Tomb of Rekhmire (TT100)
Rekhmire was ‘Governor of the Town’ (Thebes) and ‘Vizier’ during the reigns of Tuthmose III and Amenhotep II of Dynasty XVIII. His tomb can be found on the south-eastern slope of the upper enclosure at Sheikh ‘Abd el-Qurna, a little below the tomb of Sennefer (TT96).
As the highest civil official of the land, Rekhmire built his tomb as a simple T-shaped structure in the traditional style, although on a larger scale and it has the unusual features of a very long passage with a steeply sloping ceiling. The passage does not contain a burial shaft and this leads us to suppose that Rekhmire was buried somewhere else in the necropolis (perhaps in the King’s Valley) although another tomb has never been found. The hall and passage are spectacularly decorated with lively and exceptionally well-preserved scenes, some conventional and some unique. They give important details of daily life in the New Kingdom, making this perhaps the most interesting tomb in the Theban necropolis.
The entrance is decorated with the usual offering texts and prayers. The wall of the hall to the left of the entrance (south-west) shows Rekhmire in the Hall of Judgement inspecting the produce of Egypt including cattle, grain and gold, delivered to him as taxes. The text describes the goods brought from the areas of Elephantine down to Asyut and it was the vizier’s responsibility to receive and account for these taxes for the king. The short wall at the left side of the hall has a long autobiographical text of Rekhmire.
The wall opposite the entrance at the southern end depicts the tribute brought from foreign countries in five registers. In the top register produce from the land of Punt is recorded by scribes and includes incense trees (myrrh), gold and precious stones, ivory, a baboon, monkeys and animal skins. Below this comes the tribute from Keftju (Crete or the Mediterranean Islands), which includes decorative vases, silver, lapis lazuli, and amphorae and pots in the shape of animal heads. The men bringing the tribute are painted wearing Mycenean rather than Minoan kilts, showing that Mycenean trade probably began during the reign of Tuthmose III. In the next register Nubians or Kushites bring various animals – giraffe, leopard, baboons, monkeys cattle and dogs as well as ostrich eggs and feathers. Below, Syrians (from the land of Retjenu) dressed in long white robes and pointed beards bring their tribute in the form of wagons and horses, a bear and an elephant, weapons and metal vessels, copper ingots and pottery. In the bottom register a diverse group of foreigners including women and children are brought by military escort probably as captives or hostages. At the end of the wall is a very damaged scene which once depicted Rekhmire before Tuthmose III seated on his throne.
The wall to the right of the entrance shows scenes of tax collection from the northern regions. Rekhmire supervised the work of artisans in the temple workshops and royal statues and sphinxes are made for the Temple of Amun. Other objects in the top register include necklaces, weapons, and various vessels and furniture, which may have been intended as burial equipment. Below, men bring provisions, with scenes of baking and brewing. At the end of this wall there are agricultural scenes showing the recording of cattle, measuring the crop, and the usual ploughing, sowing and harvesting scenes but these are not well-preserved.
The short wall at the right-hand end of the hall originally contained many members of Rekhmire’s family, but is not now in a very good condition. Rekhmire and his wife Meryt can no longer be seen, but their sons Menkheperresoneb and Amenhotep are named with their wives in the inscriptions along with the tomb-owner’s grandparents and other relatives. Rekhmire’s grandfather Ametju and uncle User were both viziers before him.
The wall opposite the entrance to the right depicts Rekhmire inspecting the produce of the ‘Road to Horus’ – ibex, oryx, wild bulls and hyenas are brought with a hunting dog. Below this is a scene of treading grapes to produce wine and preparing fish and fowl for cooking though these are not as well portrayed as in the tomb of Nakht or Menna. Further along the wall are remaining scenes of hunting in the desert with slain animals heaped up waiting to be recorded by the scribes. There are ostriches, wild bulls, lions, gazelles and hyena in a fenced stockade.
The paintings in the long passage are better-preserved and superb in their detail. Some of those at the far end however, are very high up on the wall and difficult to photograph. Because they are so detailed I will only give a brief outline of their content and order. Beginning on the left-hand wall are six registers where Rekhmire supervises the preparation, storage and distribution of provisions for the temple. Next is a series of scenes in eight registers which includes the industries of the Temple of Amun, including the weighing and recording of gold collected as taxes. The paintings show the artisans at work on their crafts, with leather-workers, rope-makers, carpenters, metal-workers, brick-makers and builders. Sculptors haul stone to be used in the manufacture of two royal colossal statues. These are important scenes showing the methods of production of the crafts of ancient Egypt.
Towards the end of the left-hand wall there are ten registers depicting the funeral procession moving towards the garden of Osiris, where the Goddess of the West waits with Anubis and Osiris to receive the deceased. Pictures include the setting up of two obelisks and a ‘teknu’ and the ‘Pilgrimage to Abydos’. The funeral rites end with Rekhmire and his wife Meryt seated before an offering table while their sons Menkheperresoneb, Mery and Amenhotep offer to their parents. The hieroglyphic text transcribes the offering-list. The end wall had a niche at the top bordered by texts on either side and a false door (now in the Louvre) with the remains of another below.
On the right-hand wall there are more scenes of offering and purification where Rekhmire is shown holding the sekhem-sceptre of his office, with his wife Meryt behind him with their sons Menkheperresoneb, Amenhotep and Senwosret. In ten registers the funeral rites (ceremony of the ‘Opening of the mouth’) are carried out before statues of the deceased. A magnificent walled garden surrounded by trees contains a pool with a boat on it, in which the deceased’s statue is standing, probably also part of the funeral rites.
The funeral banquet comes next, arranged in eight registers showing Rekhmire’s daughters and sons offering to the deceased and his wife. With the guests who are waited on by servants there are male and female singers and musicians playing lutes, tambourines, harps and clappers. In one scene a small servant girl stands behind Rekhmire’s mother and is shown in a back-view – the only known instance of this aspect in ancient Egyptian art.
In the last scenes on this wall Rekhmire takes a journey by boat, returning from ‘Het-sekhem’ (north of Thebes) where he has been received and confirmed in his office presumably by the new ruler, Amenhotep II, a cause for great rejoicing.
The tomb of Rekhmire is open 6.00am to 4.00pm in winter. A ticket for the tombs of Sennefer and Rekhmire can be bought at the ticket office.