TT359 is the Theban tomb of Inerkhau, Foreman of the Lord of the Two Lands in the Place of Truth during the New Kingdom reigns of Ramesses III and Ramesses IV. The tomb is located at Deir el-Medina, a part of the Theban necropolis. Inerkhau was one of the leaders of the craftsmen who excavated and decorated the tombs in the Valley of the Kings and in the Valley of the Queens, and lived at Deir el-Medina.
The craftsmen possessed the skills and the means to construct beautifully decorated tombs that often rivalled those of the Pharaohs themselves! However, during the latter part of the New Kingdom, many of the tombs at Deir el-Medina were not decorated, possibly due to lack of finance and social unrest. Inerkhau obviously had the means to construct a beautiful tomb – he may have been especially favoured by the king. He also has a second tomb, TT299, which is likely to have been intended for himself – it is believed that TT359 was intended for his family.
Inerkhau is depicted in the scenes that decorate the walls of the tomb, with his wife, Wabet, who was a Chantress of Amun, and his many children (below).
One of the most fascinating scenes within TT359 is dedicated to the cult of kings and queens buried in Thebes (below). Two registers of deceased royal persons, in Osiris form, are seated before Inerkhau, who takes on the role of a sem-priest, and his wife, Wabet. The two figures seated immediately in front of Inerkhau in the bottom register are Queen Ahmose-Nefertari and her son, Amenhotep I, the patrons of the craftsmen at Deir el-Medina. They are followed by Ramesses I, the founder of the 19th Dynasty, and Montuhotep I, the founder of the 11th Dynasty.
The decoration in the second main chamber of the tomb is particularly exquisite. The north and south walls are each divided into three registers of scenes which continue onto the arched roof, and depict the funerary world (taken from the vignettes of the Book of the Dead).
On the north wall (above), the scenes are to be read from east to west (right to left). The top two registers concern life in the funerary world, inspired by the Book of the Dead, and the bottom register concerns the domestic cult of the deceased. The scenes include the deceased paying homage to a variety of different entities, including his own ba-bird, the god, Ptah, the rising sun (represented by the akhet-sign of two hills between which rises the sun – the two lions facing away from each other are a representation of ‘yesterday’ and ‘tomorrow’), an immense snake named Sata, and four black jackals. The opening of the mouth ritual is also depicted, as are scenes of offering to the deceased and his family.
The scenes on the south wall include Inerkhau again paying homage to a variety of entities, including the god, Osiris, the lotus flower, three jackal-headed representations of the ‘bas of Nekhen’ (believed to be the bas of ancient sovereigns or ancient deities of Nekhen), the Benu-bird, and a golden falcon. Another scene depicts the sun-god, Re, in the form of ‘the great cat of Heliopolis’ killing Apep (also known as Apophis), a deity associated with chaos. There is a also a scene (below) depicting a harpist playing for Inerkhau and his wife with an accompanying text. The text is an example of the Song of the Harpist:
The musician speaks to the Osiris, the Foreman in the Place of Truth, Inerkhau, justified.
He says: ‘I am an official, a man in Ma’at, in the good destiny made even by the god himself.
The forms are in the future since the body, being dead, since the god’s time.
The young arrive in their time, (as well as) the Ba-powers and the Akh-minds which are in the underworld, and also the mummies.
It is in the same way for the builders of funeral monuments or tombs: these are those which rest in their pyramids
A monument is made for you in the Sacred Land where your name can last.
Your works in the necropolis will be recognised, and excellent will be your place in the west.
The stream flows out toward its mouth, and the wind of the north toward the source.
Every man has his hour.
Have a happy day, the Osiris, Foreman in the Place of Truth, Inerkhau, justified. Don’t let your heart be tired, ever! Be with your very beloved. Don’t antagonise your heart during your time of life.
Have a happy day, in truth. Put ointment and fine oil on yourself. Hold of the stems of lotus and flowers to your breast.
The lady who is in your heart, she is at your side.
Don’t irritate your heart with everything that occurs. Put the song in front of you. Do not think any more of evil or the abomination of the god.
Remind yourself of your happy times, you man of sound heart, witness of Ma’at, in peace, quiet, united with Re, calm and happy, who never speaks badly.
Intoxicate your heart every day, until the day comes when you must let go.
Remnants of funerary material and the remains of mummies were found on the floor of the tomb amongst a lot of rubble. Two years after the excavation of the tomb, a stela belonging to Inerkhau appeared on the Luxor antiquities market and was bought for the Museum of the Oriental Institute of Chicago. The top part of another stela belonging to Inerkhau is in the Louvre Museum.
Translation taken from OsirisNet.
Bibliography and further reading:
OsirisNet – TT359: http://www.osirisnet.net/tombes/artisans/inerkhaou359/e_inerkhaou359_01.htm – including full description and more images.
Cherpion, N. and J.-P. Corteggiani, 2010. ‘La tombe d’Inerkhaouy (TT 359) à Deir el Medina‘, 2 vol. MIFAO 128.
Farid, H. The burial chamber of Inerkhau: http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/farid/Hany_Farid/Inherkhau.html – a photographic mosaic of the chamber decoration.