Archive for Kush

Pharaoh Piye of Dynasty XXV Taharqa Nubian Dynasty Kushite Dynasty Kush XXV Dynasty

Posted in Dynasty 25, King, Kush, Kushite Dynasty, Kushites, Nubian Dynasty, Nubians, Pharaoh, Piye, Taharqa, XXV, XXV Dynasty with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2009 by

“King Piye of Dynasty XXV, also known variously as Py, Piankhy and Piankh, reigned in Nubia for about 31 years between 747 and 716BC. He was the son of King Kashta and Pebatma, and married his sister, Peksater, and four other wives. Towards the end of the 8th Century BC, Egypt had grown so fragmented that the rulers at Napata (the capital of Nubia) sought to assert some control over it. In about 727, Piankhy began the absorption of Egypt. At that time, Tefnakhte, a ruler of various nomes in the western delta, advanced southward with a large army. Piankhy responded by marching his troops northward and defeated the Egyptians. Piye’s Victory Stela, a large, round-topped stela of grey granite, was discovered in 1862 in the ruins of the temple of Amun at Nepata at the foot of Gebel Barkal. This New Kingdom temple was much enlarged by Piankhy.

The Kushites did not view themselves as foreign invaders, but as restorers of order, reuniting the Two Lands in the names of the Egypytian gods. Piye ruled Egypt from the city of Napata. It is thought that Piye continued to reign as King of Upper Egypt for about 30 years, and that he never returned north to Egypt. Piye was buried in a pyramid at el-Kurru near Gebel Barkal, a site that would come to be occupied by the tombs of several later members of the dynasty.

Dynasty XXV is known as the Nubian or Kushite dynasty, and comprised five rulers. The fourth of these was Taharqa.

Taharqa’s (also spelled Tirhakah, Taharka, Manetho’s Tarakos) reign can be dated from 690 BC to 664 BC. At the age of sixteen, he led the Egyptian armiy against the invading Assyrians in defence of his ally, Israel. Scholars have identified him with Tirhakah, king of Ethiopia, who waged war against Sennacherib during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah (2 Kings 19:9; Isaiah 37:9). 

In ca. 677 BC, the Assyrians, led by King Esarhaddon, attacked Egypt’s eastern frontier near Sile with the intent of invasion aimed to pacify Arab tribes around the Dead Sea. Here they were defeated by the army of Taharqa. Three years later, in 674 BC, they attacked again. This time they defeated Taharqa and captured Memphis. While Taharqa withdrew southward, probably to Nubia, the Assyrians seized the entire royal court, including the queen and the heir apparent to the throne, and transported them as captives to Nineveh. It is thought that Taharqa died in 664 BC and was buried in his pyramid at Nuri near Napata. He was a prolific builder in Memphis and Thebes, especially at the Temple of Amun at Karnak. He also rebuilt or erected anew temples and shrines throughout Nubia.

Upon his death, Taharqa was succeeded by his nephew, Tanwetamani (ca. 664 BC). He reinvaded Egypt with a Kushite army, captured Memphis and attacked the Delta. After he killed Necho I in battle, the Delta vassals recognized him as King of Egypt, while Psammetichus fled to Assyria. Within a year (ca. 663 BC), the Assyrians returned to quell this rebellion. Tanwetamani was quickly defeated, and he withdrew to Thebes. The Assyrians followed once again, whereupon he withdrew to Napata. In retribution, the Assyrians burned and sacked Thebes.

Tanwetamani never returned to Egypt, and any effective Kushite pretensions to the throne of Egypt ended forever. For his loyalty, the Assyrians installed Psammetichus I of the Twenty- sixth Dynasty as king of most of the Egyptian Delta.”

[Retrieved on 11 February 2009]
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Meroe Kush Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt – Gebel Barkal – Nuri – El Kurru – Meroitic Kushite Period

Posted in Amon Temple, Axum, Gebel Barkal, Jebel Barkal, Kashta, Kerma, Kurgus, Kurru, Kush, Kushite Period, Meroë, Meroitic, Napata, Nubia, Nuri, Piankhi, Piye, Ptolemaic, Roman Egypt, Sanam, SCN with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2009 by
Meroitic Kushite Period – Meroe – Kush – Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt – Gebel Barkal – Nuri – Kurru

