TOMB 340 was discovered by Bernard Bruyère in 1925. It is a tiny vault located below a courtyard and which one reaches by some steps.
It is possibly one of the oldest tombs of a craftsman from Deir el-Medina, dating from the very beginning of the 18th Dynasty. This makes it unprecedented for this time.
Like all the local tombs, it was initially dug into the rock then the cavity thus formed was inbuilt with raw bricks. This technique made it possible to obtain an almost smooth surface, then the surface was subsequently lined with a sealer of mud (a coating of earth and straw) and then plaster.
Of the courtyard of Amenemhat one cannot guess much because the roofing has disappeared and only the south wall, which contains the south pilaster of the facade of the tomb, is original.
The north wall which butts against the north pilaster (and damaging it) was built by when he had his tomb constructed (TT3) to the north of that of Amenemhat. A cornice to the entrance which currently continues on the pilasters mark the top of the facade; it is pierced in its centre by an vaulted entrance.
The disappearance of the mud on the south pilaster brought to light large bricks in dark, very compact silt, of 30cm x 15cm x 7cm. On the cornice, square bricks (30cm x 30 cm) were used, which were cut in order to obtain the characteristic profile of the Egyptian entrance and about which one can wax lyrical.
Two steps coarsely cut into the rock lead to an arched corridor, covered in a fine white distemper in its upper part.
The chapel is an very small oblong room whose long axis is perpendicular to the entry corridor (). It is covered by a so-called Nubian arch.
In front of the entry door, but shifted slightly toward the left, is a small niche with a rounded top.
They are known from the readings of the inscriptions made by JM Kruchten.
It is Sennefer, one of the deceased's sons, who purported to have written about them (). However one discovers quickly that he was almost illiterate, and in any case did not have any real training as a scribe.
Indeed the texts are full of mistakes and orthographic peculiarities that suggest that Sennefer was content with re-transcribing some signs that he had met elsewhere, without understanding them; as soon as he had to show evidence of originality, the result was very mediocre. These blunders complicate in particular the identification of the female characters and the family ties between all and sundry.
In this tomb, only the deceased characters carry the title of "justified" (lit. "true of voice") : the grand-parents of Sennefer (Ma'an and Hut), his mother who was the first wife of Amenemhat (Satamon) and the third of the sons.
The identification of the four sons and the four girls is uncertain, no more that their maternal filiation. Only Sennefer and the small Nubneferet are certainly children of Satamon.
The funerary texts re-transcribed by Sennefer are very brief, coming from the more usual formulas which could be found on the funeral furniture of the more modest circles.
From it one can thus deduce the deceased's social origin, very certainly a worker of the Theban tombs, could have been the first to receive authorisation to dig his own burial chamber.
The decoration of the tomb is incomplete, which permits us to follow the stages of its creation, only the south and west walls being finished.
The range of colours of the tomb is rather reduced: on a yellow base one finds a lot of green (it is even the colour of Anubis, instead of the usual brown and black), brown and an immaculate, very opaque, white for the clothes. The outlines of the silhouettes are normally red, but they are black for the green surfaces and white for the black surfaces.
The global style is very antiquated, but at the same time neat, with however an overall stiffness of the characters.
The chapel would have been intact if mutilations, certainly during Coptic times, had not destroyed all human, divine and animal faces, and certain symbolic representations.
The south wall (), which forms one of the two heads of vault, is surrounded by a black and white motif forming a chain which, by its width, catches the visitor's gaze on entering.
Thus in the delimited space, the composition distributes itself in two registers of slightly unequal height, the divine in highest and human below, separated by a papyrus mat. The lower register is even subdivided into three parts.
The composition is remarkably symmetrical, with a central axis represented at the top by the two udjat-eyes separated by a brick coloured vase on which sit green and yellow balls of natron (or incense). It is in this way that the Egyptians readily showed the content of vessels containing solid products.
Immediately underneath, the triple hieroglyph of water. This surmounts a text of five columns of which we will speak of again ().
