Tomb of Ramose (TT55)
Ramose was ‘Governor of the Town’ (Thebes) and Vizier during the Dynasty XVIII transition of the reigns of Amenhotep III and IV. His tomb in the village area of Sheikh ‘Abd el-Qurna reflects his important position in the royal court and it is interesting because it represents the change in style towards ‘Amarna art’. It is uncertain whether the deceased was ever buried in this tomb, or whether he followed Akhenaten to his new capital, Akhetaten, but no tomb has been found for Ramose there.
The plan of the tomb is a traditional T-shape but built on a very large scale with some of the most beautiful relief carvings of any Theban tomb. A wide stairway leads down to the courtyard in front of the tomb and the entrance leads into a large transverse hall, its roof once supported by four rows of eight papyrus columns. Some of these have recently been restored. There has been a great deal of damage to the tomb, to the reliefs depicting Akhenaten, but also because of a collapsed ceiling, although this probably contributed to the preservation of the remaining reliefs. The tomb was also usurped by another individual at a later date.
The wall on the left of the entrance shows Ramose, wearing the gown of a vizier consecrating offerings to Amun-Re, Re-Horakhty, Atum and Khepri and followed by his attendants. The scenes of the banquet on this wall are particularly beautiful, carved with very fine detail on limestone and left uncoloured except for the eyes of the figures. Each guest, some of them the relatives of the deceased, is named in the accompanying texts. These say that Ramose married his brother’s daughter, Meryt-Ptah.
The end wall on the south side portrays the funeral procession in two long registers. The floor at this wall slopes steeply down into the burial shaft below, which is sometimes accessible. This wall was not carved but its paintings show very good colour and detail of the funerary goods being transported to the tomb with the procession of mourners moving towards the Western Goddess. The canopic jars in their shrine are taken with the sarcophagus to the tomb on sleds. Before them is an unusual scene of the ‘teknu’ – a mysterious part of the funerary ritual. There are many opinions about what the ‘teknu’ was: one idea is that it was a priest wrapped in skins and transported on a sled in some kind of ritual of rebirth, while others suggest it was the wrapped internal organs of the deceased which were not placed in canopic jars. The ‘teknu’ in this scene can be seen clearly to be the shape of a man crouching, with his feet showing.
The second register shows more of the procession with the tomb furnishings and burial goods being carried to the tomb. A group of mourning women dressed in white robes with their hair loose, are shown in a well-known scene at the centre of the procession. Further on nine kneeling women wail and cover their heads with ashes and bare-chested women dressed in yellow and red beat their breasts. Unfortunately the captions for these scenes are incomplete. At the end of the wall the two registers are linked together ending before the Western Goddess where the deceased is before his tomb entrance.
The west wall is damaged and difficult to recognise but has four unfinished figures of Ramose, the last offering a bouquet to a king in a kiosk with the traditional nine enemies on its base. The cartouche is that of Amenhotep and the damaged epithet ‘great in his time’, suggests that the ruler was Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten) portrayed in his earlier years in the formal style of his father Amenhotep III. Behind him sits the goddess Ma’at in the classic style. In the centre of the west wall is the entrance to the unfinished inner chamber where Ramose is portrayed entering the tomb, with an autobiographical text appealing to the gods to recognise his good character.
On the right of the entrance Ramose can be seen kneeling prostrated before Amenhotep IV and his queen Nefertiti, who are shown in the ‘Window of Appearances’ with the rays of the Aten showering down on them. This relief is executed in the new style of Amarna art and was defaced, presumably after Akhenaten’s reign ended. Ramose is shown receiving the ‘Gold of Honour’ one of the highest awards in the land, and many courtiers and officials are bowing low before the royal couple. Beyond this scene the wall is unfinished. Drawings have been sketched in but were left uncarved. These show foreign delegates (four Nubians, three Asiatics and a Libyan) coming to pay homage and offer tribute to the king.
The north wall of the tomb is undecorated, but the wall to the right of the tomb entrance is again decorated with traditional fine reliefs. There is an Iun-mutef priest dressed in a panther skin with a comprehensive list of offerings for the soul of the deceased. Many family members are again shown on this wall. A statue of Ramose dressed in his long vizier’s robe with a heart amulet around his neck, is being purified by two priests. In the scene above, Ramose and his wife face three girls holding out sistra and menat to the deceased in another beautiful relief. Next to the entrance Ramose and his wife are depicted with offering bringers burning incense.
The tomb of Ramose is open 6.00am to 4.00pm in winter. A ticket for the tombs of Ramose, Userhet and Khaemhet can be bought at the ticket office.