Archive for the Lady of the House Category

Harwa – Chief Steward of God’s Wife Amenardis I – XXV Dynasty – TT37

Posted in Amenirdis, Amonardis, Amonirdis, Amoun, Amunardis, Ankhefenamon, Assasif, Divine Votaress, Estaweret, Harwa, Hatnefrumut, Khaneferumut, Khensa, Kush, Kushite, Lady of the House, Neferukakashta, Nestaureret, Padimut, Pebatjma, Pedemut, Pedimut, Peksater, Taharqa, Theban Priest, TT37 with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2009 by

Harwa – Chief Steward of God’s Wife Amenardis I – XXV Dynasty – TT37

Harwa – Chief Steward of Gods Wife Amenardis I – XXV Dynasty of Ancient Egypt

Harwa, “Grand Steward of the Divine Votaress”, High Priest and “Doorkeeper in the Temple of Amun”

Harwa: “Great of the Greats”.

Born in to a family of Theban Priests, Harwa held high office in Thebes (modern-day Luxor) with great responsibility to Amun and God’s Wife of Amun, the Divine Votaress, Amenirdis I. He was son of the “Lady of the House”, Nestaureret (or Estaweret), and of a Priest attached to the temple of Amun in Karnak, Padimut (or Pedemut) son of Ankhefenamon.


His tomb is located in el-Assasif, part of the Theban Necropolis, near to Deir el-Bahri and is known as TT37 (Theban Tomb 37) which has been under archaeological examination for some years and currently not accessible to the public.
“On Friday I attended an EES lecture by Dr Francesco Tiradritti of the Italian Archaeological Mission to the Theban Tombs, held at the The Society of Antiquaries of London. It was a fascinating lecture, and I must admit that up until then I had known very little about the Late Period tombs in this area, so the talk was a true eye opener for me.
The renaissance, or Archaic Revival, of the Late Period has long held a fascination for me, and it’s normally something I think of as having been “kicked off” – as it were – by the Pharaohs of the 26th Dynasty. But these classical Saite signatures, such as the passion for (exquisitely executed!) scenes in the Old Kingdom traditions, and even the inclusion of parts of the Pyramid Texts, can be seen in Harwa’s tomb (TT37, El Assasif) at the height of the 25th Dynasty.
Harwa was the Great Steward of the Adoratrice of Amun, during the reign of Taharqa, and possibly acted as a vassal ruler of the south under him, since the Pharaohs of the 25th Dynasty remained in Nubia and only held power through the Priesthood of Amun, hence Harwa’s great importance. The scale of his tomb would indeed suggest this, for although it’s layout is entirely different, in it’s ambitious design, and in the quality of carving, it is certainly the equal of some royal tombs.
Sadly, time has been unkind to Harwa’s eternal home. Only fragments of the decoration survive, having been re-used for subsequent burials during the Late period, and functioning as a chapel to Osiris in Ptolemaic times. Dr Tiradritti also presented some of the tombs later history that had been unearthed during excavations, including an earlier Italian visit to the tomb by soldiers during the Second World War, leaving behind part of a biscuit packet for future generations.
Thankfully, the team have been able to take advantage of changes in technology over the long course of their work so far (excavation began in 1995, and there is still much work to be done) and this has allowed maps, images and also a complete catalogue of decorative fragments found to be made available on an online database. This has also allowed for digital reconstructions of numerous wall scenes to be made, allowing a much better understanding of the tombs original design.
A multi-lingual web portal has now been online for ten years, and is available at ”

See also:

