What are the Tombs of the Nobles?
The purpose of building the Tombs of the Nobles
The Nobles’ tombs were built as a burial site for high-ranking officials and nobles who served the pharaohs during the New Kingdom period of ancient Egypt.
These officials and nobles were responsible for the administration of the country, the management of the pharaoh’s estates, and the organization of religious ceremonies.
They were considered essential members of society and were granted the privilege of being buried in the tombs of the Nobles, a location that was considered prestigious.
The tombs in the Valley of the Nobles were built to be eternal resting places for the deceased officials and nobles. They were designed to provide a comfortable afterlife with food, clothing,
and other necessities. The tomb decorations were also intended to help the occupants in the afterlife by depicting scenes from their daily lives and their relationships with the gods.
In addition to providing a final resting place for the deceased, constructing the tombs in the Nobles’ tombs also allowed the pharaohs to demonstrate their power and wealth.
The structure of these elaborate tombs required significant resources and skilled labor, and their decoration with colorful paintings and inscriptions
was a testament to ancient Egyptian artists’ and craftsmen’s skill and creativity.
The Construction of the Valley of the Nobles
The Valley of the Nobles is a complex of tombs located on the west bank of the Nile River in Luxor, Egypt. It was constructed during the New Kingdom period of Ancient Egypt,
which lasted from the 16th century BCE to the 11th century BCE.
The construction of the Valley of the Nobles began during the reign of Pharaoh Thutmose III, who ruled from 1479 BCE to 1425 BCE. The valley was a burial place for the high officials and nobles of the pharaohs and their families.
The tombs in the Valley of the Nobles were carved into the sides of the mountains that line the valley. The construction of these tombs was a complex process that involved careful planning and skilled craftsmanship.
The process began with the selection of a suitable location for the tomb. Once a site was chosen, the area was cleared of debris, and the rock face was smooth.
Next, the outline of the tomb was marked out on the rock face. This was done using grids and measuring tools to ensure that the tomb was symmetrical and the correct size.
The craftsmen then began to carve the tomb out of the rock. This involved removing the stone from the tomb and leaving the walls and ceiling intact.
Once the tomb’s main chamber was carved out, the craftsmen began to decorate the walls and ceiling with intricate hieroglyphics and scenes from the life of the tomb’s owner.
These decorations were painted with natural pigments and often depicted the tomb’s owner with their family, engaged in various activities and receiving offerings from the gods.
Finally, the tomb was sealed with a large stone door, and a shaft was dug down to access the burial chamber. The burial chamber was often lined with sarcophagi and contained
the mummified remains of the tomb’s owner and their family members.
The construction of the Valley of the Nobles continued throughout the New Kingdom period, and many of the tombs built during this time are still standing today,
providing a glimpse into the lives and beliefs of the ancient Egyptians.
The Most Famous tombs in the Valley of the Nobles
1- Mekhu and Sabni’s Tombs
The tombs of father and son rulers Mekhu and Sabni originate from the lengthy reign of 6th-dynasty Pharaoh Pepi II (2278–2184 BC).
Sabni’s tomb reliefs depict how he led his army into Nubia to punish the tribe guilty of murdering his father during a previous military expedition and to reclaim his father’s remains.
Pepi II sent him his royal embalmers and professional mourners upon his return to demonstrate the significance he placed on the guardians of the southern boundary.
Several reliefs in Sabni’s tomb have been preserved in their original hues, and there are also magnificent hunting and fishing scenes representing him with his daughters in the pillared hall.
2- Sarenput II’s Tomb
Sarenput was the local governor and supervisor of the priesthood of Satet and Khnum under Pharaoh Amenemhat II of the 12th dynasty (1922–1878 BC).
It is one of the most magnificent and well-preserved tombs, with vibrant hues. A six-pillared entry chamber leads onto a hallway with six niches containing Sarenput figures.
The burial room features four columns and a niche, wall paintings of Sarenput with his wife and mother, and hunting and fishing scenes.
3- Harkhuf’s Tomb
The tomb of Harkhuf, governor of the south during the reign of Pharaoh Pepi II, is sparsely painted, except for three noteworthy hieroglyphic tablets detailing his three trade journeys into Central Africa,
which are located to the right of the entrance.
Pepi II, then only eight years old, advises Harkhuf to care for the ‘dancing pygmy’ he acquired on his travels since the pharaoh was eager to meet him in Memphis.
‘More than the gifts of Sinai or Punt, my majesty craves to see this pygmy,’ Harkhuf writes. The small hieroglyph figure of the pygmy may be seen multiple times throughout the text if you look closely.
4- Hekaib’s Tomb
During the reign of Pharaoh Pepi II, Hekaib, also known as Pepinakht, was in charge of foreign troops. He was dispatched to subdue rebellions in both Nubia and Palestine.
His death was even revered, as shown by the tiny temple of Hekaib on Elephantine Island during the Middle Kingdom (c1900 BC). Fine reliefs depict battling bulls and hunting scenes.
5- Sarenput I’s Tomb
The court of Sarenput I’s tomb, grandfather of Sarenput II and governor under Pharaoh Sesostris I’s 12th Dynasty reign (1965–1920 BC), has the ruins of six relief-decorated pillars.
Sarenput is pictured being followed by his hounds and sandal-bearer, his flower-bearing harem, his wife, and his three sons on each side of the entryway.
6- Al Hawa Kubbet
This modest tomb, built for a local sheik on the hilltop above the Tombs of the Nobles, may be found above the Nobles. The problematic ascent is rewarded with breathtaking views of the Nile and its surroundings.
7- Western Quarry
The ancient Western Quarry (Gebel Simaan), located in the desert to the west of the Tomb of the Nobles, was where stone for several old structures, potentially including the Colossi of Memnon, was mined.
8-The Tomb of Nakht
He was Amun’s priest, scribe, and astronomer during the reign of King Thutmosis IV in the Eighteenth Dynasty. His tomb is magnificent,
and the first room is like a museum for its paintings and scenes depicting real and daily life.
9-The Tomb of Ramose
This tomb belongs to Ramose, who was the mayor of Thebes during the reign of Amenhotep III. The tomb is known for its vivid and well-preserved wall paintings depicting daily life scenes and religious beliefs.
It is in the heart of the Sheikh Abd El-Qurna area. Its structure is in the typical style of the 18th Dynasty: a staircase descends that leads to a courtyard that ends. With a corridor that leads to an antechamber.
From the antechamber, there is access to another corridor that leads to a room with 8 columns. The walls of the two rooms have been prepared for decorations that are not carried out. Only the corridors are decorated.
10-The Tomb of Menna
Menna was an 18th Dynasty official who served as the overseer of fields during the reign of Thutmose IV. The tomb is known for its vibrant wall paintings that depict scenes of agriculture and daily life.
11-The Tomb of Rejmira
He was the vizier of the 18th dynasty to King Tutmosis III and Amenhotep II. It is in the shape of a “T.” Still, it is famous for decorating its walls that represent the work and activities of Rejmira,
the drawings of agriculture and hunting, funeral rites, other trades, and daily life.
12-The Tomb of Sennefer
He was a prince during the reign of Amenhotep II. His tomb is richly decorated with scenes from the Book of the Dead and depictions of the pharaoh with his wife, Merit.
The ceiling of the tomb is painted with bunches of black grapes.
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