The Tomb of Niperpathot at Gebel (Jebel) al-Mawta in the Siwa Oasis of Egypt

The Tomb of Niperpathot at Gebel (Jebel) al-Mawta
in the Siwa Oasis of Egypt

By Jimmy Dunn writing as Kelly Smith

Ground plan of the Tomb of Niperpathot

One of the largest tombs at Gebel al-Mawta in the Siwa Oasis of Egypt is that of Niperpathot. Niperpathot can be translated as "He who belongs to the house of Thot". It belonged to a man whose chief title was "Prophet of Osiris", and this shows that a temple for the god Osiris existed in the Oasis during his lifetime. The prophet was also a "Scribe of the Divine documents", a "Wa'b-priest" and, among his other distinctions, "The great one in his town", "The follower of his god", "The excellent man" and "The straightforward one". The tomb was visited by Steindorff in 1900, but he read the name of the tomb owner as "Pa-Thoth".

Inscriptions in the Burial Chamber of Niperpathot in the Siwa Oasis of Egypt

This tomb has a court which is badly ruined and six small chambers, three on either side of the court. It terminates with the burial chamber, which faces the entrance. The walls of the six side chambers were left un-inscribed, while the small burial chamber is covered with inscriptions and drawings rendered in red. The owner's mummy was placed in a sarcophagus cut in the floor. The lid, which no longer exists, was a stone slap resting on a ledge around the top of the sarcophagus.

The burial chamber itself is more or less square, being 1.75 meters wide and just under two meters long. On the right hand wall, the owner stands with his arms upraised, holding a scepter in one hand. Before him are, one above the other, the famous four boxes of the Sons of Hrous, called meret-boxes, inside of which were garments. The texts tell us that the father of Niperpathot was named Nes-Thot, and that he held the same titles as his son. His mother was Nastit.

On the wall facing the entrance, Niperpathot worships Osiris who sits on a stool with the goddess Hathor beside him. Before Osiris is an offering table and opposite it stands Niperpathot. The tomb owner's head is shaved and he wears a necklace, a long apron with a panther's skin over it and sandals. The stand of the offering table is in the shape of a lotus flower, and over it appears six loaves of bread, a gazelle, two geese and a cucumber. Two vases of wine hang from the table edge, while two others stand beneath it. Hathor is depicted with a human body and a cow's head. Her diadem is the sun-disk between the two horns, surmounted by two feathers.

Niperpathot stands before an offering table with Osiris seated on the other side of it, and behind Osiris, Hathor - Photo copyright Alain Guilleux Une promenade en Egypte

On the wall at the left side of the entrance, just to the right and behind Hathor, a long inscription which is a hymn addressed to the god Thot. To the left on the wall stands Niperpathot, holding in one hand the rope. The ends of the ropes are attached to four calves and in the other hand the owner holds a whip. This depiction represents a well known ceremony called the "dragging of the four calves", which we find on other tomb walls beginning in the 18th Dynasty. The same scene was depicted in temples beginning in the Old Kingdom. The four calves must be of different colors. One is red, the second white, the third black and the fourth is spotted.

Niperpathot and the

This tomb probably dates to the 26th Dynasty, making it one of the oldest in the necropolis. Interestingly, though he was the principal god in the Oasis during the 26th Dynasty, Amun is not mentioned in the tomb at all. Though our knowledge of this period is very limited for the Siwa Oasis, it seems probable that the worship of Osiris was established sometime before the worship of Amun came to prominence, and that there was a temple for Osiris in Siwa with its own priests.

Beware, when visiting this tomb, that it also contains a mummified skull complete with hair, that we are told, the custodian will sometimes produce with a flourish in hopes of startling the visitors.

Some photos copyright Alain Guilleux Une promenade en Egypte






Reference Number

Dictionary of Ancient Egypt, The

Shaw, Ian; Nicholson, Paul


Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers

ISBN 0-8109-3225-3

Siwa Oasis

Fakhry, Ahmed


American University of Cairo Press

ISBN 977 424 123 1

Western Desert of Egypt, The

Vivian, Cassandra


American University in Cairo Press, The

ISBN 977 424 527 X