The tomb of Meryra is one of the six inscribed tombs which constitute the north group () and bears the number 4. The tombs are carved in the cliff which encloses the site of Tell el-Amarna and of which all entries open roughly southwards.
By its measurements and its craftsmanship, this tomb counts among the more beautiful and most imposing and indicates the favoured status of a very high-ranking person of the Amarnian court. The monument was however never finished, and the funeral shaft hasn't even been dug, one of the numerous mysteries which surround this tomb.
Meryra is the only High Priest of Aten who is known to us with certainty. The label of a wine jar shows us that he still performed his office in year 16, and therefore probably at the death of Akhenaten in year 17. He remained in office at least 6 years, an extensively sufficient time to finish a tomb, and yet it was not finished, naturally we don't know why.
Meryra was endowed with the following titles :
"High Priest (lit.: Great of the Seers) of the Aten in the house of Aten in Akhetaten."
"Fan-bearer at the King's right hand."
"Hereditary Noble and High Official" (r-pat haty-a) . One can wonder why this very important title is nevertheless only present once in the tomb. It could be that the word "hereditary" is excessive and that Meryra owes his title to the favour of Akhenaten (and not by being inherited). It may be that by elevation to the high priesthood of the Aten he forfeited the privileges and functions of this rank.
Location of the tomb, method of construction and present state
The tomb is part of the north group; it is dug in the cliff which encloses the city of Akhetaten, close to the entry of the main wadi. See this (Google Earth) and consult the plans below by Norman de Garis Davies. One can locate the tomb more precisely on (courtesy of the Egypt Exploration Society).
b) Plan of the tomb
c) Method of construction
The cliff in which the tomb was dug is made of a rather poor quality rock, which didn't allow the direct creation of sunken reliefs. Therefore, the craftsmen first sculpted the rock directly, to which they then applied a layer of plaster, which they then finely worked to give an aspect of sunken relief, then the whole thing was painted. Finally, details were added, such as the folds of clothes, just with paint.
d) Present State of the tomb
The tomb of Meryra, although it is one of the better preserved, is currently in a rather pitiful state, following mutilation especially relating to the royal couple and the Aten. This mutilation goes back to early history, since it started shortly after the death of the "heretic" Pharaoh, Akhenaten.
The abhorrence of his memory quickly spreads to all of his representations, as well as to those of queen Nefertiti, which in this tomb (as elsewhere) have been savagely attacked, to the point of nearly disappearing in spite of the depth of the sculpture.
Then the Copts and the Moslems settled and transformed the tomb according to their needs, cut into the walls or plastered over them. This is how the pair of columns of the western part of the hypostyle room were destroyed. Numerous niches were cut where the need made itself felt.
Finally some modern pillagers attempted to detach fragments of scenes, thus causing new damage.
This tomb of Meryra thus lost a lot of its original charm, beginning with nearly all its colours. Nevertheless, it remains an historically important monument for the better understanding of the period, and attractive to the visitor. Indeed, one cannot cease from being amazed by the imposing aspect of the doorways, and by the semi-darkness of the first hypostyle hall with its arched ceiling further embellished with a cavetto cornice, which runs all around the top of its walls.
(The photo on the left also comes by courtesy of the Egypt Exploration Society)
Some sections of the facade have been more deeply excavated into the cliff than others, but is almost upright near the doorway, the impression is of having irregular buttresses. Being almost vertical, when one moves away from being close to the entrance doorway it presents a considerable sight. Almost the whole length has an overhang of uncut rock.
The area in front of the tomb was hollowed into the slope of the cliff and dug to a depth of about 6 metres (and a length of about 30 metres) to give the necessary elevation to the front, which then forms a courtyard. This has resulted in it being edged by lateral walls.
The effect of relief around the doorposts which surround the entry has been formed by the digging of a recess around it. At its height, the overhang of the cliff delimits a small awning above of the entry with a lintel surmounted by a cornice.
The decoration of the doorposts is in stereotypical motifs of Amarnian craftsmanship. On each of them can be found a hymn addressed to the sun, to the king and to the queen, repeated in four columns. At the bottom of these columns, Meryra is represented kneeling, in prayer. He can be seen in this stance at the extremities of the lintel, looking towards the centre (, centre line art).
The central part of the lintel is occupied by an often found symmetrical motif (here very damaged). It includes the two double cartouches of the Aten (with the appropriate titulary) faced by the three smaller cartouches of the King and Queen. Thus the sovereigns are represented adoring the sun god.
