September 18, 2013

Tomb of Haremhab

Tomb of Haremhab
This is the tomb of the first pharaoh of non-royal lineage to construct his resting place in the Valley of the Kings. Haremhab was the general who seized control at the end of the 18th Dynasty and his tomb is one of the most remarkable, although the entrance is unimpressive. It slopes through two corridors (1) and (2) that were not completed, but which enable us to see the different stages of mural decoration.

Tomb of Haremhab

The well-room (3), however, has fine quality reliefs, and the following chamber (4) was actually completed and decorated to resemble a tomb chamber; the stairway to the left rear (a) was carefully concealed, and the plastered wall was painted like the rest of the walls. The robbers were not fooled. The tomb was plundered in antiquity.

The rear corridor (5) is decorated with a series of marvellous paintings showing the deceased Haremhab with Anubis, the jackalheaded god of embalmment and before the various deities, including Hathor, Osiris, Anubis, and Horus son of Isis. In chamber (6), on the left-hand wall (b) he is embraced by Hathor, and stands before Anubis, Isis, Harsiesis (a form of Horus) and Ptah, in turn. On the right-hand wall (c), he is led by Harsiesis to Hathor, and stands before Anubis, Isis, Harsiesis, Hathor, Osiris and Nefertum, in turn. These paintings are of extremely high quality, and in a marvellous state of preservation.

Tomb of Haremhab
 The tomb chamber (7) was never completed. On the higher reaches of the wall there are symbols for north, south, east and west, which were the instructions for workmen who were given appropriate decorations for the different parts of the chamber. These were the hours of the night according to the ‘Book of the Gates’.

On the left-hand side of the hall, from (d) to (e) there are scenes from the first hour of the night. Further along, at (f), is the third hour of the night. The missing second hour is depicted on the opposite wall, at (g) and (h).

Tomb of Haremhab
Towards the rear of the tomb chamber, to the left, is the fourth hour of the night, at (i) and the fifth hour opposite, at (j), where the judgement hall of Osiris is depicted. This is the only full judgement scene in a royal tomb, and it shows Osiris as Lord of the Underworld, with his forty-two judges of the dead, before whom the deceased will answer charges. Having pleaded innocence of all wrong-doing he gains access to a life ever-lasting.

The red granite sarcophagus is beautifully carved with figures of the deities and with religious formulae. At the corners the protective goddesses, Isis and Nephthys, spread their wings to guard the body of the deceased. In the side chamber (8), Osiris is depicted in front of the Djed pillar representing rebirth.

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