The Hand of God – Gods Wives of Amun – Ancient Egypt – Karnak Temple Complex

Posted in Abode of Amun, Adoption, Adoratrice, Adoratrix, AEMES, Ahmose, Ahmose Nefertari, Akaluka, Akhamenerau, Amen, Amen-Ra, Amenardis, Amenirdis, Amenirdis the Elder, Amnirdis, Amon, Amonardis, Amonirdis, Amoun, Amun, Amun-Ra, Amunardis, Amunirdis, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Egyptian, Ankh, Ankhnesneferibre, Apries, Atum, Black Pharaohs, cartouche, ceremonies, Chantress, Chantress of Amun, Chief Priestess, Co-Regent, consort, Coronation Name, creation myth, De Ese Hebsed, Divine Adoratice of Amun, Divine Adoratrice, Divine Adoratrice of Amun, Divine Adoratrices, Divine Adoratrix, Divine One, Divine Votaress, Divine Wife, Doorkeeper in the Temple of Amun, Dynastic, Dynasty, Egypt, Egyptian Goddess, Egyptian History, Egyptian Queen, Egyptological Research, Egyptologists, Egyptology, EgyptSites, falcon tail feathers, False Door, First Prophet, Flagellum, God, Goddess, Gods Hand, Gods Wife, Gods Wife of Amun, Great Royal Wife, Harwa, Hatshepsut, Heka Djet, Henuttawy, Hieroglyphic, Hieroglyphics, Hieroglyphs, High Priest of Amun, High Priestess, High Priests, Inner Abode of Amun, Ished Trees, Isis, Karnak, Karnak Temple, Kashta, Khonsu, King Kashta, Kush, Kushite, Kushite Queen, Lady of the House, Late Period, Lord of Life, Lord of Thebes, Luxor, Luxor Egypt, Maat, Maatkare, Menat, Middle Kingdom, Min, Misr, Museum, Mut, Neb Ankh, New Kingdom, Nitocris, Nitoqret, Nubian, Nubian King, Nubian Queens, Oracle, Osiris, Osiris Hall, Osorkon, Peshuper, Pharaoh, Pharaohs, Pinudjem, Precinct of Amun, Prenomen, Priest, Princess of Nubia, Psamtik, Ptah, Ptolemaic Temple, Queen Amenirdis, Queen Amunirdis, Queen of Egypt, religious ceremonies, Research, royal ladies, Royal Uraeus, Ruler of Eternity, Saite, Saite Dynasty, Scribe, Shabaka, Shabaka Neferkare, Shabaqo, Shabitko, Shebitku, Shepenupet, Shepenwepet, Sheshonq, Shrine, shwty plumes, Sistrum, Sole wife of the God, Taharqa, Taharqo, Takelot, Tanis, Tantamani, Temple of Amun, Temple of Khonsu, Temple of Ptah, Temples, Theban, Thebes, Third Intermediate Period, Tiye and Nefertari, Tomb, Tombs, Twenty Fifth Dynasty, Two Lands, Upper Egypt, Uraeus, Votaress, vulture headdress, Wahibre, Waset,,,,, XXIII, XXIV, XXV, XXV Dynasty, XXVI, XXVI Dynasty with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2009 by

The “Hand of God” – “God’s Wives of Amun” – Ancient Egypt – Karnak Temple Complex

“I had recently become very interested in the religious role of ‘God’s Wife of Amun’ so I set off for the northern part of Karnak to investigate their shrines. At least this was away from the more crowded areas of the temples, which became more deserted as I walked past the open air museum on the path towards the Temple of Ptah. There are several chapels of the Gods’ Wives on the left hand side of the path, in various states of ruin, but some still had some interesting reliefs.

Path to the shrines at Karnak

During the Late Period the wives of kings are rarely represented, but in Thebes, the female office of the ‘God’s Wife of Amun’, or ‘Divine Adoratrice’ is often seen as supremely important, a figure holding a position of power and wealth even greater than that of the High Priest. The title of ‘God’s Wife’ can be traced right back to the Middle Kingdom, but the office became more prominent at the beginning of the New Kingdom, with Ahmose-Nefertari, wife of Ahmose I, whose donation stele found at Karnak, tells us much about her role. At that time the title was usually given to the wife of the reigning king, her names were written in a cartouche and she was often succeeded by her daughter. Many royal ladies of the New Kingdom were associated with this office, at least nominally, including Queens Hatshepsut, Tiye and Nefertari.

