last update: 04.12.2006

Historical Data

Name Title   Origin Tomb
Neferkhaut scribe, chief secretary of crown princess Hatshepsut     MMA729, located near to the Valley Temple of Hatshepsut
Wife: Ren-nefer Mistress of the House     MMA729
Bekamun       MMA729
Amenemhat Scribe     MMA729
Ruyu Mistress of the House     MMA729
Porter&Moss, I-2, S. 621

Plan of the tomb of Neferkhaut and his family and position of the objects inside the tomb (plan drawn by: Hayes, BMMA, 1935). The tomb consists of a vertical shaft and four burial chambers. In the left, western, Neferkhaut and his wife, Ren-nefer, had been buried, in the right, eastern, his sons Bekamun and Amenemhat, as well as the daughter Ruyu. The doorways to the burial chambers were blocked by walls of mud brick.
During the winter of 1915-1916 the tomb was discovered by the expedition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MMA)., New York, under the direction of Winlock. In this excavation period Winlock let examine a row of tombs in the cemetery 700. This area lies at the end of the causeways to the temple of Hatshepsut and Thutmosis III at Deir el-Bahari, to the north of causeway of Thutmosis III and to the west of the Valley Temple of Hatshepsut. The tombs and its finds were and published later by Hayes (Hayes, 1935).
Neferkhaut and the members of his family did not belong to the very important persons in the royal court at Thebes, but the family can be dated in the time of Thutmosis I to Thutmosis III and their tomb belongs to the few which have been preserved "substantially" intact till the present (Smith, 1992).
The tomb consists of a deep right-angled shaft which was oriented along an east-west axis. On the western (left) side of the shaft 2 smaller burial chambers lie close side by side. On the eastern (right) side a larger chamber lies directly beside the shaft and further to the east, located a little deeper there is a 4th chamber.
The tomb was directly cut in the desert rock, not far from the cultivated land and the Valley Temple of Hatshepsut. The chambers were apparently not cut at the same time from the rock, but were added little by little as members of the family died (chronological order: shaft, the 2 west chambers, the lower east chamber, and last, the lower east chamber. The doorways of the chambers which opened to the shaft were blocked by mud bricks. The blocking of the eastern chamber showed clearly that it had been taken down and rebuilt several times.
Later another shaft was dug into the floor of the upper eastern chamber which came down on the northern side of the lower eastern chamber. Through this shaft 5 further "poor" burials got in the lower eastern chamber, presumably poorer relatives or servants of the family.
Then eastern chambers were finally closed to and shaft were filled with broken rock. This probably occurred a short time before Thutmosis III built the causeway because the causeway sheared off a part of the shaft and almost exposed the upper chamber. Later Ramesses IV had erected his mortuary temple in this area so that the tomb was sealed by the building.
In the outer western chamber was the anthropoid coffin (no. 1 in the plan above) of Neferkhaut, "archivist, chief treasurer and keeper of the documents in the house of the God's Wife, Hatshepsut". In the neighboring internal chamber lay the sarcophagus of the "Mistress of the House", Ren-nefer (2).
In the lower eastern chamber there was the 2nd generation of the family: a tall, powerful man, a son or son-in-law called Bekamun (3), nicknamed Boki, an elder lady called Ruyu (4) who was also called "Mistress of the House" and was probably the oldest child of Neferkhaut and Ren-nefer, and a big, middle aged man, the "scribe" Amenemhat (5) who was probably the son of Neferkhaut and Ren-nefer.
In addition, the coffins of 5 other, nameless persons were found in the eastern part of the tomb:
a girl, a year or a little older (6), a boy of about 6 years (7), an adult woman in a borrowed coffin (8), an infant (9) under 6 months, and a boy (10), about 10 years old.
The burials 6 - 10 were arranged quite desultorily and their equipments poor. The bodies lay almost all on the back with the heads either to the north or the south. The hands were crossed mostly over the abdomen. However, the adult lady (8) lay on the belly, one arm under her body, a leg laterally extended and bent at the knee. In addition, she did lie in a coffin which had been marked for a "Scribe Neferkhaut " - not necessarily the owner of the tomb. None of the bodies was mummified, hence, only bare bones have survived. The bandages of all these mummies had been applied right carelessly and were partially of miserable quality.
Still less can be said about the burials in the upper eastern because this chamber was looted in Greek-Roman time.
The burials of Neferkhaut, Ren-nefer, Bekamun, Ruyu and Amenemhat were much more imposingly. They all had nicely decorated coffins and canopic chests (see photo below). Furthermore the numerous grave additions from which some things also came from the personal possession of the dead people kept. All had been submitted to an simple mummification were intestine and brain not removed. After a long drying in salt the bodies had been impregnated with pitchy preservatives.

