We point this out as being entirely original in Rekhmire’s tomb because its ceiling runs parallel to the surface of the hill at an angle of 12° to almost 8 m at the west end. The room is less than 2 m, in width but 30 m in long. The vast dimensions of both north and south walls have allowed the realization of a rich and varied iconography.
Each wall includes "secular" scenes in its eastern half and "religious" scenes in its western half, but we are aware that this distinction is rather artificial.
This is the one we see, when turning around after entering the room. It is occupied by the door opening which has two doorjambs is and surmounted by a lintel. The right and left jambs each contained four vertical columns of text which have largely disappeared ( pl Davies-LXXIV).
On the lintel are inscribed four horizontal lines of text in which Rekhmire describes his relationship to the gods:
"The Vizier, the Prince, confidant who can approach the person of God (= the King), who is in the heart of Horus, master of the two lands, the notable to whom hearts are revealed, the sem-priest, the supervisor of all the ceremonial cloths, the Sab, the judge, defender of Nekhen, the priest of Maat, the giver of Maat for the Lord of the Two Lands, the Mayor of the City (= Thebes) Rekhmire . He says: It is Hepet who loosens the ties that are on my mouth It is the God of my city who advances in all as Thoth, fully equipped with my spells and who has loosened the ties of Seth that were on my mouth so (he) might oppose Atum after that Thot would have put in place (?). My mouth is no longer closed, my mouth is opened by Ptah through this, his copper chisel with which he opened the mouth of the Sods. I Sekhem-utet (an unknown Goddess) who is seated in the great western horizon. I am the goddess Sahyt , amid the great akhu (= the transfigured) of Heliopolis. As for my magic and all the words that I have spoken, the Gods are raised for them, all the Ennead of Gods and all the Ennead Goddesses".
It is divided into two large distinct parts ( drawing tb-01). The eastern half includes secular scenes that take place in the temple of Amun, the western half has a series of rituals related to the funeral and ends with a deceased couple seated before a table of offerings.
Eastern (left hand side) of the wall: inspection in the temple of Amun
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One can, in a didactic view, divide the section into four areas, as shown in the drawing above, which is advisable when referring to this entire wall.
At the right end of each section is the Vizier, sitting or standing, recognisable in his robe (a kind of tight tunic up to his chest, held by straps, fringed at its upper part) and holding in his hands the insignia of his office ( view bs-38516-38517, view bs-38516). He is accompanied by his aides who are found behind him on three registers and he has an inscription above him.
Zone 1: monitoring the delivery of goods into the Treasury of Amun
Rekhmire sits to the right on a small stool; he wears the robe of his office and holds a cane and a sceptre kherep ( view xx-04). At his feet, arranged in three sub-registers, other persons "smell the earth" ( view tb-240). Above him there is this text: "The Vizier Rekhmire sees (the plant) uaeh and honey in the treasury of the temple and puts under seal all property given as an offering in the temple of Amun, in the area of his function as supervisor of the records". Three registers are located in front of him of very unequal length due to the slope of the ceiling ( view xx-124).
First register ( view xx-119)
Two peasants "smell the earth"; behind them are the bags in which they transported the tubers of the uaeh plant that are now in large piles in front of them. Other peasants measure the amount with the aid of using bushel measures and scribes note the result. Text: "Receiving uaeh tubers in the temple treasury."
The uaeh tubers are rhizomes of an edible root (Cyperus esculentus); they are known under the names of ground almonds, Tiger nuts, Choufa. These yellow rhizomes form small tubers that turn yellowish brown at maturity. They are consumed dried and take the form in shape and size of a wrinkled hazelnut. They are rich in carbohydrates (starch, sucrose) and fats. These rhizomes appear several times with Rekhmire always nearby, the honey was used to sweeten cakes and some breads.
This is divided into two unequal parts: baking and beekeeping.
Two men pound the rhizomes in a hollowed tree trunk with the caption: "Crush the rhizomes in the treasury of Amun, Lord of the thrones of the Two Lands, to make offerings aâbet at each celebration that His Majesty has established" ( view bs-38503). The "flour" obtained by this rudimentary milling has a coarse texture, despite sieving ( view bs-38499, view bs-38502); moreover, it does not contain gluten and therefore must of neccessity be mixed with wheat flour or barley for making bread or cakes. Two men prepare the dough in a container on a tripod, one stirs the preparation using a spatula, the other pours an unknown liquid (fat, honey?) ( view bs-38497). Then we see several men shaping the dough in the form of cones on a plate of stone or wood ( view bs-38498). Note that there is no mould for the bread and the oven is only shown as extinguished. The cakes are baked upon a sort of skillet on a brazier made of bricks ( view bs-38495). As the inscription says, fat is added to the stove: "Add the fat and cook the cakes Sat". We see the result as oval or triangular cakes, red with yellow edges which a man carries with a yoke and panniers instead of a basket ( view bs-38493).
Honey and dates were the main sweeteners in ancient Egypt. However, beekeeping scenes are rarely represented, although well known since the Old Kingdom. A kneeling man is working to remove the honeycombs that he stacks up on two dishes, while his assistant smokes the bees (A painting by Nina Davies on the Metropolitan Museum website). One bowl contains white beeswax. On the left, two men seal large jars undoubtedly full of liquid honey, while two others are busy around very much broader red dishes, one covering the other, sealed with wax (a white strip is visible on the image seen in view xx-127/01).
