The Tomb of Shuroy
by John Watson
Tomb TT13, a small, T-shaped, two chambered structure on the West Bank at Luxor belongs to Shuroy, and his wife, Wernefer. It is located at Dra Abu el-Naga. He was the Head of the Brazier Bearers in the Temple of Amun at Karnak sometime during the 19th Dynasty, while his wife was a chantress of Amun. His tomb is characterized by scenes that are rapidly drawn, sometimes only in red ink outlines. They usually lack details. The coloration is soft, almost pastels, applied to a light grey or white background, with the heavy use of blue.
This tomb was clearly unfinished, and a great part of its plasterwork has disappeared. It was the subject of a successful restoration in 2002.
The modern entrance to this tomb is cut into the rear chamber, so to view the paintings in the correct sequence, one must first move to the smaller vestibule and begin at the tomb's original entrance.
Upon entering this tomb, one will find, within the right thickness of the doorway, a depiction of Shuroy and his wife in a pose of adoration. Only the upper part of their bodies is now visible. Each faces toward the tomb. On the left hand thickness of the door is a woman whose features are only sketched in red paint, but she appears to hold the sistrum of Hathor.
Within the first chamber, the ceiling is painted with two different geometric patterns. It is divided into panels that are separated from one another by thick, gold colored borders and framed by white, red and black lines. Just below the ceiling, a thick yellow band bordered by two red lines encircle the room, separating the registers from the ceiling.
Though columns for hieroglyphs are present, separated by vertical blue and red lines, no text was ever entered. Here, in the first chamber, the first quarter of the left wall was not completed, lacking even the plaster that would normally have been applied. Nevertheless, the artists painted over the unfinished wall using red ocher to outline the scenes. On the left side of the chamber, in the upper register, are scenes from the Book of Gates that depict Shuroy and his wife before various deities and guardians of the gates of the netherworld. The first parts of these scenes are unfinished. However, we can see in the finished parts the beautifully curled wig of the wife surmounted by a lotus flower. She wears a nearly transparent dress.
At about the center of the left wall, the couple stands before a table of offerings heavily laden with various items, including breads, meats, mandrakes, grapes and cucumbers. To the right of this, Re-Harakhty, holding a scepter and an ankh-sign, sits in a kiosk holding an ankh symbol and a was-scepter. The kiosk is splendidly adorned. He faces left toward a standing figure of the goddess Ma'at. Though the god's figure is well painted, his arms and legs are disproportionately long and thin. This almost makes the scene appear to be a caricature rather than a formal ancient Egyptian drawing.
In the register below, which is now mostly destroyed, Shuroy and his wife stand in worship before various deities and a king and queen who are not identified.
The front wall and the right side wall continue the representations from the Book of Gates, as if they were one wall, with various genie shown in the same order as on the left wall. The scenes begin on the front wall, with a very damaged depiction of Shuroy holding a stem of papyrus in his right hand. Before him is a door, but also the representation of a genie, who stands on a pedestal with a scepter in his hand. As on the left wall, the couple moves on from gate to gate within these scenes. Also as on the left wall, here we find Shuroy, with a shaven head and dressed in a loincloth, facing another kiosk, or shrine. About him are tables of offerings. This time, the shrine contains Osiris, with dark green flesh, as he is often painted. In front of Osiris, rising from a lotus flower, are the Four Sons of Horus.
On the left side of the chamber's rear wall, a large, damaged, personified djed-pillar, surmounting a large hieroglyph meaning "the West", is clothed in linen and a red sash, and apparently holds the crook and flail. Then, on the right side of the rear wall, we once again find a similar personified djed-pillar, but below this one are variously shaped loaves of bread and vessels. The depiction of the bread loaves are well drawn. The small dots painted across the bread's surface are similar to those made by modern Upper Egyptian women when baking at home. They claim that the holes ensure that the loaves bake evenly.
On the thickness of the doorway of the second chamber, two badly destroyed figures of Shuroy (on the right) and his wife (on the left) were drawn in red ink only.
The second chamber has short walls at the north and south that are not decorated, or at least are no longer decorated. This use to be the entrance to the tomb.The ceiling of this chamber was decorated with a light yellow and white checkerboard pattern and a series of red and yellow circles arranged in large squares.
Within the second chamber, four registers adorn the long front wall to the right of the door. In the upper register, twenty-two male offering bearers stride forward. Nineteen of them carry large, crudely painted boxes on their heads. The three others have bundles of vegetables.
In the next register down, Shuroy and an unknown male relative are shown approaching a garden. To the right are a small group of crudely drawn trees, with servants sitting beneath them. The servants all are holding their heads in their hands, as if sleeping.
In the next lower register, a funeral procession proceeds forward with servants bearing foodstuffs, while others are squatting before baskets of vegetables. At the right side of the scene, men carry a yoke on their shoulders to which chests are attached, as a cow walks to the right of them. In these scenes, there is a distinct separation between nobles bearing offerings and the servants who toil with the majority of offerings and funerary equipment. The rich clothing of the nobles distinguishes them from the simple bearers with their loincloths who follow them.
In the lowest register, the procession continues, with young, naked girls dancing beside their mother in the center of the register. Their hands are in the air, and their knees are bent as if they are jumping or skipping. Shuroy's mummy stands at the right end of the wall, with a group of male bearers walking toward the mummy. Mourning women kneel at his feet, wailing and pouring dirt on their heads.
At the top left of the rear wall, a priest grasps instruments to be used in the Opening of the Mouth ritual. A female mourner stands in front of the mummy, along with other women. Below this, Shuroy is seen kneeling and holds braziers before a figure of Hathor, shown as a cow with an elaborate plumed headdress. She is emerging from a mountain. In this scene, which occurs at the end of the funerary procession, the servants and nobles who, in the procession, were separated, now mingle.
Within the central niche in the rear wall, little is preserved but for a figure of a squatting man on the right. Shuroy is behind the man, offering braziers, and behind him is his wife and another unidentified male. Originally, there were women depicted to the left of Shuroy.
The tomb of Shuroy was well restored and does have vivid colors. Though incomplete, its unfinished nature is also instructive from an artistic standpoint.