Egypt: The Tomb of Zed-Amun-efankh in the Bahariya Oasis

The Tomb of Zed-Amun-efankh in the Bahariya Oasis

Jimmy Dunn writing as Brian Rosewood

The Bahariya Oasis enjoyed a golden age during the 26th Dynasty, particularly during the reign of Ahmose II (570-526 BC) Afterwards, the Persians came to Egypt and the whole of the country suffered, but again, with the Greeks and even the Romans, the Bahariya Oasis flourished once again.

Zed-Amun-efankh lived and prospered during Ahmose IIs rule, and he built a fine tomb which lies on the eastern ridge of the modern city of Bawiti. In fact, his familys wealth apparently became even more impressive later, for his sons nearby tomb is even larger and perhaps more elaborate than the fathers.

Nevertheless, Zed-Amun-efankhs tomb is very interesting, for some of its architectural elements are somewhat unusual for this area. For one thing, while other tombs had separate burial chambers with square, column (pillar) supports, his is a single room with four rounded columns. Regrettably, the tomb was robbed during antiquity, and again even as late as the 20th century, when some mummies, beads and amulets were taken. Luckily, the tomb still portrays some grand decorations and is useful to our understanding of early life in this Oasis.

For example, we know from his tomb that Zed-Amun-efankh was probably not a religious or political official. Yet the wall paintings and the skill, precision and craft that went into building his tomb all attest to his being a respected and powerful man in this community. It is likely that he was a businessman or landowner, as were his decedents, and it is equally likely that men such as Zed-Amun-efankh became some of the richest individuals in the Oasis because of the lucrative trade in the Oasis products, such as wine. His tomb proves that in at least this region, the ancient Egyptians believed that wealth could buy eternity, regardless of any lack in administrative or religious status.

Within the tomb, on its northern wall just after the entrance, is an inscription of the four sons of Horus that translates to, "An Offering that the king gives to the Ka of the honored one under the Great God to Osiris Zed-Amun-efankh, son of Weben-Iah, ture of voice. The honored one, his son, who stands behind him", A priest is also depicted, who carries red linen, presumable the material with which Zed-Amun-efankhs mummy was wrapped. Two of the God, Horus sons, the falcon headed Duamutef and his brother, Qebehsenuef are shown protecting the deceased holding knives. The other two sons are also depicted and near them is a an unidentified man offering a wooden box.

Repeatedly, Osiris, the god of the underworld is depicted within the tomb, along with Thoth, the god of wisdom who was also associated with the moon. The Hieroglyphs for used for Zed-Amun-efankh includes several repetitions of the moons symbol. We believe that Thoth was revered in the Baharyia Oasis, where travel and many other activities took place at night due to the heat.

Duamutef with his knife

Regrettably, the scenes on the western wall are mostly gone, but one remaining depiction shows four men and women raising their hands as if in a ritual gesture. Also shown is the wife of the deceased, wearing a shawl with fringe which does not seem entirely Egyptian, in a pose of praise. She may have been of foreign decent.

There are no less than seven false doors within the tomb, and on the cornices of each is inscribed the name of the deceased. Interestingly six of the doors were cut into during the Roman period in order to create additional burial chambers. However, the craftsman who did this work took care not to damage the inscriptions. Hence, the remained respectful to the deceased, yet the new burial chambers were left undecorated and roughly chiseled.

The ceiling of this tomb is decorated with twelve vultures, the symbol of the goddess Nikhbet, which are surrounded by stars of five and six points.






Reference Number

Egypt in Late Antiquity

Bagnall, Roger S.


Princeton University Press

ISBN 0-691-1096-x

Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, The

Shaw, Ian


Oxford University Press

ISBN 0-19-815034-2

Valley of the Golden Mummies

Hawass, Zahi


American University in Cairo Press

ISBN 977 424 585 7


Last Updated: June 22nd, 2011