you can see include Userhet presenting gifts to Amenhotep 11, his visit to a barber and men hunting and making wine.

Tomb of Khaemhet (Tomb no 57)
Khaemhet was the royal inspector of the granaries and royal scribe to Amenhotep 111. The wall paintings in this tomb also offer fine scenes of everyday life.

Tomb of Sennofer (Tomb no 96)
Sennofer had many titles under the reign of Amenhotep 11 but the most important probably was the mayor of Thebes. This is a very colourful tomb, mostly in excellent condition. It is often called the ‘Tomb of Vines’ because of the images of grapes and vines found on the ceilings and this theme continues into some of the wall paintings. A lot of the wall paintings also show the love Sennofer had for his wife.

Tomb of Rekhmire (Tomb no 100)
This is one of the finest and largest of these groups of tombs and the artwork throughout it highlights the extraordinary talent of the craftsmen and artists who built it. Rekhmire was a vizier, the highest ranking official under the pharaohs Tuthmosis III and Amenophis II during a period when Egypt was at the height of her prosperity. In addition he was also the mayor of Thebes and the Steward of the Temple of Amun at Karnak. The explanation of his duties as a vizier found within his tomb is one of the most important administrative texts of the New Kingdom and all that we know of Rekhmire comes from his tomb.The tomb is fairly simple, consisting of a courtyard leading into a vestibule that is 20 metres long and then a chapel that is 25 metres long. This chapel is the most interesting part of the tomb with a ceiling that is three metres at the entrance but rises to eight metres at the rear. Here the decoration is stunning giving us a complete and detailed account of many aspects of daily life with paintings that are very well preserved and still very colourful. Unfortunately because of the height at the rear of the chapel it is hard to see the decorations there. The back wall of the chapel has a niche high above the floor which once held a stele that is now found in the Louvre Museum (Paris). Below the niche is a false door which symbolically leads to the Afterworld.

Traveller's Tip

On the long, eastern wall of the chapel you will find a wonderful painting showing male and female musicians wearing bright clothes and playing instruments including lutes, tambourines, flutes, harps and castanets. The guests sit on mats while they are served their meal. You also see Rekhmire’s sons and daughters offering wreaths of flowers to him and his wife. This is probably the best painting in the tomb.

Tomb of Neferronpet (Tomb no 178)
Neferronpet also known as Kenro was an official scribe of the treasury during the second half of the reign of Ramses II. This tomb has only two small chambers with some wall decorations of less than 20 centimetres high and some that wrap around corners and continue along several walls — this is fairly unusual. The tomb of Khonsu also features this sort of decorative style. All the ceilings in this tomb are decorated with geometric designs. The highlight of the tomb is a painting showing Kenro overseeing the weighing of gold at the treasury.

Tomb of Dhutmosi (Tomb no 295)
This tomb is in poor condition and probably not worth visiting.

Tomb of Nefersekheru (Tomb no 296)
This tomb is next to Neferronpet’s and it is also full of colourful wall paintings and the colourful geometric shapes on the ceilings.