Thirty in number, these pillars have been retained in a rock mass of very poor quality in function of the natural constraints, including the presence of faults. This explains the asymmetrical layout of these pillars and their irregular and varied shapes. Most were cut with faces of unequal width, forcing the decorator to work on narrow and high surfaces.
The thirty supports can be divided roughly into three rows: the first, the one of the west, comprises eleven pillars; the middle row comprises nine pillars; the last row comprises ten pillars (see ).
It is the seven pillars which stand to the right and to the left of the axial passage, leading from the entry to the shaft of the burial chamber, which are engraved with the autobiographical texts. The number of the text of the inscription will be indicated, as defined by Jacques Vandier, along with the title he gave to these texts (see ).
This is very damaged. Only a few traces of three superimposed characters are still visible. There was a man holding a gazelle on a leash, a man presenting a duck and a man who was cooking.
One finds in inscription no. 1
"His initial titles" :
"The hereditary prince, the count, the chancellor of the king of Lower Egypt, the sole companion, the lector-priest, the leader of the army, the chief of the interpreters, the leader of the mountainous regions, the great chief of the nomes of the Throne of Horus and the rural area, Ankhtifi, says:…". Then follows the beginning of the inscription n°2,
"The mission of Edfu".
"The mission of Edfu" (continuation of the section 1) :
"Horus (a) brought me into the nome of the Throne of Horus for life-prosperity-health, and in order to re-establish order there. I acted (immediately). I was delighted that Horus wanted to re-establish order there, saying: 'May he send me there to restore order'. I found the domain of Khuu (b) inundated like a marsh, disregarded by the one who had the effective responsibility for it and ruined under the direction of a wretch. I made a man embrace the slayer of his father or the one that had killed his brother, in order to re-establish the order in the nome of the Throne of Horus. How happy was the day on which I found prosperity in this nome. I won't permit that the ardor of discord prevails (again) on it, now that all forms of evil which people hate have been suppressed.".
a) The word "Horus" probably indicates the king (and not a god as Vandier thought). Ankhtifi is a loyalist and he is sent by the herakleopolitan sovereign to the district of Edfu to put an end to what looks like a civil war and to return it into the lap of royalty.
b) Designates the predecessor of Ankhtifi and by that, the nome of the Throne of Horus.
Ankhtifi tells us that he is born in an age of chaos, civil war and a rupture of the social link, the typical phraseology of the period.
"I am the vanguard of the men and the rearguard of the men. I was a man who found the solution when it was lacking in the country thanks to prudent plans. (I was a man) of the skilful word who knew how to gather (his) courage, the day when it was necessary to federate the three nomes (a). For I am a champion without peer, (I was a man) who spoke out freely when the people were silent, on the day when it was necessary to sow fear when Upper Egypt was silent".
(a) Referring to the war which Ankhtifi had led against Thebes and on the occasion of which it had gathered the strengths of the three most southern nomes of Upper Egypt.
In all this passage, Ankhtifi speaks of his leadership qualities and composure that he demonstrated in midst of the general discouragement, when a danger, which is obviously the war against Thebes, which will be discussed later (inscriptions n°6 and 7), threatens. The day when it was necessary to gather the forces of the three nomes of the South, he alone knew how to show the necessary energy and when the danger became clearer, where fear became widespread, only he has retained his freedom of speech and his clear judgement, at a moment when all other inhabitants of the region had become dumb of terror.
"Predominant situation of Ankhtifi".
"As for everyone to whom I extended my hand, no misfortune was ever caused by him, because my heart is as sealed and my intentions excellent. But all ignorant ones, all wretches who stand against me, has received according to what he gave. "Oh misfortune", will be said about one who is accused by me, because I have made that his (hull) will take water as that of a boat. Because I am a champion who doesn't have an equal."
A once painted bas-relief represents Ankhtifi in heroic size, a cane and kherep sceptre in his hands, a large usekh necklace around the neck. Three dogs are represented at his feet; they are painted in red and white and have the neck decorated with a red necklace (see ).
Below, a butcher slaughters a great white ox. From the wound escapes a stream of red blood. A short legend says:
"Cut the forelimb, hurry up!" (see ).
Below, a man holds in each hand a duck by the wings. According to his clothing, he could be one of the soldiers of Ankhtifi.
A cow of black and white colour is represented with below it a squatted drover. The front part of the cow has completely disappeared.
On this section a scene of a brewery is represented.
Below, a woman bends over a vessel, another crushes the grain on a grindstone (see ).
Above, we attend the manufacture of beer, of which the process remains poorly understood and is never presented in full. The place where it is represented with the most of detail is the mastaba of Ty. Here, one sees the brewer crumbling loaves in a yellow basket placed on a great red jar; he will then mix them with the liquid contained in the red crock which is brought to him by his companion. The jar is closed by a black conical plug (see ). Behind the brewer, a big red jar, closed by a black plug, is placed on a red support. It maybe contains the already prepared beer.
Above, a man is shown with a small red table, carrying two round loaves, red at the centre and white at the edge; close to the table is a jar. The man extends his left hand to the stand and raises his right hand.