Next come the scenes showing the deceased in worship, in a near perfect symmetry, before Osiris on the right and Anubis on the left.
a) - Amenemhat
Kneeling in front of a table, only dressed in a short loincloth, he raises his hands in a sign of worship, inviting the divinities to accept his offering. The tables of offering are here identical: a tray of alabaster and central green coloured foot and will differ in the remainder of the tomb only by some of the commodities that they hold. Here, there are four breads (two round and two oval) decorated with sesame seeds, a basket of grapes, of a cluster of grapes, a courgette, on top of a leg of beef, a heart and ribs of beef, as well as a thick bundle of onions.
It is necessary to imagine it all spread on the table, but the commodities have been "pilled" so that none are lost from view, according to the principle mentioned above.
Under the table, two red ochre vases placed on a support and around which the stem of a lotus bud is entwined and whose content is unknown.
b) - The two gods Osiris and Anubis
Represented in perfect profile, they have green flesh, which is exceptional for Anubis. They are seated on the cuboid throne of the gods: a square seat with a low back covered by a white cushion, of which the flanks, present a decoration of feathers over alternate bands of red and green; in the bottom corner, a red square is normally used to convey the sema-tawy symbol of the joining of Upper and Lower Egypt, but as is often elsewhere the case, it has not been executed. The gods have their feet on a green coloured footrest, in the shape of ma'at sign.
Osiris is represented in a conventional manner. He carries the false beard of the long dead god, and he is covered with the crown associating the white mitre and two feathers, abnormally small here.
His body is wrapped in a white tunic-shroud of which only the arms are visible. Notice that, in our western mind, we would consider this as the artist's clumsiness: one of the two hands holds the heqa-scepter and the flail as well as a was-sign (the wrong way round !), while the front arm that points toward the table of offering passes in an unrealistic way before the scepters. It is here a question of the artist of putting forward what is fundamental in death: by this gesture, the god accepts the offering.
One cannot however prevent oneself from being struck by the stiffness which the image displays. Because of the lack of space and a not completely sensible arrangement of figures, the artist could not incline the god's crown backwards, nor to give to the head a better proportion in relation to the body.
Anubis is proportionally better represented (). He also has his body enveloped of a white shroud, which is exceptional for this god. His clear tripartite, green wig decorated by a white dotted line, contrasts with the green dark of his flesh. He holds in his right hand the long was-scepter. Before him is the inscription Inpw imy-wt.
One can distinguish the three parts here: two half registers superimposed by seated characters, and a representation on the right of a couple seated before a table of offerings, which occupies about a third of the space.
a) - The couple on the right
They are seated on a chair with a high, slightly inclined back in dark wood; the feet, in the shape of loin's paws, rest on small white pedestals with black stripes. For lack of space the chairs appear as one and the spouse seems seated on his wife's knees but it is only a principle of figuration.
The text above the couple reads: "Prayer to Osiris so that he grants all good and pure things to the ka of Amen (em) hat, justified, and (also) his wife whom he loves, the mistress of the house, his beloved every day, Nubneferet".
Both Amenemhat and his wife have an excessively long and narrow torso, thin arms and arched back. The table of offerings before them is very compact, like the one described above.
His head and his neck are destroyed entirely. He wears a well adjusted short-sleeved shirt and a long loincloth on or under which he tied a short loincloth to a triangular front-piece. The clothes and the nails are of an opaque white, as is the case for all the characters of the tomb.
The right hand of Amenemhat holds, like a sceptre, a stem of lotus of which he holds the blossom to his nostrils. The lotus not only makes reference to the myth of the creation of the world, but it is also by its heady perfume an invitation to love, which is always a promise with the renewal of life. Every time that the deceased or their hosts hold to their nostrils a lotus blossom it is therefore with the perfume of eternity that they intoxicate themselves as much with the perfume of the plant.
The wife of Amenemhat
This refers to the second wife of Amenemhat, the step-mother of the scribe Sennefer who wrote the inscriptions of the tomb, and she was still alive at the time of the construction of the chapel.