“The Meroitic Kushite period is named after the royal burial ground at Meroe, situated between the Fifth and Sixth Cataracts. In the third century BC the royal cemetery was moved there from Napata, though Meroe had long been one of the major centers of the Kushite state. This move coincided with the arrival of Greek culture in Egypt, following the country’s conquest by Alexander the Great. The resulting Graeco-Egyptian culture influenced the Kingdom of Kush giving its later phases a distinctive character. This was in contrast to the preceding Napatan period, which was influenced by the Pharaonic Egyptian culture. The Kushite kingdom prospered from control of the trade routes along the Nile valley from Central Africa to Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt, particularly after the 2nd Century when the camel was introduced to Africa and there was a flourishing of caravan routes across the continent. Its position gave Meroe access to trading outlets on the Red Sea. The kingdom also had the resources needed for the smelting of iron: ore, water from the Nile and wood from acacia trees to make charcoal.
In 24 BC, soon after Rome had taken Egypt from Anthony and Cleopatra, the Kushites invaded Lower Nubia, attacking and plundering Syrene, Elephantine and Philae. From there, they push on to Thebes and defeated its Roman garrison. Strabo reported that the Kushite Queen “enslaved the inhabitants, and threw down a statue of Caesar”. A bronze head of Augustus was unearthed in excavation at Meroe in 1912, and can be seen in the British Museum.
The Roman general Aelius Petronius was dispatched into Nubia. He met and defeated a Meroitic army and drove on to Napata, which was said to have been captured and destroyed, and its inhabitants enslaved. The Kushites sent envoys for negotiations at Samos Island and concluded a peace treaty. Kushite tribute was suspended and a permanent ambassadorial position was established between Meroe and Roman Egypt. The Romans withdrew to Maharraka, which established Roman control of Lower Nubia. The peace treaty endured for three centuries, with special emphasis on Red Sea trade, even into the Indian Ocean. Curiously, in Stabo’s account it was noted that the Merotic queen, Kandake Amanirenawas, was “a very masculine sort of woman and blind in one eye.”
By A.D. 300-350, Meroe was largely abandoned due mainly to environmental pollution. The smelting industry had poisoned the soil. Trees had been cut down and the resulting erosion had washed away the topsoil thus reducing the ability to feed the population. In A.D. 350, the Christian King Ezana of Axum defeated Meroitic forces, and the Meroitic period ended. The Meroitic written language has never been translated.”
[Retrieved on 11 February 2009]
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Harwa TT37 Grand Steward High Priest Doorkeeper in the Temple of Amun

Posted in Akhamenerau, Amenardes, Amenardis, Amenardus, Amenirdas, Amenirdies, Amenirdis, Amenirdis the Elder, Amenirdis the Great, Amirtaios, Amirteo, Amirto, Amnirdis, Amnrdis, Amon, Amonardis, Amonardus, Amonirdas, Amonirdies, Amonirdis, Amoun, Amounirdies, Amun, Amun-Ra, Amunardis, Amunirdies, Amunirdis, Amyrtaeus, Amyrtaios, Amyrtée, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Egyptian, Assasif, Black Pharaohs, Blogs, Deir el-Bahri, Divine Adoratice of Amun, Divine Adoratrice, Doorkeeper, Doorkeeper in the Temple of Amun, Dynasty, Egypt, Egyptian, Egyptian History, Egyptian Queen, Egyptological Research, Egyptologist, Egyptologists, Egyptology, el-Assasif, Epigraphy, Gods Hand, Gods Wife, Gods Wife of Amun, Grand Steward, Great of the Greats, Great Royal Wife, Habu, Harwa, Harwa’s Tomb, Hat neferu Mut, Hat Nefru Mut, Hat-nfrw-mwt, Hatnefrumut, Hieroglyphic, Hieroglyphics, Hieroglyphs, High Priest, High Priest of Amun, Karnak, Karnak Temple, Kashta, King Kashta, Kush, Kushite, Kushite Princess of Nubia, Kushite Queen, Luxor, Luxor Egypt, Mariam Ayad, Medinet, Medinet Habu, Montuemhat, Mummies, Mummification, Mummified Remains, Mummy of Amenardis, Mummy of Amenirdis, Mummy of Amunirdis, Museum, Museums, Napata, Noble, Nobles, Nubia, Nubian, Nubian Kingdom, Nubian Queen, Padiamenipet, Padiamenope, Padiamenopea, Peshuper, Petamenofi, Petamenophis, Pharaoh, Pharaohs, Piankhi, Pie, Piye, Precinct of Amun, Priest, Princess of Nubia, Pye, Queen Amenirdis, Queen Amunirdis, Queen of Egypt, Queen Pebatma, Royal Name, Royal Queen, Shabaka, Shabaka Neferkare, Shabaka Stone, Shabaqo, Shabitko, Shebitku, Shepenupet, Shepenwepet, Steward of the Divine Votaress, Sudan, Taharqa, Taharqo, Temple of Amun, Temples, Theban, Theban Priest, Theban Tomb, Thebes, Third Intermediate Period, Throne Name, Tomb, Tombs, TT, TT33, TT34, TT37, TT404, Twenty Fifth Dynasty, Two Lands, Upper Egypt, Waset, West Bank,,,, XXV, XXV Dynasty with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 5, 2009 by