(). The thicknesses of the east and west walls received two representations of Meryra in sunken relief (which catches the light better in this place). Turned toward the outside, he raises his arms in adoration, reciting the prayers inscribed around him. With a shaven skull, like a priest, he only carries the insignia of "fan-bearer at the king's right hand", a heqa-sceptre and a large fan, appropriate to his function.
West side :
Here, Meryra sees the rising of the morning sun, the prayer makes reference to this :
"Adoration of Aten when he rises on the eastern horizon of the sky. How beautiful is you dawning, O living Ra […] (You) who gives life forever and forever. You illuminate the Two Lands with your beauty, you have crossed the Two Lands with your disk. […] You transfer them to your beloved son. You order the lands to rejoice his heart and to satisfy his Ka. He administers them for you with a [loving] heart […]. The land is subject to him, as it was subject to you. The nine bows (= the traditional enemies of Egypt)
are in front of his Majesty, their chiefs are […] under his sandals. You cause that he reigns for a duration like you, being here with you, eternally, seeing your rays every day. You grant him the Sed-festivals and millions of years. All your places are under his eye, (for) your son, descended from your body, the Lord of the Two Land Nefer-Kheperu-Ra, who gives life."
Two short columns, directly in front of his lower torso, identify him :
"Royal Chancellor, beloved of his lord, favourite whom the Lord of the two Lands fostered, High Priest of the Aten [in the temple of] Aten in Akhetaten, Fan-bearer at the King's right hand, Meryra."
East side :
On this side, Meryra sees the setting of the evening sun. The text is badly damaged :
"Adoration of Aten when he sets in the West horizon of the sky (remember that for the ancient Egyptians the horizon did not represent a continuous line, but the points of emergence and setting of the sun, therefore there are two horizons)
. Your setting is beautiful, O living Ra [… … …]."
Again, two short columns identify him :
"The Royal Chancellor, Sole Companion of his Lord, exact for the King of the South and North, the High Priest of the Aten, etc., Meryra."
The ceiling : (). This is divided into three rectangles by bands of blue hieroglyphs on a yellow base and each area is bordered by a classic "Egyptian frieze" with a further broader inner border of coloured checkers. The centre panel is filled with a pattern derived from bead-work, whist the outer panels contain a pattern of concentric diamonds. It is the only part of the tomb which still contains a recognisable ceiling.
(, ). Differing from other Amarnian tombs, where one passes from the outside directly into the main chamber, Meryra added an antechamber. The result of this makes the deeper parts of the tomb much more solemn.
This is a small square chamber of about 3.60m along each side. Its roof is slightly arched along the east to west walls and a cavetto cornice runs along the walls under the ceiling. This gives the illusion of a constructed rather than an excavated tomb.
1) - The east and west walls
Roughly indicated on the east and west walls is the framing of either doorways (to create a symmetry with the north and south walls) or sites which could have been meant for future shrines. The portals themselves, though plastered, have been left blank. The areas to the left and right of each, as doorposts, have been sculpted with decorative devices (, ). The one of the north side of both the west and east walls (panel (A)) represents an enormous bouquet of flowers arranged in tiers forming one vertical floral composition, while the south "doorposts" (panel (B)), shows the cartouches and titles of the Aten and the royal couple sitting under the rays of the solar disk.
Along the east side of the chamber, running north–south, is a trench. One can also be found in the first chamber of three other tombs of this group. Its significance remains obscure, but perhaps this gully was intended to collect the blood of animals sacrificed in this place.
2) - The two sides of the south entry wall
These are occupied by an upright image of Meryra, this time without his insignia, in adoration reciting the hymn reproduced in blue hieroglyphs next to him ().
It is addressed to the king, who is qualified on the west side as
"the beautiful child of the living Aten". It specifies :
"… … … … As long as the sky lasts, you will last. You will accomplish many years, thousands of Sed-festivals.… … … … Your duration is as eternity, the duration of Ra as sovereign of the Two Lands, the years of Aten in the sky. Your dwelling is in Akhetaten, the perfect place which you raised for Ra and where all men come.".
On the east side, one finds a more personal expression :
" … … … … good sovereign who formed me, who begat me, who made me grow, who associates me to the princes, the Light by which I live, my Ka day after day. … … … … ".
