Egypt: Private Tomb of Ramose on the West Bank at Luxor

The Private Tomb of Ramose on the West Bank at Luxor

by Jimmy Dunn writing as Mark Andrews

Ramose was a Governor of Thebes and Vizier during the 18th Dynasty during the reigns of Amenophis III and Amenophis IV (Akhenaton, the heretic king). There are no children seen in any of the decorations of his tomb, so we assume he and his wife, Meryet-ptah were childless. We believe his father to have been Neby, who served in northern Egyp as a superintendent of Amen's cattle and in the delta as the temple's superintendent of the granary. His mother was Apuya.

Ramose's tomb in the general region of the Tombs of the Nobles, specifically at Sheikh Abd el-Qurna on the West Bank at Luxor (ancient Thebes) is well done for a private tomb, particularly considering that many of the scenes are in relief. It is also fairly large for a private tomb. The tomb was first made known to the modern world by Villiers Stewart in 1879, who returned to do more work on the tomb in 1882. Gaston Maspero continued the work of Stewart, but it was Robert Mond, working for the Metropolitan Museum of Art who restored the tomb to its present condition in 1924.

The tomb was unfinished, probably because Romose started construction on a new one at Amarna when his pharaoh moved the capital to his new city. But because of these changing times, the tomb is significant in that the artwork begins to show the transition to the new artistic style of Amarna. Also, because it was abandoned, it gives Egyptologists evidence on the different stages of carving and decorating a tomb.

This tomb, numbered TT 55, is traditional in its T-shaped design. One enters by a split stairway with a center ramp that leads into the courtyard, both of which are outside the tomb proper. From there a short stairway leads to a large hypostyle hall with 32 columns. This was the only room in the tomb that was decorated, though the rooms behind it were prepared for decorations. Of the columns that once graced this hall, six were usurped in antiquity and completely cut away. Most of the decorations funeral process. As we enter this hall turning left, we find a portrait of a guest at Ramose funeral banquet, including his mother, father, brother and sister-in-law. Note that most of these reliefs are unpainted with the exception of the eyes. Many scholars feel this particular scene represents one of the best pieces of ancient art to be found in the world. Every curl of a wig, bead of a necklace and soft fold of a garment is rendered in skilled detail.

Guest at the Funeral Banquet

Turning the corner, on the next wall is the funeral procession. The first scene is the only painted scene in the entire tomb (not relief), and shows servants carrying the burial riches of the deceased. In the next scene on this wall, a group of women with arms stretched to the heavens morn the loss of Ramose. This scene is considered a masterpiece of 18th dynasty art, portraying a real feeling of grief. But note that as we continue, their is less detail in the unfinished reliefs, and even some scenes that were only to the stage of being sketched.

On the left rear wall of the hypostyle hall is a scene of Ramose before Akhenaton and the goddess Ma'at, making offerings of flowers, while on the right rear wall the first scene is of Ramose being awarded the "gold of honor" by Akhenaton and his wife, Nefertiti. The second scene on this wall is of Ramose receiving a foreign delegation and also receiving flowers from the Temple.

There are no decorations on the next (west) wall. On the right front wall of this hall, we first encounter a scene depicting priests before the deceased and his family, along with a ritual list of magical offerings. Next comes a scene with three maidens with sistra before Ramose and his wife, purifying the deceased's statue. The last scene is one of Ramose, his wife and bearers of offerings burning incense.

This hyperstyle hall leads to a second hall with eight columns, which in turn leads to the chapel at the rear of the tomb. However, this rear section of the tomb is currently closed.






Reference Number

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Siliotti, Alberto


Barnes & Noble Books

ISBN 0-7607-0483-x

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ISBN 0-19-815034-2

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ISBN 1-5866-3295-7