Harwa: “Great of the Greats”.

Harwa was an important man in ancient Egypt. He was an important figure in the life of Amenirdis I of ancient Egypt’s XXV Dynasty. He acted as the ‘Chief Steward’, or ‘Grand Steward’ for Amenirdis I, as God’s Wife of Amun and also whilst Queen Amenirdis served as Divine Adoratrice.
Additionally, he held the title (as High Priest) of “Doorkeeper in the Temple of Amun”.

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, and of a Priest attached to the temple of Amun in Karnak, Padimut 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 (14+) and currently not accessible to the public.

Harwa HieroglyphsThe tomb of Harwa (TT37) displays important features of a man holding such religious, spiritual and political power. Scenes and texts – at least those engraved in the principal axis of the monument – can be read as part of a description of the Egyptian man’s journey from his daily life to the Netherworld, passing through the ultimate experience of death and beyond. Each part of the monument concurs to document a different step of the path leading to eternal life.

The tomb (TT37) is large and in the “Osiris Hall” there is a wall relief describing the moment of the death where Harwa is shown ‘between worlds’, and separated from his physical body, with Anubis holding one hand. Harwa then exists in two (or more?) dimensions simultaneously – in the Land of Osiris and still in the land of the living, just.

Harwa’s tomb shows the moment of death in its supreme glory and Harwa continues to be shown ‘in the middle’, almost in a ‘freeze-frame’ reliefwith both his Ka and Ba ‘conscious’ (possibly his Akh + Ren + Shwt), ‘present’ and aware of their ‘state’ i.e. Harwa’s Ba – or possibly his Shwt or Ren – is shown as young and healthy whilst his Ka and physical form is as it was before the ‘freeze-frame’: corpulent, bald/ing and approximately 60 years old.

Alternatively, could the ‘freeze-frame’ relief depict the split-second when the Ka, Ba, Akh, Ren and Shwt ‘meet’ prior to the ‘magical’ departure to the different realms?
We will never know exactly why this complex scene is shown but it was most certainly important to Harwa and the explanation could possibly be beyond the understanding of our modern-day thought processes.
For the ancient Egyptians everything exists also in its complementary form. Nothing existed isolated, only for itself. The function/s was always intertwined with their universe, with Netjer and with Man.


This relief is highly unusual in ancient Egyptian scenes and whilst the above is purely personal conjecture, there is little doubt that Harwa was ‘more than a mortal’ given his almost ‘pharaoh-like’ status and titles.
Harwa was not only a dignitary holding vast powers but the ruler of Upper Egypt, ruling on behalf of the pharaohs of the twenty-fifth Dynasty, along with God’s Wives of Amun et al. This conclusion is supported by a limestone ushabti (shabty), discovered in TT37 during 1997, showing Harwa holding in his hands the crook and the flail i.e. the regalia – characteristic emblems of pharaonic royalty. A further ushabti is kept in the Egyptian collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.


Could it be that Harwa had numerous ‘Kas’, similar to the pharaohs of ancient Egypt?
Could the ‘freeze-frame’ be indicative of Harwa’s status as a ruling, ‘semi-royal’ noble?
Any further ideas, suggestions or comments would be most welcome – please e-mail me:


A ushabti (shabty) of Harwa from TT37 – [image link].
More information and images from Harwa’s tomb – [link]