Meryra thus seems to constitute an example of those new men promoted by the king, a parvenu who owes all to his sovereign.
3) - The north wall: periphery of the doorway
(, ). On the architrave at the top one finds at each extremity a small representation of a kneeling Meryra, his arms raised. The central part of the scene has disappeared, but one can still discern the presence of remains of cartouches.
The doorposts on each side include four vertical columns of partly coloured hieroglyphs on a yellow base carrying some prayers. A considerable part of the left jamb is now missing, but the text is recovered from an early copy.
On the left, the text begins (with variations, including once the queen) :
"Praises to you, the living Aten, and to the king's Ka."
The columns then continue :
"May he (the king) grant a great age, and a beautiful funeral to the hill of Akhetaten (the tombs of the cliff) . For the Ka of the High Priest of the Aten, in Akhetaten, Meryra, justified."
"May he grant a good burial after old age in the land of the favoured. For the Ka of the Royal Chancellor and Sole Companion, Fan-bearer at the King's right hand, Meryra, justified."
"May he grant a long duration, seeing your beauty; may the sight of you never fail. For the Ka of the High Priest of the Aten, in Akhetaten, Meryra, justified."
"May he grant the receipt of loaves and drink, offered in the Temple of Aten. For the Ka of the Royal Chancellor, beloved of his Lord, great favourite of the Lord of the Two Lands, Meryra, justified."
On the right, Meryra asks that his name is not forgotten, that the offerings which are made for him are abundant, …
The passage to the first hypostyle hall
The thicknesses are decorated on both sides.
a) - On the right (east)
(). Meryra faces the entrance in the attitude of prayer already described. He is clothed with a long carefully configured garment, which does not present the usual diaphanous transparency of other representations. Around his neck are arranged four gold necklaces, evidence of the king's gratitude and a mark his esteem.
He recites what one has become accustomed to call the Small Hymn to Aten, thus named by opposition to the Great Hymn. If this last is only in the tomb of Ay, five versions of the Small Hymn exist (sometimes more than one copy per tomb) in the tombs of Tutu, Mahu, Apy and Any in addition to the one of Meryra.
All of these texts, being written with the first version of the "didactic name" of the Aten, it can therefore be deduced that they date from a period between the year 5 and the year 9 of the reign, a period for which a second "didactic name" is substituted for the first (see ). It is this second name which one finds elsewhere in the tomb of Meryra (), proving that the decoration of the tomb dates, at least partially, from the second part of the reign.
The Small Hymn is successively about the daily solar cycle and its consequences on creation, then a short section is about the relationship between Akhenaten and the Aten.
With Meryra, the hymn starts with a formula of adoration and then continues as follows :
"Your rising is beautiful, O living Aten, Lord of the eternity. You are radiant, beautiful and gleaming, your love is great and powerful of rays which produce eyes for all that you have created. Your surface shines giving life to hearts. You fill the Two Lands of your love, the good ruler who even formed himself, creating every land and that which is on it, mankind, all herds and flocks and all kind of trees which grown on the ground. They live when you rise for them. You are the mother and father of everything that you made: their eyes, when you rise, see because of you. Your rays illuminate the whole land: every heart rejoices at [your sight. You rise as their Lord. When you set] on the western horizon of the sky, they lie down, as if they had died. Their heads are wrapped, their nostrils are closed until you rise on the eastern horizon of the sky. Then their arms are lifted in praise to your Ka. When you bring life to hearts by your beauty, there is life. When you have sent your rays, the whole country is in festival: the chantresses and musicians lift up their voice with joy in the court of the House of the Benben, your shadow in Akhetaten and in every place which you are satisfied, and in which there are food, provisions and offerings.".
Then comes the king's praise, as sole representative of the god on earth :
"Your son is pure, accomplishing what pleases you, O living Aten, the one who created him, his son, the unique of Ra, in his image, without ceasing eternally."
b) - On the left (west)
(). Here there is a representation of the wife of Meryra, the lady Tinro, described as
"great favourite of the Lady of the Two Lands". She is in the same attitude of prayer as her husband. She is clothed with a long dress of thin linen, hung from her shoulders and flowing over her arms, totally transparent allowing her full form to be seen. It is in a style characteristic of the time. On her head she wears a large wig on which rests a cone of ointment. She recites a long prayer :
"… … … … You rise in the eastern horizon of the sky to give life to everything which you created, mankind, cattle, flying and fluttering things and all kinds of reptiles which are on the earth. They have life when they see you. They lie down when you set. You gave your beloved son, who lives in Ma'at, the Lord of the Two Lands… etc. … and living with you forever, the Great Royal Wife, Lady of the Two Lands, his very beloved, … etc. … being at his side while he satisfies your heart and sees that which you have made every day. He rejoices when he sees your rays. Grant him eternity as King of the Two Lands."
