This past Tuesday, authorities in Egypt announced the discovery of a new tomb on the West Bank of Luxor: that of Amenhotep, guardian of the Temple of Amun, and his wife.
The American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE) discovered the tomb quite by chance in the courtyard of another tomb, TT110, that of Djehuty, who held the position of Royal Butler under both Hatshepsut and her stepson, Thutmose III.
Amenhotep’s role, ‘Gatekeeper of Amun’, was one to be proud of. He guarded the sacred precinct of the god, controlling the portal between the earthly world and the divine realm of the gods.
Based on the style of artwork in the tomb, it likely dates to Egypt’s 18th Dynasty, around 1400 B.C. The walls of the tomb are beautifully decorated with scenes of Amenhotep and his wife seated before a table piled high with food, honouring the gods by bringing them offerings, as well as daily scenes of food production designed to forever keep the couple well-fed in the afterlife.
The tomb has been extensively looted in antiquity, and is now largely filled with debris. As well as natural wear and tear, the painted scenes bear signs of deliberate damage: especially to areas that include the name of the god Amun.
It is likely that around 50 years after Amenhotep’s tomb was constructed, workers re-entered it – but this time with destructive intent. This was the reign of the maverick pharaoh, Akhenaten, whose religious obsession elevated the status of a relatively minor solar deity, Aten, to that of supreme god. The loser in Aten’s promotion was the state god Amun. Akhenaten ordered the erasure of Amun’s name and image wherever it appeared in temples and tombs - even if it was within an individual’s name like Amenhotep.
A shaft probably leading to the burial chamber is yet to be explored. The plan is to clear and conserve the tomb in order to open it to visitors.
Photo: Ministry of Antiquities