Tuesday Tomb – KU5

The tomb of Qalhata (Source: Osirisnet).

This week we are heading to Sudan to the tomb of Queen Qalhata. 

Qalhata was the queen of Shabaka and the daughter of Piye, the first pharaoh of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty (also known as the Kushite Dynasty). She was also the mother of the pharaoh Tanwetamani.

All of the Nubian kings (with the exception of Taharqo) were buried in Sudan at el-Kurru, 13km from the sacred mountain, Gebel Barkal. The tombs of nine kings and fourteen queens of the Kushite Dynasty have been discovered at this location. It is believed that Piye was inspired by the Egyptian pyramids when he decided to build his tomb at el-Kurru; however, his tomb is most like the private tombs of the New Kingdom. 

Each tomb consists of a pyramid, and one or two funerary chambers. All of the pyramids have been reduced to mounds, including that of Qalhata. 

Qalhata, wearing the vulture headdress of an Egyptian queen (Source: Osirisnet).

Qalhata’s tomb, together with that of her son, are the best preserved tombs in the necropolis and their decoration is very similar.

Like the other Kushite kings’ mothers, the queen is depicted wearing the traditional vulture headdress (above). She wears a gold necklace and bracelets, and is pictured holding hands with the children of Horus. She wears a white linen dress with fairly long sleeves. 

The mummiform figure of Qalhata (Source: Osirisnet).

On the North wall, the queen is depicted as Osiris, a mummiform figure (above). This scene is topped by a frieze of upright uraei. The mummy lies on a lion-headed bed. What is interesting about this scene is that the masculine attributes of royalty are depicted beneath the queen, for example, the crown, sceptres, and a shendjit-kilt. 

Qalhata depicted as a sphinx (Source: Osirisnet).

On the South wall, the queen is depicted again as Osiris but this time lying on her front (above). This is interesting because this scene, along with the scene of the North wall, show the queen as Osiris both lying down but also beginning to stand up this is the cycle of rebirth that the deceased goes through. Beneath the queen, more royal attributes are found, including the white crown of Upper Egypt and the Atef-crown (the crown worn by Osiris).

In the second room of the tomb, there is a pedestal on which a sarcophagus would have rested; however, this has not been found.

Bibliography and further reading:

Osirisnet – KU5: http://www.osirisnet.net/tombes/soudan/tanoutamon_qalhata/e_tanoutamon_qalhata.htm

Morkot, R. 2000. The Black Pharaohs: Egypt’s Nubian Rulers. London: The Rubicon Press.

2 comments on “Tuesday Tomb – KU5

  1. Hi I’ve only subscribed to your site very recently. I find myself checking my email every day to discover what exciting Ancient Egyptian topic, picture or tomb case study is next. Thank you.

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