Tomb of Menna (TT69)

Menna was a ‘Scribe in the fields of the Lord of the Two Lands of Upper and Lower Egypt’ during Dynasty XVIII, and his job was probably to document the records of land ownership. Dated on architectural and stylistic grounds, the reigning king is usually assumed to be Tuthmose IV or Amenhotep III, although there is no mention of the king’s name in the tomb. His wife’s name was Henuttawi, a Chantress of Amun.

Menna & Henuttawy before Osiris

The tomb of Menna can be found in the upper enclosure at Sheikh ‘Abd el-Qurna, to the west of the tomb of Nakht (TT 52). Menna’s tomb is well-known for its superb wall-paintings of scenes of daily life, depicted in bright colours.

The tomb is T-shaped with an entrance passage leading to a large transverse vestibule or hall. On the wall to the left of the entrance, Menna can be seen seated before an offering table laden with food, with a scribe and a petitioner on a smaller scale in front of it. The rest of the wall is devoted to agricultural scenes with detailed depictions of the grain harvest.

Stele of Menna and agricultural scenes

On the left-hand end wall of the hall Menna and his wife are portrayed making offerings to Osiris who is seated in a shrine. Below this scene are eight offering-bearers carrying produce to be placed on two large offering-tables.

The adjoining wall once contained the remains of a banquet scene but is now almost totally destroyed. On the other side of the entrance to the inner tomb Menna and his wife are being offered a bouquet by a shaven-headed priest, before an offering table heaped with produce. The rest of the wall shows guests at a banquet and men carrying offerings below.

The right-hand end wall of the hall is designed in the form of a stela, with double-scenes depicting Anubis, Osiris and the goddess of the West on the left and Re-Horakhty and Hathor on the right, with Menna and his wife. This wall is protected by a glass screen.

On the wall to the right of the tomb entrance Menna makes offerings on a brazier and is followed by his wife and their sons and daughters. Beneath the scene there are men bringing offerings, butchers and three chantresses singing and clapping.

A passage leads into the inner chapel and here Menna and his wife can be seen leaving the tomb to take part in the ‘Beautiful Feast of the Valley’.

The left wall of the chapel depicts the funeral procession with traditional scenes of offering-bringers carrying food and burial equipment to the tomb. The sarcophagus is transported on the river in a barque which is towing another boat containing mourners, and later the sarcophagus can be seen dragged on a sledge towards the Western Goddess and Anubis. The far end of the wall depicts a judgement scene, in which Menna must account for his earthly actions and have his heart weighed. Here it is Horus rather than Anubis who is in charge of the scales and Thoth, god of writing and wisdom, who records the verdict. Osiris, as usual presides over the scene.

In the wall at the far end of the chapel is a statue-niche containing the lower remaining part of a double statue of Menna and his wife. At the sides are two registers of offering-bringers.

The wall on the right-hand side, after the statue-niche contains two scenes of the deceased and his wife receiving offerings from relatives. Next comes some of the most beautiful paintings in the tomb which show Menna with his family in papyrus boats spearing fish and hunting birds with a throw-stick in the marshes. This beautiful scene depicts much of the wildlife in the river and papyrus thickets of Menna’s time – including a crocodile which lurks beneath the boat, and a cat on the top of the thicket trying his luck.

The following part of the wall shows boats in the ‘Abydos Pilgrimage’ with Menna and his wife depicted as statues being taken towards Abydos, with burial goods in another boat. Another scene shows the return from Abydos. The remaining scenes depict the ‘Opening of the Mouth Ritual’, with a priest supporting Menna’s sarcophagus. Two cloaked priests are shown in their ‘waking’ and ‘sleeping’ poses before the mummy. The bottom register has another long line of offering-bringers.

Visit the Manchester Metropolitan University project for a virtual visit to the Tomb of Menna as it looked in 1916.


Opening times are 6.00am to 4.00pm. Tickets for the tombs of Menna and Nakht cost EGP 25 from the ticket office.

~ by Su on February 7, 2009.