The photo above shows the restored canopic chest of Ruyu (photo: Hayes, BMMA, 1935). The chest stands on a sledge and is decorated on all four sides with a goddess: Isis (east), Nephthys (west), Neith (south) and Selket (north) who in each case kneels on a nb-sign. Along the side edges recitations are running spoken by the goddess that is shown on the side. The inscriptions also mention the genius of the dead (i.e. son of Horus) who protects together with this goddess the particular organ of the deceased. Down the center of the lid there ran a band with an offering formula in which Anubis was named as the main benefactor of Ruyu. The exterior of the chest was painted in dark black whereas the decoration was bright orange yellow, so that the chest matched nicely the coffin of Ruyu in its quality and style.
Not only the equipment in the tom corresponded with to the ideas of the 18th dynasty, also the burials of the mummies fulfilled the rules. In 4 of 5 burials the position of the bodies was identical: all lay straight and fully extended on the back, the legs together and the hands folded over the abdomen.
Only with Boki (Bekamun) something went wrong: sometime during the wrapping the embalmers have lost the orientation and did not anymore what has been the top and the back of the mummy. Since with ongoing wrapping the mummy looked less and less like a "mummy from the 18th dynasty", thus, the embalmers have corrected the shape by means of padding - and, at least, Boki was put in the sarcophagus lying on his belly.

The two photos show the wrapped mummy of Boki above), and (below) the mummy after clearing (photos: Hayes, BMMA, 1935)
All mummies had been buried in anthropoid sarcophagi. The sarcophagi had been manufactured from fine coniferous wood, imported from Lebanon, perfectly in the best joiner's manner and without the use of metal nails. The older sarcophagi reflect the transition from of the (feathered) Rishi coffins which were in fashion in the 17th dynasty and at the beginning of the 18th dynasty, and the brilliantly black coffins provided with inscribed bands which were characteristic for the middle and the end of the 18th dynasty. On the lid of the Ren-nefer' s coffin we see the bands of the new decoration style together with the painted wings of the vulture from the old Rishi style. The basic color of the coffin is the rarely used blue.
The presumably contemporary coffin of Neferkhaut shows no more parts of the Rishi style, the basic color is white which was obviously used more often at the beginning of the dynasty. The later coffins of Boki and Ruyu are black, that of Amenemhat was white again.
The inscribed bands on the coffins reproduce the final binding tapes of the bandaged mummy in the coffin. The vertical band on the coffin lid carried in all cases the principal inscription, either a statement about to the favors granted to the deceased by Osiris (coffin of Ruyu) or a prayer of the dead to the sky goddess Nut. The transverse bands departing on both sides from the vertical band carried dedications of the dead to Anubis and 4 genii (four sons of Horus) of the dead. The transverse bands divide the sides of the coffin in several rectangular fields in which the gods are shown who are mentioned in the text (e.g. Neferkhaut, Ren-nefer, Ruyu, and Amenemhat), in all cases accompanied by a speech of assurance recited by the god to the deceased. On the flat foot-ends the goddess Isis is depicted, the arms outstretched in a gesture of protection.
Especially the coffins of Neferkhaut and Ruyu had been produced with great effort - the decoration was carved as well as was painted. The faces on the coffins of Neferkhaut, Ren-nefer and Ruyu, as well as the alternating stripes of the hairstyles were covered with gold leaf. On these three coffins the eyes were inserted either in fine wood or in a bronze (Ruyu), the cornea was made of alabaster in each case and the iris from obsidian. With the exception of Neferkhaut the pinkish-yellow painted or gilded faces all had no beard. The coffin of Ruyu was provided incorrectly with a beard which was removed probably during the burial and had hidden in her canopic chest.
Beside the coffins Neferkhaut, Ren-nefer and Ruyu had been provided with canopic chests (see above) with 4 jars in each case. However, all vessels had remained empty, because no internal organs had been removed from the deceased. Although the jars were never used - maybe they were never intended to be used - jars and canopic chests were produced, decorated and were aligned (the vessels in the shrines) with great care. In contrast to canopic chest of Ruyu the chests of Neferkhaut and Ren-nefer were unpainted and were much simpler.
Also the Book of the Dead belonged to the equipment of Neferkhaut, Boki and Ruyu, in each case a 23.5 x 3.5 cm fine-grained papyrus roll. Each roll contained on its inner side a selection of spells which should be recited by the deceased to ensure his well-being in the hereafter. Beside the Book of the Dead Boki owned 2 other papyri, one papyrus lay over the thighs and was absolutely unreadable, the other one which probably contained parts of the Amduat was spread over the breast.
Beside pieces of jewelry (e.g. scarabs, rings) that lay directly on the body, the deceased were accompanied into the tomb by numerous objects of everyday use. Among other things in the jewel boxes of Ruyu and Ren-nefer further scarabs were found, unguent spoons, Kohl sticks, bronze mirrors, wooden hairpins, etc. Boki and Amenemhat were given a set of razor blades and knifes accompanied by a whetstone.
Maybe the people in Thebes still have remembered the reign of the Hyksos which had passed only few years and that they had to fight for their grounds, so Neferkhaut and Boki were also buried with their weapons. The equipment of Neferkhaut consisted of arrows and a bow, quarterstaves with bronze caps, long quarterstaves of heavy dark wood. Boki impressed with a battleaxe, with a bronze head and an ebony shaft, and by a long throw stick (boomernag).

Copyright: Dr. Karl H. Leser (Iufaa)