Finally, it can be seen that this speech is hardly different from that of the Small Hymn.
Notice however that she had great fortune to have the right to have herself represented in her husband's tomb, a favour which she probably owes to the fact that she was close to queen Nefertiti. Indeed, one of the numerous originalities of the Amarnian tombs, in relation to those of the previous periods, is the disappearance of the family representations in the majority of the tombs. It was nevertheless about a major wish - and a need - of the deceased until then. Everything now happens as if the tomb is only an extension or projection of royal ideology, for which it represents one of the supports.
The first hypostyle hall
(, ). This represents an imposing room, whose majesty is accentuated again by the imposed semi-darkness. It is almost square, being about 5 metres end to end and nearly 6 metres across. Although the height varies due to the irregular character of the floor -badly or hastily finished- it is about 4.75 metres at its highest point, highest at the northern end. One is immediately struck by the two large columns which are seen on the right, and instinctively one searches for their symmetrical pair. Alas, the two columns of the left have been levelled entirely at the time of reuse of the tomb, to create space. This mutilation has a positive effect however : the whole west wall, showing the royal procession toward the temple, is thus more legible.
The two openings of entry and exit appear majestic because of their imposing height.
All walls of the room are decorated in sunken reliefs, which alas have retained only a little of their original colour.
Surrounding the scenes on all of the walls, represented here in the tomb of Meryra, is a broad border. Nearest the images is the familiar ribbon of coloured rectangles, between green bands; then at narrow intervals follow blue and red bands alternatively. The border extends up to the cornice at the top and but not fully down to the floor at the bottom.
The modern neon lighting gives an unpleasant greenish hue, which indeed doesn't help to capture the quality of the representations (nor have the photographs of the walls!), nevertheless one tries to guess. Finally, the damages inflicted on the tomb after the death of Akhenaten are visible everywhere : the figures of the royal couple have been savagely hammered, as well as their cartouches.
I - The columns and the ceiling
(). The columns are massive (approximately 3.8m tall and a metre in diameter), representing an assembly of eight stems of papyrus with closed heads, bound together by four horizontal bands just under the swelling heads. They rest on a circular tapering base.
On the side which faces the centre of the room, plaster has been added (just below the banding) in order to form an oblong plate on which is represented the beaming disk surmounting the cartouches of the sovereigns and the Aten. At the summit of each column is a rectangular abacus which seems to support the pseudo architrave projecting from the ceiling. The two remaining abacuses carry on their west side the name and the titles of Meryra :
on the south column :
"The High Priest of Aten in Akhetaten, Meryra, justified."
and on the north column :
"The Fan-bearer at the King's right hand, Great Favourite of the Good Ruler, Meryra, justified."
An inscription in very large hieroglyphs runs along the whole length of the outer face of the two architraves and must have added greatly to the decoration of the hall, but it has nearly disappeared today.
The central part of the ceiling situated between these two architraves is flat, but slightly arched and at a higher level in the nave; its decoration has disappeared.
A moulding and cavetto cornice, decorated originally with motifs of green, blue and red plumes, ran all along the walls to the limit with the ceiling, and is only interrupted by the openings of entry and exit, where their own large moulded cornice then takes over.
II - The south wall
A - The south doorway
Its lintel is identical to those previously met. The doorposts carry some prayers in three columns, recited by the kneeling deceased, accompanied by the cartouches of Ra-Horakhty and the royal couple ().
B - West part of the south wall
This is the part located on the right, after having turned around toward the entrance ().
1) - The upper register
This is dedicated to the investiture of Meryra as "Great Seer of the Aten in the domain of the Aten that is in Akhetaten" by the king, accompanied by queen Nefertiti and princess Merytaten.
The bottom of this scene is based level with the "Window of Appearances" of the palace (). This is decorated on its uprights with cartouches and at the base with a floral composition. At the top, the architrave is surmounted with uraei crowned with a disk. This is interrupted at the central part, thus perhaps indicating the entrance doors of the Aten temples, or perhaps because nothing must interrupt the progress of the luminous rays finishing in hands which come down from the disk which surmounts the scene.