Duties of the God’s Wife were essentially religious, associated with musical ceremonies and titles such as ‘Chantress of the Abode of Amun’, and often with fertility connotations. Her function was to play the part of the consort of the god Amun in religious ceremonies, stressing the belief that kings were conceived from the union between Amun and the Great Royal Wife. The title ‘The Hand of the God’ was also sometimes used when referring to her relationship to Atum in a creation myth – Atum’s hand being regarded as female. The regalia changed through Dynasties XVIII to XX, but usually included the vulture headdress with uraeus and often the shwty plumes, or falcon tail feathers worn by Amun and Min, or sometimes the sundisc and Hathor horns on a modius, a sort of circular crown. In the later new Kingdom a pleated robe with a red sash replaced the earlier slim sheath dress. Her insignia included the sistrum, menat, a variety of musical instruments and the flagellum.

God's Wives Shepenwepet & AmenirdisFrom Dynasty XXI onwards it was always the king’s unmarried daughter or sister who was given the title of ‘God’s Wife’ and the role became increasingly important. Maatkare, daughter of Pinudjem I is depicted as God’s Wife in the Temple of Khonsu at the southern side of Karnak. Her titles were ‘Divine Adoratrice, sole wife of the god’. Henuttawy, daughter of Pinudjem II is also depicted here. It was from this time on that the God’s Wives adopted a coronation name as well as a birth name. During the reigns of the Libyan kings, their sons were given the office of High Priest of Amun and their daughters the title of ‘God’s Wife of Amun’. Some of the daughters of Libyan Chiefs and Egyptian elite were called ‘Chantress of the Inner Abode of Amun’ and presided over a college of priestesses, which seems to have been a kind of upper class convent.

At Karnak, several chapels were dedicated to Osiris and to Amun who was, by the Late Period, associated with him. They were mostly built during the period when Nubian kings ruled at Thebes and were dedicated by the reigning ‘God’s Wives’. The first shrine I came to on the northern path, the chapel of Osiris Neb-ankh (Lord of Life) dating to the Dynasty XXV reign of the Nubian King Shabaka, is in a fairly ruinous condition. Although there is now little remaining of the pylon entrance, courtyard and two inner chambers, the cartouches of Shabaka and the God’s Wife Amenirdis (I) can still be seen on the entrance.

Chapel of AnkhnesneferibreThe second structure here is better preserved with some good reliefs. This is the (earlier) chapel of Ankhnesneferibre who was a daughter of King Psamtik II of the Saite Dynasty XXVI and sister of King Wahibre (Apries). We know from surviving texts that this lady arrived in Thebes at only seven months old (in 595 BC) and was eventually installed as ‘High Priest’ of Amun. The next structure is her later chapel which is larger still and originally had a four-columned hall and a sanctuary at the rear. Parts of the gates survive and reliefs of Ankhnesneferibre before various deities can be clearly seen, including cartouches of Kings Ahmose II and Psamtik III. In one of the reliefs she is followed by her chief steward and fan-bearer who is named here as Sheshonq. There are also some lovely depictions of a lion-headed cobra and a strange underworld deity with two duck’s heads.

Shepenwepet's Chapel of Osiris Neb-ankhNext to Ankhnesneferibre’s chapel is another tiny shrine, also a chapel of Osiris Neb-ankh. This is like a little dolls-house, dedicated by the God’s Wife Shepenwepet (II), a daughter of King Taharqa of Dynasty XXV. Said to be perhaps the smallest religious monument in Egypt with a doorway only a little over a metre high leading to a tiny inner chamber, it is difficult to imagine any ceremony taking place here. There are some superb deeply-carved reliefs inside this little shrine with cartouches of Shepenwepet (II) and her sister the ‘God’s Wife’ Amenirdis, (II) as well as a cartouche inscribed for Osiris Neb-ankh.