She puts her right hand on her husband's shoulder and stretches her left hand toward the table of offerings. She is clothed of a sheath with only one strap, but this is more a principle of figuration and no of a particular model of dress, because this detail is never observed in sculptures in the round. The bracelets, marked by three small black features, decorate her wrists, her biceps and her ankles. The head of Nubneferet is destroyed, as the one of her husband.
The breast is represented conventionally with a thick black nipple, without relief. The colour of the flesh follows the Egyptian conventions: red ochre for the men, yellow for the women.
b) - To the left of the table ()
The deceased's four sons and four girls are distributed in two half registers, the men in the top and the women below. A character of the same sex, situated on the right, serves drink to each group.
The similarities between the groups are numerous, which would probably have been symmetrical if space had permitted it.
All characters are skinny, very bent and globally stiff. The distance that separates their nose from their ear is abnormally long, what constitutes a criteria of dating. The rarely preserved eyes are very large. The breast is represented, as always, like a prominent nipple seen 3/4 view.
The characters are seated on stools and stretch their right hand toward the table of offerings, indicating that they are also going to share in the funeral destiny of Amenemhat.
Each carries an archaic version of a "funeral cone" on the head. One notices their flattened, hardly prominent, character. Nadine Cherpion proposes, with justification, to see there a purely symbolic representation of the perfumes and ointments, which are to be used by the character. Indeed, the Egyptians, not having a material way to represent these entities, seem to have chosen this means to suggest the pleasant odours, a particularly important thing for them, especially in the erotic context where we are evoking revival by sexuality.
How besides to imagine placing cones of slowly melting fragrant grease on wigs. The wig would have been very quickly damaged, however it was intended to be about retaining a relatively precious object.
However many authors continue to favour the physical reality of the ointment cone, as one can see in the great Oxford Encyclopaedia.
The stools of the sons are painted white; the disposition of the struts of these seats form an on-going motif in Egyptian furniture and the links which tie the different elements are minutely detailed.
Before the first character, one reads "his son Amen-iunu (…), before the third "his son Nebma'at, true of voice", before the last "his son Ay, j (ust of voice) ". The effigies of the first and second son are mutilated very severely. Their representation is based on the one of their father. All have a naked torso and wear a short loincloth with a triangular front-piece, a green collar and a short round wig. In their left hand closed on the chest, a piece of bent material.
A servant, clothed only in a simple loincloth and a short wig, stretches out to the first son (the eldest) possibly a cup. Behind him four tall, very round, earthenware jars of a lilac hue and with red and black decor, closed by an upturned white cup, as well as a smaller rose coloured vase with a flat-bottom from which he draws the drink that he offers (). Notice that, for lack of place, these jars are not on the same level as the characters and that they rest on a papyrus mat.
The lower row of four young women, clothed as their mother, are seated in what appears to be a favoured hierarchical position, even though their stools are smaller and less elaborate than those of their brothers.
The inscription in front of the first lady of the row reads: "his daughter Mut", before the second "his daughter Nubneferet", before the third "his daughter Hepet", and before the last "his daughter Irepet". Their wigs are curled and carry a small "coronet" testifying to their status ().
They carry a kind of diadem or crown of fresh flowers, and a large lotus blossom seems to spring from their foreheads while their left hand holds a lotus bud. We have already indicated the symbolic role of the flower which is confirmed here: these are his daughters, who direct towards Amenemhat the representation of the embryo in gestation (the bud) and the open flower of the rebirth.
The common Egyptians didn't marry their daughters or their sisters, but here the girls must fulfil the erotic role reserved for the goddess of the love, Hathor.
The little maidservant holds out a cup towards the first lady of the row. Notice that the earthenware jars have, this time, been able to be represented on the same level as the characters ().
The papyrus mat spreads under the seats of the young ladies and under the vases, but stops before the table of offerings and the seats of Amenemhat and his wife, doubtless on account of the height because its lengthening would have obstructed the representation of the two characters.
The seats of the young men rest on a simple line, according to the principle already seen of the superposition that replaces the perspective, but the jars intended to serve them are arranged on a much moved mat.