Under the cornice, which acts as a balustrade, an immense semi-circular motif resembles an usekh-necklace. The king leans over this balustrade, and seem to be supported on a cushion, represented in dark red with rows of blue diamond shapes. Akhenaten leans from the window to give or to throw something, whilst he proclaims in front of all, the honour of the office which he confers on his servant Meryra.
Meryra kneels below the window accompanied by members of his household. Because the artist was unable to represent this properly, he placed the characters (who would have been side by side) on superimposed levels. At the bottom, Meryra is represented twice; first kneeling then carried in triumph by his close relations and wearing the gold collars around his neck ( and ).
Above, in a small sub-register, are five characters. Four are the scribes who record the royal words :
"… … … Behold, I make you Great of the Seers in the temple of Aten in Akhetaten because you are in my heart, saying : Oh my servant, who listens to the teaching, my heart is satisfied with everything that you are about. I give you this office, saying: You will eat of the stores of the Pharaoh (per aa) - Life, Health, Strength - your sovereign in the temple of the Aten."
At the top there are two groups of lesser officials, clothed in a simple loincloth, separated by the representation of a palmiform mast with a streamer, two of which cross behind all three sub-registers. The four first are bearers of fans, the four at the rear carries a stick in their hand and are probably a contingent of police to ensure order.
Crowning the whole register, and centred by the solar red disk decorated with an uraeus, are the cartouches of the Aten, the king and the queen and the inscription :
"Living and great Aten, Lord of the Sed-festival, master of everything which he surrounds, Lord of the Sun-disk (Aten), Lord of the sky, Lord of the Earth, within the temple of Aten in Akhetaten".
2) - Lower register
(). Below the main register is a second register This forms a sort of dado which introduces the secondary characters who also attended the ceremony, forming a sort of second grouping, but which the artist represented underneath. They turned towards a centre where would have been Meryra. It is difficult to know exactly if these people had a role other than that of spectator. It could be that some of them were tasked with collecting the presents offered by the king to Meryra? The chest represented at top left could be for that purpose.
In any case, clearly distinguishable at bottom right is a group of women singing, beating the tambourine and dancing as a sign of rejoicing. Standard bearers are also present for this moment of jubilation.
On the left side, the harnessed chariot waits for Meryra, to leave the place of the ceremony.
C - East part of the south wall
Here the scene shows the royal couple making offering to the sun. It is also separated into two sub registers: at the top, the main scene, and at the bottom with the secondary characters ().
1) - The upper register
There is no architectural representation in this panel, not even an altar. Only three tables of offerings are illustrated resting on the floor.
The conventions of Egyptian drawing are perfectly respected. The scene shows the king and the queen one behind the other, but who were actually side by side (), who throw a fragrant resin into the two braziers which surmount the offerings on the table. These braziers were in fact in front of the table on which one had stacked the usual animal and plant products. Akhenaten is crowned with the khepresh, and is clothed only with of a loincloth resting on his hips. The whole of his body is represented particularly gynoid (pear-shaped), very similar to that of Nefertiti. [NB: The possible significance of the sovereign's physical representation is discussed in the article ]. Behind the couple are two of their daughters who wear the hanging side lock of childhood - Merytaten and Maketaten (who shake sistra).
Meryra is accompanied by another priest, both are much smaller than Akhenaten. He holds out to the king the products destined for the offering, probably a cone of incense.
Seen here is the position which Akhenaten assigned to the above dignitary of his clergy : the one of an underling, with no theological role since the king and the queen, and them only, could address Aten and provide worship of the cult in its fullness. However, he probably had the power to assist in worship, probably simplified, when the sovereigns were indisposed.
The representation of the disk which surmounts the scene is extraordinary and has never been found elsewhere (). It was the subject of numerous speculations which deserve .
2) - The lower register
(). Of smaller size, it represents (on two lines) what happened away from the scene or outside of the temple. The groups are arranged symmetrically in relation to the centre, toward which they seem to converge.
At top right are two groups of priests, of which one (who stands alone) offers a fumigation vessel; at top left, a group of two men and eight women carrying fans and standards, possibly a personal retinue of the royal family ().
Below, on the left, harnessed chariots wait for the royal family, to take them back to the palace.
At bottom right is one of the most beautiful scenes of all tombs of Amarna.
