Tomb of Nakht (TT52)
Nakht was a scribe who held the title ‘Astronomer of Amun’ or ‘Observer of the Hours’ (of the night) in Dynasty XVIII, probably during the reign of Tuthmose IV or Amenhotep III (based on the style of artwork). His tomb can be found in the village area of Sheikh ‘Abd el-Qurna just east of the tomb of Menna. At the end of the 1980s this tomb underwent an experimental restoration in the hope of finding a satisfactory technique for the preservation of tomb paintings and its walls were covered with glass.
Nakht’s tomb was never completed and the passage, although plastered, did not contain the funerary scenes which would have traditionally appeared there. The wall-paintings in the offering hall or vestibule however, are very colourful and well-preserved and some of the more striking ones are very famous.
The vestibule is a rectangular hall covered with scenes representing daily life in Dynasty XVIII. The wall to the left of the entrance passage depicts Nakht with his wife Tawi (a ‘Chantress of Amun’) in a prominent position before heaps of offerings of food and perfumed ointments and oils to be dedicated to Amun, Re-Horakhty, Osiris, Hathor and Anubis. There are also agricultural scenes in three registers of ploughing, sowing, winnowing, and gathering flax as well as felling trees, depicting a idyllic life in the countryside. In one scene a man is resting in the shade of a tree drinking from a waterskin.
The left-hand end wall of the hall represents a false door painted to look like pink granite, with four registers of offering bringers at the sides and a sub-scene of Nut as a tree-goddess.
The wall to the left side of the entrance to the burial chamber depicts the famous banquet scenes from this tomb. A naked maidservant helps three ladies to prepare themselves for the occasion. Behind this is a blind harpist is sitting with his legs crossed before the festivities. One of the most famous pictures from any Egyptian tomb is in the centre of the banquet scene where a group of three female musicians entertain the guests with flute, lute and harp. The girl in the centre whose head is turned to look behind, is depicted richly jewelled but almost naked for the first time in Egyptian painting. The grace and harmony of this composition is delightful.
On the right of the entrance to the burial chamber Nakht and his wife appear seated before offering tables in two registers. At the end of the wall is a double scene of hunting and fishing in the papyrus marsh, similar to the scene in Menna’s tomb with a variety of birds rising from the reeds. Nakht, shown with a throw-stick, is with his wife and children in a small papyrus boat. His wife Tawi cradles a tiny chick in her hand. Below this scene are two sub-registers depicting food preparation. Grapes are being harvested and pressed to make wine which is then stored in large conical jars with the jar-sealings of the tomb-owner clearly visible. Below, birds are being caught in a net in a papyrus thicket by three naked men. They are then plucked, cleaned and prepared for cooking on a skewer. The scenes in Nakht’s tomb show clearly how a row of men were painted with alternating dark and light skin to represent a number of people. Where three are represented it can also mean ‘many’.
The right-hand end wall is badly preserved and incomplete but depicted offering bearers and priests bringing food and bouquets before Nakht and his wife. The adjacent wall shows the purification of offerings with ointment before the couple in an unfinished scene.
The burial chamber contains the burial shaft and a statue niche but was unfinished and undecorated. A number of objects were discovered in the burial chamber including a statuette of Nakht holding a stela with the ‘Hymn to Re’. Unfortunately this was lost at sea while being transported to the USA in 1915 and only copies remain today.
Opening times are 6.00am to 4.00pm. Tickets for the tombs of Menna and Nakht cost EGP 25 from the ticket office.