It is not insignificant that the artist represented the girls rather than the boys on a mat. Indeed, the papyrus, in addition to being able to be used as covering on the earthly soil, also possesses a symbolic value. The new gestation of the dead will indeed be made, as when Isis gave birth to Horus and Osiris was resuscitated, in the water of the marshes. And the main plant which one finds in the marshes is the papyrus.
So each time that on an Egyptian monument one offers to the deceased papyrus and lotus, it is not only a bouquet of flowers that one offers, but it is much more the wish of eternity which one offers to him, while making an allusion to the two stages of resurrection, the gestation (papyrus) and the "exit on the day" (lotus).
The west wall is decorated at the top with a kheker-frieze and an Egyptian stick. It is divided in half by a niche slightly off-centred toward the left, which allows the addition of a supplementary character on the right part of the wall. The more or less symmetrical aspect is reinforced above the niche by the representation of vases and jars presenting a pleasing perspective effect; they rest on a papyrus mat which should normally have been represented at the foot of the niche ().
a) - The niche
It is small in size: 0.34m. wide x 0.33m. high x 0.25m. deep. It is whitened internally and is decorated on its periphery with five bands of colour: light-blue -white -red -white -blue. It is currently empty but must have contained a statue of the deceased or a stela.
b) - On both sides of the niche and turning their back to it (and thus looking at towards the gods), the two couples are represented seated before a table. The difference in proportion is immediately striking, notably with regard to the size of the heads, definitely larger and disproportionate compared to the bodies on the right than those on the left.
The deceased's woman possesses the same attributes, however, in the two representations, and the same as those already seen for the image of Nubneferet on the south wall.
Notice that, as with the girls of Amenemhat, she also displays on her forehead an open lotus flower directed toward her husband's head, who is therefore "flanked" from in front and behind.
Under his seat, the material for makeup, represented by the mirror (known as Hathoric) and the pot of kohl with its short stick, participate the erotic context destined to awaken the sexual power of the "sleepy" dead also so that he can be born again of his own works.
c) - On the left of the niche (), the couple seated on a seat with a high back are the parents of Amenemhat (the grand-parents of the "scribe" Sennefer), Ma'an and Hut.
Above of them, one reads: "Prayer to Osiris, the great god, sovereign of eternity, so that he grants all good and pure things to the ka of Ma'an (Khamen ?), true of voice - that is his son who makes live his name, Amenemhat, it is his son Sennefer who makes their name live" and "His wife whom he loves, his adored, Hut, true of voice; his son Sennefer".
Ma'an is clothed in the same way as Amenemhat on the south wall, and is represented with the same gesture. The table of offerings prepared for the couple is practically identical also.
d) - On the right of the niche ( and ) is represented a scene very similar to the one represented The couple this time represented by Amenemhat and his first wife Satamon, already deceased and who thus have the right to the title "maa-kheru" ("true of voice", justified) but with two additional characters: a girl knelt at the feet of her parents and a young man, the son of the deceased (and therefore beautiful son Nubneferet), who presents to his parents the offerings piled on the table.
The inscription above the couple reads: "Prayer to Osiris lord of the West, so that he grants all good and pure things to the ka of Amen (em) hat, true of voice - it is his son Sennefer who makes his name live" and "His wife whom he loves, who is adored every day (true of voice), Satamon, true of voice".
Before the girl knelt at the feet of her parents, clothed like her mother, : "her daughter Nubneferet" (who bears the same name therefore as his second wife).
Finally, above the officiant: "Receive all good and pure things for the ka of Amenemhat, (from) (his) son Sennefer: as for me, it is I the son who writes correctly who makes live (his) name" ( and ).
The man who presents the offerings has a naked torso, a short loincloth with a triangular front-piece, similar to that of the man who serves drink on the south wall, a short wig which reveals his ears and a green collar; he does not have a "cone" on his head.
Although, as on the south wall, Amenemhat is seated at the table of offerings, he has here a naked torso; on this torso is spread a necklace of an iridescent polychromy. The deceased wears a short false beard and a long wig which is clear of his ears, two details which one cannot observe on the south wall because his face is destroyed, but are visible here.