It represents a group of eight seated men. The first plays a harp, the seven others are obviously chanters, all are blind as is the tradition (and it is known that with the frequency of ocular diseases, blind people were not discarded in the country). They begin with the "harpist's song" which will so often be represented from this second half of New Kingdom, songs which convey a pessimistic idea of existence and a future in the beyond.
What is striking here, is the extraordinary human dimension and realism of the faces produced by the artist : old, with marked features, with wrinkles. It could be that he was inspired by the true protagonism of those who worked in the temple.
In a general manner, in this tomb (as in other Amarnian tombs), the features of the characters are often a lot more detailed than in tombs of previous times, with even the more grotesque striking features accentuation.
III - West wall and west part of the north wall
The whole panel is occupied with a large representation of the royal family going toward the temple of Aten, and with the secondary scenes at the sides and below (). This scene continues on the west part of the north wall with the conclusion, the arrival and the welcome of the sovereigns ().
The exact relationship of this scene with respect to Meryra (who cannot be formally identified) remains uncertain: does it relate to his establishment as High Priest, or does it refer to one of the daily visits by the royal couple when he had taken up this office ?
A - The west wall
1) - Top left - the royal palace
(, ). This is where the procession started, which is shown in Egyptian perspective, where one superimposes what cannot be shown on the same plan.
An external courtyard protected by a wall existed. In the middle the wall is a monumental gateway, of a traditional type but without a lintel (as with all Amarnian buildings: nothing must hinder the passage of light). This is flanked, on the left, by a small doorway. In the courtyard, a servant sprinkles water by hand on clay (for making vessels), while a second sweeps with a small broom.
Only a part of this monument is represented in very large size. The various stacks of food shows the wealth which existed. Some were probably destined to be taken at the temple. Notice that the figurative commodities are isolated outside in the dust and protected from roaming animals by a protective cover in the shape of an inverse V, a reminder of the hieroglyph .
Outside, two men, possibly left in charge of the offerings, hold a discussion, one supports himself on a long cane.
Compare in the tomb, based on two different axes, on the west and east walls.
2) - The procession
This stretches behind the royal couple, spreading under the representation of the palace mentioned above. On two sub-registers, the four royal princesses follow their parents, two in each of two chariots.
The eldest princesses, Merytaten and Maketaten, are in the first chariot, but are nearly erased; they are followed in the second by Ankh (es) -en-pa-aten and Nefer-Neferu-aten- (ta) -sheryt (lit.: Nefer-neferu-aten the younger, to distinguish her of her mother Nefertiti). They are all represented as adult women, which is obviously impossible : the eldest was scarcely in her teens. A comparison can be drawn with their representation on the east wall where the small princesses are represented as children.
In each of the chariots, one of the princesses holds the reins as well as a whip, while the second clings with her left hand to a handle and passes her right arm lovingly around the shoulder of her sister, thus protecting them both from the bouncing of the chariot ().
Each royal chariot is escorted by three more chariots each containing two female attendants, holding plume-shaped fans (omnipresent in Amarnian art). The princesses and the ladies-in-waiting are dressed alike, in a long mantle and a colourful shawl on the shoulders ().
These chariots had to be of a reasonable width because the driver is represented in a small enclosed area at the side, thus separated from the women, and not risking to touch them in case the chariot bounces.
The Amarnian artists liked horses, and in the procession they are of course numerous. Their coat is a dark red, as almost always in Egyptian art in general. Note the stiffness and the lack of a naturalism in the animals. As elsewhere, the artists did not know how to really represent the horse, an animal newly introduced into the country and for which there was no traditional style.
The princesses are further accompanied on all sides (but represented only above and below) by possibly the security service, whose agents are shown (as in all Amarnian tombs) in a bizarre, non natural manner, running while being bent to the extreme, and holding a stick in their hand.
3) - Middle of the procession - the king and queen
(). Akhenaten is represented at a greater scale than Nefertiti, but apart from scale, chariots and horses are almost identical. Perhaps the artist wanted to show that the couple actually shared the same chariot ().
Their chariots are of a very light construction, even the sides of the wooden shell is lightened by a large hole (forming a handle grip at the top), and are similar to those found in the tombs of Thutmosis IV and Tutankhamun.
The king wears a light tunic fastened at the waist by a decorated and fringed sash. He is crowned with the Khepresh helmet, from the bottom of which two red ribbons flow, giving the impression of movement. He holds the reins and a whip in his hands.