As an aside: I find it interesting that the tomb of Akhamenerau – TT404 (Theban Tomb 404) – is adjacent to TT37, the huge tomb of Harwa. Akhamenerau was “Chief Steward of the Divine Adoratrix Amenirdis I (Amunirdis I) and Shepenupet II (Shepenwepet II)” and, obviously, held office under these two powerful God’s Wives of Amun. It seems strange to me – though I’m no scholar – that Akhamenerau ruled at this time (though I can find no dates for Akhamenerau) and that placement of TT404 was so very close to TT37. Was this significant in itself, as – possibly – with the adjacent placement of the tombs of Montuemhat (TT34) and Petamenophis (TT33)? I would suggest so.
Did Amenirdis I and Shepenupet II’s rule of Upper Egypt overlap…?
Coregency for a few years before Amenirdis died?
Did Harwa hold Office under both God’s Wives of Amun…?
Amenirdis I ‘adopted‘ Shepenupet II and the latter obviously held Amenirdis I in high regard (see Medinet Habu, Chapel of the Adoratrice Amunirdis I) or did Akhamenerau live long enough to serve – and rule – under both God’s Wives of Amun?


Montuemhat and Petamenophis’ Theban Tombs
Montuemhat (TT34) served the Nubian Kings Taharqa and Tanutamun (Tanutamani, Tanwetamani or Tanutamon) as Fourth Prophet of Amun, Mayor of Thebes and Governor of Upper Egypt in the XXV dynasty.
[Bust of Montuemhat]
[Statue Group of Montuemhat and His Son, Nesptah]

Petamenophis (TT33) (Padiamenope, Padiamenipet, Petamenofi or Padiamenopea) served as Chief Lector Priest during the XXV to XXVI dynasties.

[Limestone fragment of tomb relief]

[Serpentine ushabti]



In Harwa’s Tomb (TT37), a text well-engraved on the southern wall of the passage leading to the First Pillared Hall enumerates his good deeds having recourse to the most typical phraseology of the Egyptian “ideal biography”. It is Harwa himself who is speaking. He tells the visitor to the tomb:

“I gave bread to the hungry man, clothes to the naked man”.

This phrase is pivotal in the connection between Harwa and Queen Amenirdis I as, on the reverse (and base) of the famous alabaster statue of Amenirdis I, there is a well-carved series of hieroglyphs which say:
“I gave food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothes to the naked man.” (the full translation can be found Here…)


I have not seen a connection made anywhere regarding these two series of hieroglyphs – online or offline. I believe that this connection hasn’t yet been made by the scholars but the importance of the similar phrases is amazing to me.

Harwa held the position of “Grand Steward” for about forty years from the time of Piankhy, serving under Nubian pharaohs Shabaqo or Shabaka (713-698 BCE) and Shebitqo (698-690 BCE), until the reign of Taharqo or Taharqa (690 – 664 BCE).
Coincidentally, Amenirdis I is said to have served as God’s Wife of Amun, Divine Adoratrice (or Divine Votaress) and “God’s Hand” for approximately forty to forty-six years.
[Taharqo (or Taharqa) was the uncle of Amunirdis.]

It is my personal belief that Amenirdis I and Harwa had a close ‘royal’ relationship and ruled ‘together’ (in various roles) from ancient Thebes at approximately the same times in ancient Egypt.

During the 1997 archaeological campaign in Harwa’s tomb (TT37), a limestone ushabty (or shabti) was unearthed showing features which shed new light on some aspects of the role played by Harwa inside the Theban administration. It is a typically mummiform funerary statuette of the XXV Dynasty but it holds in his hands the crook and the flail, that is to say, the regalia, the characteristic emblems of the pharaonic royalty.

As far as it is known, it is the only example of non-royal ushabty displaying such characteristics.
Furthermore, in the Chapter VI of the Book of the Dead engraved on the body, Harwa is mentioned as “Great of the Greats”.
These evidences should point out that Harwa had more power than the one deriving from his role and that he can be considered as the co-governor of the Theban region on the behalf of the Nubian King alongside the Divine Adoratrice, Amunirdis I.
Also the vastness of his tomb and the high number of his statues can support the hypothesis that Harwa was the most politically influential person of the State; stretching to the First Cataract (a graffito signed by him has been found at Nag’esh Sheikh, near Aswan). 

If this assumption is confirmed by further excavations, then the positions of Montuemhat and Petamenophis will have to be reconsidered. They chose in fact to place their tombs east and west of the tomb of Harwa as if they attributed a high reverence to him and considered him a sort of ancestor. Does this also apply to Akhamenerau in TT404 and Peshuper (tomb location unknown at this time)? In this frame one has to ask: is it possible to speak of a “dynasty” of functionaries governing the Theban region with the consent of the Nubian kings? If this proves to be true, then, as they did not belong to the one family nor did they share the same titles and position, what was the mechanism of succession of these functionaries? No-one yet knows the answer to that question or the countless others raised by the life, works and tomb of Harwa, Grand Steward in the Precinct of Amun.

