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Tuesday Tomb – KU16


The funerary chamber of KU16 (Source: Osirisnet).

This week we are looking at another tomb at el-Kurru, Sudan – KU16.

KU16 is the tomb of the Nubian pharaoh, Tanwetamani. Tanwetamani was the son of Queen Qalhata and the pharaoh Shabaka. He was also the nephew of the pharaoh Taharqo. He ruled Egypt during the Twenty-fifth Dynasty. 

Tanwetamani (Source: Osirisnet).

After the Assyrians appointed Nekau I as ruler of Egypt, Tanwetamani re-occupied Egypt, including the ancient capital of Memphis, killing Nekau I in the process. However, his success was short lived as the Assyrians invaded once again and defeated Tanwetamani’s army. 

Vertical columns of hieroglyphs relating to Chapter 30A of the Book of the Dead (Source: Osirisnet).

The tomb of Tanwetamani consists of a surface pyramid (only the foundations of which remain), a chapel, an antechamber, and a funerary chamber. The decoration is unfinished and the artist’s guidelines can be seen in many areas.

The decoration is Egyptian in style, obeying the strict Egyptian canon for the drawing of figures even though this had fallen out of use in Egypt at this time. Tanwetamani is depicted accompanied by the Four Sons of Horus, Qebehsenuef, Duamutef, Hapi, and Imseti.  

The Four Sons of Horus (Source: Osirisnet).

It is particularly interesting that all four deities are depicted with human heads as only Imseti was depicted this way, the other three traditionally depicted with animal heads. Elsewhere in the tomb, they are depicted with animal heads (above). 

Isis (Source: Osirisnet).

Images of Isis (above) and Nephthys guard the entry to the funerary chamber. Above the passageway leading to the funerary chamber, four baboons are depicted worshipping before the barque carrying the rising sun. Baboons were associated with the sun in ancient Egypt as they screech at sunrise and bask in the early morning sun.

The funerary chamber does not contain a niche or a raised plinth for a sarcophagus.

Bibliography and further reading:

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

Dunham. 1950. Royal cemeteries of Kush – el Kurru. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts.

Gasm el Seed. 1985. ‘La Tombe de Tanutamen à El Kurru (KU.16)’. Revue d’Egyptologie 36: 67-72.


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