"Introduction to the tales of war" :
"The hereditary prince, the count, the chancellor of the king of Low Egypt, the sole companion, the leader of the interpreters (a), the great chief of the nomes of the Throne of Horus and the rural area, says: I am the vanguard of the men and the rearguard of the men, because a man such as I did not exist and will never exist, because a man such as I has not been placed in the world and never will be brought into the world. I have done more that what my ancestors did, and my successors will never equal me, during this million years, in all that I have done. Indeed, if, on the one hand, I am satisfied with this troop of Hefat (Mo'alla) (a), this country is also satisfied, but, on the other hand, if one walks on my tail as on that of a crocodile, the South and the North, this entire country is in terror. If I seize the oars, I find the… shut in, the bolts being pushed. As for the one which makes (sail) toward Abydos in order to betray his duty, the lookout who is on the ramparts sees him (b). And if I provoke (?) a quarrel, the wretch exclaims: 'It is a misfortune!' It is because I am a brave man who doesn't have (his) equal.
The hereditary prince, the count, the leader of the army of the nome of the rural area in its entirety, Ankhtifi the brave, says: 'I brought the advice of the governor of the South, who resides in the Thinite nome, to come to investigate (as fort to the actions) of the count, chief of the prophets, great chief of the nome of the rural area, Hotep (c). This is certainly not a thing that I have found to have been done by the other nomarchs which existed in this nome, (and this thing), I have done thanks to my excellent plans, thanks to my far-sighted words (? sustainable), thanks (finally) to the care that I took (?) (in the daytime) and night. It is because, I am a brave one that doesn't have (his) equal'".
((a) The troop of Hefat must have included many mercenaries; Ankhtifi commanded it quite independantly.
(b) Go to Abydos first means crossing the Theban lines, thus betrayal. According to Aufrere, the expression probably means going to court, in order to expose a dispute, notably territorial.
(c) Contrary to what Vandier thought, the predecessor of Ankhtifi, Hotep, is not his father. Ankhtifi launches a lawsuit against him.
"First engagements close to Armant" :
"The hereditary prince, the count, the leader of the army, Ankhtifi the Brave, says: The general of Armant said to me: 'Come, oh honest man. Sail with the current down to the fortress of Armant!' I then went down to the country to the west of Armant and I found that the forces of Thebes and Koptos in their entirety had attacked the fortress of Armant (located) in the (region named) Hill of Semekhsen. It was because of this that they had come to me. Then [my arms?] were strong, there, [against them like a harpoon in the nostrils of a hippotamus in flight. Then, I went upstream to demolish their fortresses with the valiant troop of Hefat (Mo'alla). It is because, I am a brave who doesn't have (his) equal".
Vandier and Goedicke interprets in a manner almost opposite to this inscription. For the first one, the city of Ermant, which is part of the Theban nome, should have been the ally (relationship by treaty) of Thebes, but it would have arranged itself on the side of the herakleopolitains. For the second, the call of the leader of the army of Ermant is a trap into which Ankhtifi falls, but the nomarch wins the battle against the copto-Theban coalition.
"Theban Battle" :
"The count, the leader of the army of the rural area, Ankhtifi the Brave, says: 'Having gone downstream with my faithful and brave conscripts, I landed on the western bank of the Theban nome, the front of the fleet being (at the level of) the hill of Semekhsen and the rear of the fleet (at the level of) of the domain of Tchemy. My faithful conscripts looked for the fighting in the region situated to the west of the Theban nome, but no one dared to come out for fear of them. Then, having gone downstream, I approached on the Eastern bank of the Theban nome, the rear of the fleet being (at the level of) of the Tomb of Imby and the front of the fleet (at the level of) of the Meadow of Sega. We besieged its walls (the walls of Sega) after it (the city of Sega) had closed its doors in front of her, through fear. Then, its faithful conscripts were transformed into scouts throughout (the regions located) to the west and to the east of the Theban nome, in the desire to look for the fight, but no one dared to leave, for fear of them. It is because me, I am a brave man who doesn't have (his) equal'".
Beginning of inscription N°8:
"Threatening text addressed to the possible violators of the tomb" (The complete text is reproduced here, but it is spread over pillars 2 and 3) :
"As for any nomarch which will govern in Hefat and who will commit a bad and malevolent act towards this sarcophagus or towards any part of this tomb, his arm will be cut for Hemen at his procession of the district, his arm will be cut for Hemen at his processionon on the East bank, his arm will be cut for Hemen at his procession of the (?) bank, his arm will be cut for Hemen at his procession of the great shade and Hemen will not accept his offering of meat the day of His Majesty and Hemen will accept none of his meals and his heir will not inherit from him".
This inscription begins with the warning from Ankhtifi to warn possible looters. It specifies that those who would violate his tomb would suffer as punishment a mutilation dedicated to the local god Hemen. The punishment takes here a sacrificial dimension in honour of a divinity, and must be achieved during a divine procession. It is a substitute for the judicial guarantees formerly furnished by the monarchy.
The idea of the punishment by mutilation will clearly be expressed during the New Kingdom under a form very close to the one of the text of Ankhtifi. According to Vandier, it is however questionable to consider this text as a code of justice.
For Harco Willems on the contrary, this text is the oldest testimony on the death penalty in Egypt. The sentence is executed at the time of a procession of Hemen. Several representatives of the forces of the evil would have been sacrificed for the occasion (bulls, hippos and fishes) as well as the criminals. For Willems, it is question of a true human sacrifice and not of a symbolic execution. This punishment could apply to all cases of desecration, such as the violation of a tomb.
Furthermore, by refusing his offerings, the god also refuses to the guilty party his life in the beyond; finally the punishment also affects the family who is dismissed from the function exercised by the violator.