Many questions are raised merely because of the surviving evidence belonging to Amenirdis I and Harwa et al., but there are some issues which are quite clear:

Upper Egypt was ruled well under the governance of these two mighty figures (and others) and for forty to firty-six years, approximately, Upper Egypt was relatively peaceful (as opposed to the XXIII to XXIV Dynasties political and religious unrest and turmoil) whilst Pharaoh Shabaka (Amunirdis I’s brother) ruled from Memphis. Even after the death of her brother, Amunirdis I remained in control and acted, along with others, answering the State’s needs on many levels. Order was temporarily restored and both Amunirdis I and Harwa played a major role in ancient Egypt at that time.

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:

Where is the Mummy of Ancient Egyptian Queen Amenirdis I – Kushite Princess of Nubia – XXV Dynasty

Posted in Adoratrice, Adoratrix, AEMES, Akaluka, Akhamenerau, Amen, Amenardis, Amenirdis, Amenirdis Mortuary Temple, Amenirdis the Elder, Amenirdis the Great, AMES, Amon, Amonardis, Amonirdis, Amoun, Amun, Amunardis, Amunirdis, Amunirdis was Buried, Ancient Egypt, Aqaluqa, Archaeologist, Bodily Remains, British Museum, Burial Chamber, Divine Adoratice of Amun, Divine Adoratrices, Divine Votaress, Divine Wife, Egypt, Egyptian, Egyptian History, Egyptian Queen, Egyptologist, Egyptologists, Egyptology, Find Amenirdis, Find Amunirdis, Funerary Goods, God, Goddess, Gods Hand, Gods Wife, Gods Wife of Amun, Harwa, Hatnefrumut, Inner Chapel, Interred, Kashta, Kush, Kushite, Kushite Princess of Nubia, Medinet Habu, Mortuary Temple, Mummies, Mummification, Mummified, Mummified Remains, Mummy of Amenardis, Mummy of Amenirdis, Mummy of Amunirdis, Museums, Napata, Nubian, Nubian Queen, Peshuper, Piankhi, Piye, Preservation, Priest, Princess of Nubia, Private Collections, Queen Amenirdis, Queen Amunirdis, Queen of Egypt, Queen Pebatma, Restoration, Scribe, Shabaka Neferkare, Shabaka Stone, Shabaqo, Taharqa, Taharqo, Thebes, Third Intermediate Period, Twenty Fifth Dynasty, Upper Egypt,,,, XXV, XXV Dynasty with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2009 by
Where is the Mummy of Ancient Egyptian Queen Amenirdis I – Kushite Princess of Nubia – XXV Dynasty?
The belongings and funerary goods of Amenirdis I are spread around the globe both in museums and, sadly, in private collections away from public view. She was a very important woman in ancient Egypt – as were all God’s Wives of Amun and Divine Votaresses – and possessed a considerable amount of ‘personal’ and mortuary goods. In antiquity many items will have disappeared in to the mists of time and as recently as the twentieth Century, Amenirdis’ possessions found their way in to museums, private collections and the like – as one would expect.
The vast majority of sources state something akin to the following: 
“Upon her death, Amunirdis I was buried in a tomb in the grounds of Medinet Habu.”
That just doesn’t feel ‘right’ to me and there have been a number of reports of the mummy of Amenirdis I being found since 2001.
I live within a mile of that impressive chapel and in early 2003 I spoke to an eminent archaeologist and Egyptologist from the British Museum in Amenirdis’ chapel in Medinet Habu. Apparently the mummy of Amenirdis I has been found, but not in Medinet Habu and the BM archaeologist was unable to tell me where the mummy was found or where it had been moved to.
I would like to know that the mummy of this Royal Queen is intact and, hopefully, in good condition but no-one seems to have any answers regarding the whereabouts of Amenirdis I’s remains. Why is that?
If a museum has the remains kept in a safe environment then I would be very happy to know that. If a private collection has obtained the mummy I would hope that an expert has been consulted to aid in preservation.
As much as I would like to pay my respects to Amenirdis I, I don’t think that is likely but just to know that all is, hopefully, well would be wonderful for me personally as I have an incredible interest, as must be obvious from the AI web site and this blog.
The ‘inner chapel’ or ‘burial chamber’ – supposedly where Amenirdis was interred – a few metres from the glorious black libation table in Medinet Habu had, until 2001, a dirt floor and a rope loosely tied across. The guards/guides would remove the rope from time-to-time and I have previously sat on the dirt floor contemplating the whereabouts of Amenirdis I’s remains and whether I was in fact sat on top of them!
The chapel of the Divine Adoratrice Amenirdis I has changed – the floor is now made of paving slabs, with a concrete-like mix holding them together. Replacing the rope is a basic wooden frame which is occasionally removed by the guards or guides. The change in the floor took place in 2001, I seem to remember. I do not understand why the floor was replaced – not least because public admittance should not be permitted there.
Was the floor of the ‘burial chamber’ excavated since the 1990s? What was found? I would dearly love to know.
The rest of this small – but incredibly impressive chapel – is in need of further restoration and preservation and it has received considerable attention (to my knowledge) since the late 1990s – the roof is now held in place with metal girders and efforts are obviously being made to keep the chapel standing, thankfully. That again leaves me with a question – why replace the floor where the public are not really permitted? The floor around the outer chapel walls is very uneven and hasn’t even been cleaned, let alone replaced – sand is building up against the edges of the wall reliefs in some places and yet the ‘inner chapel’ or ‘burial chamber’ is as new as it could be. Strange.
I have plagued archaeologists and Egyptologists regarding the whereabouts of the remains of Amenirdis and I really would like to know that her remains are in good hands and ‘safe’. I don’t want – or need – to know who has ownership or possession but I would be very grateful to anyone who can tell me if the mummy is intact and in safe hands please.
Please feel free to e-mail me with any information and if it must remain confidential then so be it.
My e-mail address is:
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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.”

