Egypt: The Private Tomb of Kheruef at Asasif on the West Bank at Luxor

The Private Tomb of Kheruef at Asasif
on the West Bank at Luxor

by Jimmy Dunn writing as Mark Andrews

Amenhotep III and Tiy, behind him.

The private tomb of Kheruef (Kheruf), TT 192 in the Asasif district, is the largest such tomb on the West Bank at Luxor (ancient Thebes). Even though there is no evidence that Kheruef was ever buried here and it was unfinished, the tomb is one of the most important, both religiously and historically, in the Theban necropolis. It has helped us understand the history of rituals celebrating kingship. The owner was most likely an significant individual who organized the first and third jubilees for Amenhotep III, though he probably died in during the reign of Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten). He was a Royal Scribe and First Herald to the King, he was later appointed Steward to Queen Tiy.

The tomb was first explored by the German Egyptologist Adolph Erman in 1885. This investigation was later published by Heinrich Brugsch in his Thesaurus Inscriptionum Aegyptiacarum in 1891. In the 1940s, Alan Gardiner also worked the tomb and then after it was robbed in the 1940s, the Egyptian Department of Antiquities in association with the Epigraphic Survey of the University of Chicago cleared, recorded and finally published their results in 1980.

The tomb is entered through a descending corridor that first leads to a large open court with pillared porticoes on both the east and west sides. This is the only portion of the tomb that is decorated. There is a possibility that, though most of the tomb had been constructed, at this point in its decoration the roof collapsed, and work was halted. For some reason, apparently enemies, we are told of Amen, Amenhotep IV and Kheruef, later defaced images of all three.

The most important scenes within the tomb are those on the west wall of the court. However, in the corridors we find scenes of Kheruef adoring Ra, Amenhotep IV with Tiy offering wine to Ra-Horakhty and Matt, Amenhotep IV and Tiy offering incenses before Atum and Hathor, and a scene of Amenhotep IV adoring Ra- Horakty and also with Amenhotep III and Tiy.

Perhaps foreign princesses at Amenhotep III's jubilee

On the west wall of the court are a number of elegant scenes. South of the rear doorway are important scenes that document Amenhotep III's first jubilee, which was held on the 27th day of the second month of the third season of his 30th year of rule, according to the inscriptions. These include separate scenes depicting Kheruef, Amenhotep III and queen Tiy, along with others. Here, we find, dressed in his jubilee clothing, Amenhotep II on his throne beside Hathor and Queen Tiy. The king is awarding Kheruef the gold of Honor. We also find a scene of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiy leaving their palace and another scene where the king and queen, along with Kheruef, are being towed in a boat and met by their daughters and a number of priests. Another scene shows singers, dancers and musicians, including the first known occurrence of a round drum, or tambourine.

To the north of the rear door of the court we find similarly styled scenes depicting Amenhotep III's third jubilee. This took place in his 37th year, and one important scene depicts the raising of the djed-pillar by the king and priests. This ritual is accompanied by singers, dancers, bought from the Western Desert Oases, as well as ritual combat involving boxing and stick fencing.

Dancers and Flutists taking part in Amenhotep III's Jubile

The erection of the Tet(Djed)-pillar was performed on the Thirtieth day of Khoiakh, as the final rite within the festival of this month. It was a symbol of stability and the act of erecting it on this day probably represented the resurrection of Osiris and the rebirth and accession of the new king. The Tet(Djed)-pillar was one of the most significant symbols of the Egyptian religion. It symbolized the idea of stability and duration.

Also on this wall are scenes of cattle and donkeys ritually walking around the walls of Memphis, and the preparation and transport of offerings. All of these scenes were so important to the ancient priests that a thousand years later they surrounded these images with a wall and still visited this tomb.

Dancers from the Western Desert

From there, one passes through a doorway at the rear of the first hall into a second, broad columned hall. Here, fragments of two gray granite and quartzite statues of Kheruef were discovered. In the southwest corner of this broad hall is a shaft that descends, making several right hand turns, before passing through one burial chamber before ending at a second burial chamber. From a doorway in the rear of the broad, columned hall, one passes through a final doorway that leads to long, pillared hall that has a statue niche at on the rearward, western side.






Reference Number

Valley of the Kings

Weeks, Kent R.



ISBN 1-5866-3295-7

Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, The

Shaw, Ian


Oxford University Press

ISBN 0-19-815034-2