Bypassing the Temple of Ptah I walked over to the next Osiris structure, an enigmatic little chapel, now just a small single chamber, dedicated by Amenirdis to Osiris De-ese-hebsed, also dating from Dynasty XXV. There were two God’s Wives named Amenirdis, the first a daughter of King Kashta and the second, who constructed this monument, was daughter of the Nubian King Taharqa. I had already seen the chapels at Medinet Habu belonging to this royal lady. Moving on I passed the scant remains of a Ptolemaic Temple of Osiris, no more than a lintel and two door-jambs.

Temple of Osiris Heka-djetAgainst the eastern enclosure wall is the largest remaining and one of the earliest chapels dedicated by the God’s Wives at Karnak. This is the Temple of Osiris Heka-djet (’Osiris, Ruler of Eternity’) which was built by the Libyan king Osorkon III and his son, the High Priest of Amun, Takelot III of Dynasty XXIII. This structure has high walls and I had to find a guard to let me inside through the locked door. Though there was once an entrance gate and a courtyard, these are now gone and I went straight into the first of three small rooms, the two innermost rooms being the earliest part of the temple. High on one wall there is a lovely relief of Shepenwepet (I) presenting an image of Ma’at to Amun and receiving a menat necklace from the goddess Isis, while her successor, Amenirdis (I), receives an ankh from Amun and Mut. There are some very unusual reliefs in this temple, including the only known depiction of a God’s Wife, Shepenwepet, wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt, complete with royal uraeus, normally a strict prerogative of the pharaoh. Another beautiful and unique dual-scene shows the two rulers, Osorkon and his co-regent Takelot, back to back under two ished-trees, while the gods write the kings’ names on the leaves. There is also an unusual series of seven false doors each one carved inside the other. I loved this little temple, it was just a pity that the combination of shadows and shallow reliefs did not offer a good opportunity for photography.”

Reproduced courtesy of with thanks.


Brooklyn Museum: Dig Diary –

Posted in Adoption, Adoratrice, Aidan Dodson, Akaluka, Akhamenerau, Amen-Ra, Amenardis, Amenirdis, Amenirdis the Elder, Amonardis, Amonirdis, Amoun, Amun, Amun-Ra, Amunardis, Amunirdis, Ancient Egypt, Ankhefenamon, Ankhnesneferibre, Apet, Ashdod, Assasif, Assyria, Black Pharaohs, Book of the Dead, Brooklyn Museum, Chief Priestess, Conundrum, David Aston, Dig Diary, Divine Adoratice of Amun, Divine Adoratrice, Divine Adoratrice of Amun, Divine One, Divine Votaress, Doorkeeper, Doorkeeper in the Temple of Amun, Dynastic, Egypt, Egyptian, Egyptian Dates, Egyptian Goddess, Egyptian History, Egyptian Queen, Egyptian Years, Egyptological Research, Egyptologists, Egyptology, el-Assasif, Goddess, Gods Hand, Gods Wife, Gods Wife of Amun, Grand Steward, Great of the Greats, Harwa, Harwa’s Tomb, Hatnefrumut, Hatshepsut, Hieroglyphic, Hieroglyphics, Hieroglyphs, High Priestess, High Priests, High Steward, Iamanni, Karl Jansen-Winkeln, Karnak, Karnak Temple, Kashta, Kawa, Kenneth Kitchen, Khaneferumut, Khons, Khonsu, King Kashta, Kush, Kushite, Lady of the House, Late Period, Lord, Lord of Thebes, Luxor, Medinet Habu, Meroë, Montu, Montu-Ra, Mut, Napata, Neferkare, Nestaureret, Nitocris, Nubia, Nubian, Nubian King, Nubian Kingdom, Osiris, Osiris Hall, Osorkon, Padimut, Peshuper, Pharaoh, Pharaohs, Precinct of Amun, Prenomen, Priest, Princess of Nubia, Psammetichus, Psamtek, Psamtik, Queen Amenirdis, Queen Amunirdis, Queen of Egypt, Queen Pebatma, Ra, Re, Regnal Years, Research, Rolf Krauss, Sargon, Scribe, Scribe of Amenirdis, Shabaka, Shabaka Neferkare, Shabaka Stone, Shabaqo, Shebitku, Shepenupet, Shepenwepet, Solar Eclipses, Stelae, Steward of the Divine Votaress, Sudan, Taharqa, Taharqo, Takelot, Tang-i Var, Tashakheper, Temple of Amun, Temples, Theban, Theban Necropolis, Theban Tomb, Thebes, Third Cataract, Third Intermediate Period, TT37, Twenty Fifth Dynasty, Votaress, Waset,,,, XXV Dynasty, XXVI Dynasty with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2009 by

