Egypt: The Tomb of Foreman Inherkhau (Inherkau)

The Tomb of Foreman Inherkhau

by Jimmy Dunn writing as Mark Andrews

Tomb of Foreman Inherkhau

Inherkhau had the title "Foreman of the Lord of the Two Lands in the Place of Truth". He lived and worked during the time reigns of Ramesses III and Ramesses IV in the 20th Dynasty. He had an important position in life, and so in death his tomb, TT 359 located in the necropolis of Deir el-Medina on the West Bank at Luxor, has extremely rich and refined decorations. It represents some of the best artistic work of the 20th Dynasty, and is the only tomb in this necropolis that we know of dating from that dynasty. There are decorations in an upper chamber and the burial chamber, all painted on a yellow background.

Inherkhau and his Ba

Inherkhau and his Ba

On the West Bank, at Thebes, work on tombs was supervised by two foreman, one of whom was responsible for work on the left side of the tomb and the other in charge of the right side. It was a position that was probably at first appointed by the vizier, but later became hereditary. Foreman not only supervised work but also worked with a scribe to distribute materials for work and payment and they were also prominent in the local court. The foreman was assisted by a deputy, who was usually a relative.

Inherkhau before Horus as a Hawk

Inherkhau before Horus as a Hawk

Inherkhau's great grandfather obtained the position of foreman during the reign of Ramesses II. The family apparently held onto this position, and we believe that Inherkau joined the workforce as an ordinary laborer, but but the age of 17 became his father's deputy foreman. He may have worked as late as the reign of Ramesses VII.

Anubis offers Inherkhau a heart

Anubis offers Inherkhau a heart.

cow pattern from the upper chamber ceiling

cow pattern from the upper chamber ceiling

The upper chamber has scenes from the Book of Gates, text from the Book of the Dead, and one image of Inherkhau and his wife facing kings and queens. In this last scene, the couple offers incense to kings and queens of the 18th through 20th Dynasty. On the ceiling are unusual patterns made up of rosettes and spirals intertwined with the names of Inherkau and his wife, Wabet. There are other patterns as well, and each is separated by lines of text. Another pattern depicts the heads of cattle topped with a sun disk between yellow spirals. But the most beautiful pictures are those found in the deep burial chamber, including seventeen scenes in three registers to the left and fourteen scenes in three registers to the right. The scenes on the left mostly deal with the afterworld, while those on the right portray mythological creatures.

Cat Killing the Snake

Cat Killing the Snake

Thoth introduces Inherkhau to Osiris

Thoth introduces Inherkhau to Osiris

Upon entering the burial chamber, we encounter a scene on the left front wall of relatives offering libations to the deceased. The first significant scene we encounter on the left wall depicts the god Thoth introducing the deceased into the presence of Osiris. Next, we find a distinctive scene of Inherkhau dressed in leopard skin like a priest. His head is shaved. Next there is a depiction of the souls of Pe and of Nekhen paying respect to the deceased. The next scene is a wonderful painting of a blind harpist playing before Inherkhau and his wife, while the last significant scene on this wall is a well known portrayal of the Cat of Heliopolis killing the serpent Apophis under the Persea holy tree. The cat is linked with the sun god Ra. In Egyptian mythology, the bargue of the sun god was threatened by the snake daily as it passed through the underworld. This snake is a symbol of chaos that had to be ritually killed.

Inherkhau with his wife receive offerings from two sons,  while surrounded by four grandchildren

Inherkhau with his wife receive offerings from two sons,
while surrounded by four grandchildren

Other scenes on the left wall include the deceased worshiping a benu-bird wearing the crown of the god, Osiris, the deceased worshiping Horus in the form of a falcon and Anubis offering a heart to the the mummy of the deceased. The heart was believed by the ancient Egyptians to be the seat of human intelligence and was one of the few organs not removed from the body during mummification.

Inherkhau dressed as a priest with a shaved head

Inherkhau dressed as a priest with a shaved head

The back wall of the chamber is very beautiful with a scene depicting the deceased with his two sons, Kenna and Armin, offering two torches to the god Ptah, on the left, and Osiris, on the right.

At the rear of the right wall, the first significant scene we find is of the deceased and his wife receiving offerings from two of their sons, while four grandchildren play about their feet. In the next set of scenes, the top register depicts Inherkhau worshiping the four jackals pulling the solar bark during its nighttime journey. In the bottom register, the deceased is in the presence of five priests, the first of whom is holding a rod with a ram' head. Other scenes on the right wall depict the deceased adoring the horizon, the deceased seated with relatives, one of whom carries a snake rod, the deceased worshipping a snake and the deceased worshipping his ba. The ba was one form of the human soul according to Egyptian mythology.

No funerary equipment has survived from Inherkhau's tomb, so it must be assumed that it was robbed during antiquity. It was visited as early as the beginning of the 19th century, and after that time, collectors have been responsible for removing scenes, but much of the tomb was spared.

Inherkhau worships the four jackals

Inherkhau worships the four jackals

Inherkhau pays homage to Pe, a mythical town in Lower Egypt

Inherkhau pays homage to Pe, a mythical town in Lower Egypt

The three figures before him are incarnations of Horus, Imsety and Hapi






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None Stated

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