The register covers, on one half, the transport (of offerings) to the storage place, and the other half, the buildings of the Treasury.
Transport of goods into a Treasury storehouse
These consist mostly of amphorae and jars containing wine and oil - two northern products - which have been transported. The porters are longshoremen who unloaded the supply ships (see below); many are dressed in a leather loincloth, a mark of the lower social strata. They are directed by a "Captain of the barge for offerings of the temple of Amun"; the caption says:: "Bring the wine in the storehouses of the temple It is the the Vizier Rekhmire who takes delivery". The ‘men at work’ scene is particularly successful. In the middle of the porters an exhausted man is seen laying down his amphora on the ground ( view bs-38513); immediately he is scolded by a foreman: "You! Lift it, do not dawdle!" ( view bs-38510). In front of him, two men, bending under the load, carry with a pole a large jar enclosed in a net ( view bs-38511). They are preceded by two figures who carry large bundles of ? ( view bs-38509, view bs-38514). Two guards, facing the opposite direction, inveigh the men: "Hurry up, we’d expected you to have come out again with a jar by now!".
These various products are piled up outside the entrance of a storehouse whose name has been erased. It is built of mud bricks but with doorposts of stone ( view bs-38507). At the entrance stands a "Scribe of the Treasury (per hedj)" while another scribe is in his train to "Receive the contribution of South oasis (Kharga) and that of the Delta in the presence of the Mayor, the Vizier Rekhmire". When reception of goods is complete and the store sealed, officials return to report to Vizier; we find them on the right side of the scene, (some) standing with arms crossed respectfully and (others) smelling the earth ( view bs-38515) with this text ; "Rejoice, O Prince, all your affairs are flourishing. The Treasure stores (plural) are overflowing with the dues of all foreign countries: moringa oil, incense, wine of Lower Egypt [without] end, all the wonders of Punt, bags and purses filled with good things to the number of millions and hundreds of millions.. For the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, Menkheperre, who lives: It is he who favours you every day."
The buildings of the Treasury
Three storehouses with arched roof are represented together with their contents on the left hand side.
• The first store has no longer any name ( view bs-38508).It contains baskets of fruit (or rhizomes?) as well as other closed ovoid baskets whose contents remain a mystery, as well as pots and vases with geometric decorations and even representations of people ( view xx-128/01). Furthermore, one identifies sandals, jars, but remains puzzled by the purple "bags" with a loop of rope (they come from Oasis or Punt) and greyish bundles (clothing, or unbleached linen rolls?).
• The second store is called "The treasures of gold and silver belonging to the temple.". It contains products of Nubian origin ( view bs-38490, view tb-234, view cm-150A7197): ostrich feathers, conical baskets, bundles (?), white gourds (?), leather shields, ebony beads? (?). Below there are elephant tusks, a leopard skin, and clusters of dom nuts which several monkeys try to steal ( view bs-38505). On the lowest register are heaped up many bows, gold and silver bullion, gold rings and (gold) dust in closed bags ( view bs-38506).
• The third store is named simply "Temple Store". Yet it contains very valuable items from foreign countries: bags of turquoise, carnelian, lapis lazuli, silver ingots, flax in bales and rolls, jars of incense and unguents, heaps of resin fragments, bundles of reeds, silver rings and "gold of the South" ingots, other copper ingots as well as jars of olive oil.
• At the left hand end is the entrance to the "Two houses of silver and two houses of gold.". It looks like the pylon at the entrance of a temple ( view xx-127, arrow).
Zone 2 : Rewarding the servants and their labour ( view xx-125)
Rekhmire is completely erased, while some traces of his assistants still remain behind him. Above the Vizier is this inscription: "Rekhmire inspecting sevants that His Majesty has brought back from his victories over the southern countries ... and a very large number which cannot be reckoned, and the children they have had". It is therefore about captured women.
On the upper part of the two upper registers run two texts: "Rekhmire inspects the servants belonging to the temple of Amun, and workshops belonging to the temple, (those) that the King brought as prisoners and their children as tribute. Give them balls (?) linen, ointments and clothes as their annual supplies ..." and "Rekhmire conducts an inspection of the workshop in Karnak and servants that His Majesty has brought back from his victories on the south and the north country, the flower of his booty the perfect God, the Lord of Egypt, Menkheperre. - life, health, strength - for the manufacture of royal linen, white linen, fine linen .. . the tight linen. They present their clothes Amon for all its festivals, which correspond in their number to the million of years of the Sovereign..."
On the left hand side, you see piled up the products that will be distributed to the women in the form of pieces of linen, packages or large bags (which may contain linen thread?) while the scribes account for all this ( view bg-404). Men dressed in Egyptian (clothes) circulate among women to distribute these pieces of cloth (two men are now cut in half), and liquid unguents (taken from jars) or solid (in dishes) ( view bg-402).
Their clothing and hairstyle distinguish Hittite from Nubian and Syrian women ( pl Davies-LVII, view cm-150A7215); some are accompanied by children, which they attend to from time to time.
The register below shows an enormous accumulation of linen and clothing items that are brought to the servants by men.
The third register, much damaged, included scenes of plowing and livestock activities that were preferred for prisoners of war.