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Chapels of the Gods Wives at Medinet Habu by

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Chapels of the God’s Wives – Medinet Habu – Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III, West Bank, Luxor

“It now seems to be a forgone conclusion that when we’re on the West Bank, we will end up at Medinet Habu and today was no exception. I wanted a last look at the temple and went to take more photographs in the shrines of the God’s Wives of Amun, the Divine Adoratirix that have become a study theme for me on this visit.

Relief of Shepenwepet in the Chapel of AmenirdisThere are four chapels at Medinet Habu dedicated to the God’s Wives. The earliest belongs to Shepenwepet I who was appointed by her father Osorkon III during the last years of Theban independence before full Nubian control. Little is left of her chapel, but the burial shaft still gives access to vaulted chambers below – not open to the public however. The next shrine is that of Amenirdis I, the successor to Shepenwepet and daughter of Nubian King Kashta. This is the best-preserved chapel and has many interesting reliefs, though it is very dark inside. A forecourt fronts Amenirdis’s chapel, the four columns now reduced to stumps, but there is still a black granite offering table in situ. Inside the shrine, a free-standing sanctuary surrounded by a corridor whose walls are adorned with excerpts from the Pyramid Texts and reliefs of Amenirdis I and her successor Shepenwepet II (who built this shrine for her aunt), before various deities. The walls are now blackened but little square openings in the roof send atmospheric shafts of light down onto the scenes. The workmanship is really beautiful here.

In due time Shepenwepet II adopted Amenirdis II, a daughter of King Taharqa, as her successor, but her rule was ill-fated as by then the Nubian Dynasty XXV came to an end with the Assyrian invasions of Thebes. The Theban priesthood was forced to accept an heiress from the Saite dynasty of the Delta and it was Psamtik’s daughter Nitocris who became the next God’s Wife of Amun, after being adopted by both Shepenwepet II & Amenridis II. It was Nitocris who completed the chapel for Shepenwepet II after her death, adding to the burial chambers to provide for herself and her birth mother Mehytenweskhet. The fourth chapel is now gone, but is thought to have belonged to Ankhnesneferibre, a daughter of King Psamtik II, who was the last holder of the office of Divine Adoratrice at Thebes and who also took the title of High Priest of Amun. Her beautiful sarcophagus, found in a shaft at Deir el-Medina after being re-used during Roman times, is now in the British Museum.

Sarcophagus of Ankhnesneferibre in the British Museum

Over the doorways to these chapels is a kind of threat, written as an ‘Appeal to the Living’, which consists of words to be uttered by people passing by. The text more or less states that anyone not participating in the mortuary cult by repeating the prayers will be cursed by the ‘Mistress of the West’ who will cause sickness to their families. I always bear this in mind, saying a little prayer of my own for the souls of the powerful ladies once buried here.”

Reproduced courtesy of with thanks.