“An end and a beginning

On March 23, 2007 the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art opens at the Brooklyn Museum. To celebrate the opening and the accompanying exhibition, “Pharaohs, Queens and Goddesses”, we decided to devote the last posting of the 2007 season at the Mut Precinct to some of the female figures, mortal and divine, associated with the site.

Hatshepsut being crowned by Amun-Re and granted life and dominion by the goddess “Great in Magic”, from the reconstructed Red Chapel in the Karnak Open Air Museum. An early 18th Dynasty temple at Mut dates to the reign of this woman who ruled as king.

“God’s Wife of Amun” was an important female priestly title in Thebes. In the 1st millennium BC it was usually held by a sister or daughter of the reigning king, each God’s Wife adopting her successor. They became so powerful that they were able to have themselves represented in roles normally played by the king.

In scenes of goddesses suckling humans, the human is normally the king, with the scene representing the transfer of life and power. Yet in this scene in the Chapel of Osiris-Ruler-of-Eternity at Karnak, not only is the God’s Wife of Amun, Shepenwepet I, being suckled, she is also wearing 2 Double Crowns, something shown nowhere else in any period.

In her funerary chapel at the temple of Medinet Habu, Amunirdis makes offerings to Amun and Hathor. The presence of funerary chapels to mortals within the sacred grounds of a temple is rare until the Third Intermediate Period, a time when God’s Wives of Amun flourished.

Intangible concepts could also be represented as goddesses. In a scene commemorating an important military campaign by Sheshonq I of Dynasty 22, the goddess “Victorious Thebes”, carrying a mace, an axe and a bow, drags conquered cities (shown as bound prisoners with the city names enclosed in cartouches representing fortified walls) to be slaughtered.

Upper and Lower Egypt were represented as the goddesses Nekhbet (right) and Wadjet. Scenes of the king flanked by these protective deities are common in all periods of Egyptian history. This one comes from the Mut Precinct’s Ptolemaic Chapel D.

Keeping Mut and Sakhmet happy was a main function of the Mut priesthood. In this scene from the Mut Precinct’s main entrance the king (holding Hathor-headed sistra) and two priestesses play music to Mut and Sakhmet to amuse them and keep them contented.

Two busts of Sakhmet in the Mut Precinct. Sakhmet angered could release disease and disaster on Egypt. Contented she could control these forces, which is why she is a goddess of health and healing as well as of death and destruction.

These 3 reliefs of Mut span a period of several hundred years. On the left is a relief from Amunirdis’s funerary chapel at Medinet Habu; in the center a relief from the chapel of Osiris-Ruler-of-Eternity at Karnak; and on the right a relief in Chapel D at the Mut Precinct. In all three scenes Mut appears in her usual guise of a human wearing the Double Crown.

And finally, a stela of a king offering to Mut that we uncovered in 2006. While the stela is uninscribed, it is entirely possible that it dates to the reign of the Roman Emperor Tiberius, showing that Mut continued as an important goddess even after Egypt’s conquest by Rome.

Richard Fazzini
Director, Mut Expedition”