Saturday, October 22, 2011

Ramessid Theban Tomb Decoration

Clare Fitzgerald was the guest speaker at the October meeting of the Egyptological Seminar of New York last night. She is working toward her doctorate degree and is preparing a thesis on Ramessid tomb decoration at Thebes.

The speaker drew a number of comparisons between the Theban tombs of the 18th Dynasty and the 19th Dynasty.

18th Dynasty:
  • Mostly “T” shaped, but there are numerous variations Oriented East (entrance) to West (rear of the tomb)
  • A Traverse Hall is followed by a long passageway that leads back to a shrine for the deceased, the shrine often has a false door and / or a stela
  • The facade of the tomb consists of a small court with a frieze of funerary cones above the entrance
  • The thickness of the entrance door has a representation of the tomb owner and (sometimes) his wife
  • Scenes on the wall rarely “turn a corner” to appear partially on one wall and partially on an adjoining wall
  • The traverse hall has daily life scenes (usually)
  • The passage to the rear of the tomb often has funerary scenes (“Opening of the Mouth”, a funeral procession, etc.)
  • A shaft leads to the actual burial chamber
  • The deceased is sometimes shown interacting with the King, rarely is he shown interacting with a god

19th Dynasty:
  • Funerary Cones are gone
  • Stelae often flank the tombs entrance
  • The court often has a Pylon at the entrance A pyramid is sometimes built over the entrance (more common at Dier el-Medina then elsewhere)
  • Scenes sometimes “turn the corner” to be shown on two different walls
  • The deceased is often shown interacting with dieties, rarely shown interacting with the King
  • A sloping passageway leads to the burial chamber, rather than a shaft
  • Daily life scenes lose their prominence and are replaced by funerary scenes and pictures of the gods
  • The funeral scenes show a procession, then the deceased passing the various gates to the underworld, followed by the judgment of the dead
The next meeting of the Egyptological Seminar of New York is on December 9, 2011 at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City.