The horses have rich harnesses. For instance on their backs, at the base of the neck, is a leather harness surmounted by a disk. Their heads are adorned with a leather hood to which are fixed tall feathers of alternating white red and blue.
Two figures are seen under Akhenaten's horses. These may be grooms, actually running along side their charges or perhaps just added by the artist to fill the large blank space.
4) - In front of the royal procession
( and ). In front of the chariots run the men of the royal guard, shown on three rows.
The top row is formed of six standard bearers, with three types of standard. In front of them are four members of different races : at the front is an archer (possibly Nubian, with a plume in his hair), a man with a spear (probably Asiatic, with a beard), a man with a rounded axe (probably Libyan, with a strange hair style) and finally another archer (possibly Nubian again, plume in his hair).
The second row is formed of soldiers carrying a spear, an axe and a shield; they are followed by a man with a baton (possible the sergeant).
Finally, on the third row are four men who carry a kind of flail, again followed by a man with a baton.
Directly below these rows of guards are four figures, two forerunners of the guard (judging by their stance and batons), greeted by two members of the temple staff.
5) - The lower register
(). Forming by way of a dado, this shows another procession of soldiers, chariots and runners. It is possible that this should be interpreted as the retinue of Meryra himself. But, it is also possible that it could be one which also accompanied the royal couple, but on either side.
B - West part of the north wall
This constitutes the continuation of the scenes of the west wall (shown by the fact that the borders do not stop or start again at the corner), with the arrival with the temple ().
1) - In front of the temple
All the people to the left of the temple are there to receive the royal procession (). The characters at the bottom of the main register again show receipt of the procession, with (this time) four forerunners met by the head officials of the temple. This probably indicates that the rows are intended to be read from bottom to top.
Thus, the individual in the fourth row could be Meryra (although the text which would have confirmed this is mainly missing). He is followed by a group of four, who from the text are :
"Chief attendants of Aten in the temple of Aten in Akhetaten." ().
The next row up contains four fan-bearers, kneeling on the ground, preceding three priests carrying bouquets, the front two lead two fat oxen (which are richly adorned) intended to the sacrifice ().
In the top two rows, women clothed in long pleated dresses are the chantresses who come with tambourines. Note the small girl in the lower row, who holds a festive branch (. (For more information see the article " "). The chantresses are accompanied in each row by several male colleagues, one of which (on both rows) prostrates himself on the ground according to the Egyptian expression,
"smell the earth".
2) - The lower register
Again there is an underlying dado (as with the one of the west wall, to the same scale), subordinate to the large register above, with characters of lower rank, who are bringing to the royal procession sacrificial oxen, fowl and flowers ().
3) - The Great Aten Temple
(). The artist provides a general view of the monument based on a pseudo west-east vertical perspective (west being at the bottom). At the top, the rays of the sun (the Aten) are shown spreading its rays over the temple complex.
The structure is shown as a large oblong structure surrounded by an enclosure wall, the main entry pylon being at the bottom. Small entries give access to two narrow passages which run down the sides. The impressive entrance leads to the outer courtyard, which extends down and around the back of the actual temple, the Gem-pa-Aten (Meeting the Aten). These side extensions to the courtyard are filled with offering tables, representing the hundreds of actual alters which occupied these spaces. Against the lower left outside wall is also represented a slaughterhouse.
Facing the entrance to the Great Aten temple complex is a second pylon, adorned with flag staffs, giving access to the Gem-pa-Aten. This is divided into several sections, each entered through its own smaller pylon, in the first of which is an alter ascended by a flight of steps.
Beyond the end of the Gem-pa-Aten complex, through another pylon, is a further courtyard and another building, the temple sanctuary (). To the right of this pylon sit a group of harpists and to the right is a staircase leading to a stela on a pedestal. The sanctuary contains the Holy of Holies, the whole sanctuary structure is again surrounded by an open area. The left-hand side of the open area contains another slaughterhouse and two busy servants, one sweeping the ground, the second cleaning the inside of a large vessel. The right-hand space has several tables of offerings.
At left and right of the entrance to the sanctuary are two open-ended rectangular areas; the representation in the tomb of Ahmes shows that these acted as small rooms, intended to accommodate the royal family.
All of this can be seen again (though in a different perspective) on the east wall, and will be described in greater detail there.