Friday, 25 December 2009

Mummification Museum Lecture - TT33 Padiamenope ala Petamenophis – Pr Claude Traunecker.Petame

TT33 Padiamenope ala Petamenophis – Pr Claude Traunecker.

Sadly this lecture was in French so my notes are from the occasional English slide title

The tomb is situated in the Assasif next to Pabasa. It is the largest tomb in Egypt. In 1737 Richard Pocoke thought it was the subterranean palace of a king. It is described in Description de la Egypt and comprises a succession of rooms with an underground burial area. The opening of the tomb was mentioned in a novel by Paul Ivory

In 1881 W Johannes Dumuchen from the University of Strasbourg commented about the architecture, it is a very atypical layout and mentioned his family mother NamenKhetuset and wife Tudit

The tomb was used as storage for many years and many rooms were inaccessible. The tomb was reopened 5th December 2005. here he showed a photo of the reopening and yours truly was in shot!! I wrote some notes at that time which you may wish to look at the end.

The main areas they are working in is
1) Epigraphic
2) Excavating and clearing
3) Restoration of the mudbrick
He shows 2 uncles, 3 aunts, 5 male cousins and 2 female cousins on his mother’s side

He is described as Royal Scribe, Priest of Montu, chief lecture priest of Nekhbet, overseer of the secrets of the 2 royal cobra and house of morning, who takes care of the great of magic (crown).

There is a massive amount of inscriptions from a number of books of the dead it is like a stone subterranean library, an Osirian temple with him as a priest. All the texts hidden in the burial area are also available at the public levels.

My notes from the opening of the tomb
Today was the official opening of the tomb of Petamenophis (Padiamenope, Xry.y-Hb Hrj-tp) (TT33) by Dr Sabry Abd El Aziz, the deputy of Dr Zahi Hawass. It is located next to the tomb of Harwa (TT39). The tomb is hugely significant, being, well huge. At this point, it is the largest tomb in Egypt and yet we really do not know why the owner of it was so blessed, but perhaps future work may reveal this secret.

Indeed, he was a high official, describing himself as "Seal bearer and Sole Beloved Friend, Lector and Scribe of the Records in the Sight of the King". In this inscription the king is not named, but there is an inscription in the northern part of the great outer courtyard, discovered by Lepidus, with a Plan of the Tomb of Petamenophis, a cartouche containing the name of a King Haremhab (Horemheb?), next to the name of Petamenophis. However, stylistically, many scholars believe that Petamenophis' tomb could not be dated as early as the 18th or early 19th dynasty. In this regard, the tomb appears to date no earlier than the Ethiopian Period (when Nubians ruled Egypt). Some scholars believe that Petamenophis may have lived during the rule of Psammetichus I, the first king of the 26th Dynasty. In any event, Petamenophis must have been, to judge from his titles, a learned man and theologian. It should be noted that there is a statue of Petamenophis in the Egyptian Antiquities Museum in Cairo.

The tomb of Petamenophis, located in the Assasif section of tombs on the West Bank at Luxor (ancient Thebes), was first described in detail by Lepidus in his pioneering work, Officials examining the reliefs within the tomb Denkmaeler aus Aegypten und Aethiopien. The tomb was later visited and described separately by Wilkinson, by Duemichen and others, before Maspero, seeing its deteriorating condition and realizing the necessity of protecting it from despoliation, had it sealed at the end of the last century. It remained closed until 1936 when W. F. von Bissing obtained permission to reopen it with the purpose of performing a definitive survey and publication. Braving the “billions of bats” infesting the place and the thick air (the ventilation shafts “left much to be desired”) he persevered, and within two years (1938) published a detailed description of the finds.
Thereafter, for decades, the tomb was used as a storeroom with boxes, some labelled, some not. There were boxes from the tomb of Tutankhamen with biological matter (plants), statues, sarcophagi and altogether some 1,000 objects. There were registers for some of these boxes. One from 1964 was compiled by the Polish team working at Deir el-Bahri, and showed lists which accompanied black and white photos. This material has now been moved to a storage facility near the Carter House near the Valley of the Kings.

Lately, actually over the last two years, a team from the University of Strasbourg, led by M. Traurecker, has been clearing the first three chambers of this huge tomb and it has just now been opened for a first official viewing. The opening was attended by many important officials from the Supreme Council and other archaeologists working in the area, such as Francesco Tiradritti. The next stage will be the cleaning, restoration and conservation of the tomb. It has important texts such as the Book of the Dead which need to be studied. In fact it is one of the most important, if not the most important, source for sacred texts during the period of Egyptian history. For example, there is also a Late Period version of the Book of Caverns in the tomb, which has yielded otherwise missing parts of this text. But the most amazing thing about this tomb is its sheer size, with some 330 meters of corridors.
It may be some time yet before this tomb is open to the public, but perhaps now we may see an end in sight when the public will be able to explore this vast monument. Perhaps, more importantly, there may be more to learn as work progresses toward that end


Brian Yare said...

The opening of this fascinating tomb is shown on a series of 4 videos on YouTube. It appears that they have been merged into a single 53 minute at

The three volume publication of this tomb by Dümichen (he intended to publish 7 volumes) is very rare, but is available in pdf format from Yare Egyptology (

It appears that the tomb owner was a scribe and librarian, and that he actually wanted the tomb to be found. Rather than having a curse, this tomb has a welcoming mesage!

I wish this lecture had been next week (2nd Jan) so that I could have been there. I'm jealous!

Jane Akshar said...

I wish you had been there or at least I spoke French :(

sue c said...

Thank you Brian, a welcome addition to Jane's notes on the lecture. Thank you Jane, I wish I had been there. It sounds a fascinating lecture.

Elena said...

really precious links!

Donald Clark said...

Attended this lecture and found it fascinating but no academic should be allowed to get away with delivering a lecture in a language different from the notices, which were in English. There were many in the room who were surprised and disappointed that this had not been made clear before the lecture began. A translator would have been useful. Luckily my colleague was French, and he helped clarify much for me after the lecture.