( and )
The north wall is incomplete: it does not have any inscriptions and, apart from the udjat-eyes, the vase and the sign for water which decorate the top of the round arch, the figures have neither outlines nor interior details.
The manner in which the artist proceeded there required skill, since instead of drawing the outlines first as we would tend to do, he started by placing the bulk of the basic colours (green, brown, black, white), in order to evoke the silhouettes; only then did he surrounded them with a red, black or white feature and as well as executing the interior shading details.
The general organisation into two registers, divine in the upper and terrestrial below, is identical to the one of the south wall. The lower register, dedicated to the funeral ceremony, he has even subdivided into two.
It is identical, in reversed symmetry, to that of the opposite wall. This time Anubis is on the right, as always with his unaccustomed green flesh, and Osiris is on the left.
The reading of the scene must in fact be made from the left, since the lower register where a woman, turned facing the cortege, seems to welcome it while offering a vase of ointment. The funeral procession heads toward the west, while going from Anubis toward Osiris (and therefore the mummy's preparation toward rebirth).
At the head one finds four porters with chests whose carrying straps have not been represented. Each man carries in principle two chests, in fact only six instead of eight are represented, due to lack of space, in a rather ungainly manner (at less at this stage).
- Behind the porters of chests, is a group of mourners (which is difficult to identify) in sheath dresses with straps and tripartite wigs, turned around toward the continuation of the cortege while raising their arms at right-angles ().
Facing the mourners, advance six porters with offerings. The first holds in his hands a nu-vase and a bes-vase; the next two each carry a casket, the fourth and the fifth, a pedestal or a stool with struts. the last, whose silhouette is fairly damaged, a bag or a fan. All porters with funeral furniture in this register are clothed in the same way: very simple short loincloths and short wigs covering the ears.
In the upper register, where the second part of the procession is represented, one first sees eight women, feet together and in a tight sheath dress of archaic style, of which the gestures of the arms are quite varied: hands crossed on the chest; arms down the body; both arms raised.
Next comes the catafalque. It is carried by five men and is preceded by two cattle and a drover, which means that at certain times of the journey the catafalque was hauled, but that here the cortege crosses a rocky or more difficult passage, probably in the mountain.
The red catafalque, in the shape of an Egyptian shrine, is placed on a barque of which the prow and the stern are constituted of umbels of papyrus. Inside the catafalque, the anthropoid coffin is decorated of yellow bands intended to receive some inscriptions and the mask is framed by a green wig. On a line of soil, that has not yet been drawn above the cattle and their drover, three mourners constitute a small sub-register. Kneeling, the bust tilted forwards, they carry both hands to their faces.
This wall was hardly sketched and allows us, better than the north wall, to see how the artist worked.
Before applying the colours, he calibrated the wall and set up the scene by drawing in white on the yellow base layer a few lines of an extremely summary sketch of the subject.
He sometimes went over these white lines with charcoal.
After having portrayed the attitudes and the subjects, he then applied the colours in bulk, in order to suggest the subject a little better. He proceeded colour by colour and not figure by figure; thus, only the green and the white have been applied on this wall.
It was only after having applied all basic colours one after the other that he executed the final shading of the contours and the internal details (see north wall).
On two registers of unequal height we guess that two couples would be seated before a table of offerings.
The lower couple breath the perfume of lotus flowers. At the top, it is a man and a woman, recognisable to their clothes, who present the offerings to the couple; below, it is an only man.
On the lower register, two chemise-dresses similar to the one worn by the small maid on the south wall are sketched at the feet of the couple; they indicate that he intended to represent at this place two girls or two maidservants.
The outlined tables of offerings are furnished in the same way as on the other walls.
The south half of the wall has been painted in yellow, but has received neither decoration nor outline of decoration.
Painted on a yellow base like the rest of the tomb, the decor of the vault evokes a vine charged with fruit.
In the squares of a checkerboard drawn with the red ochre and that represents the light frame of the bower, the artist inscribed, with a regular alternation, sometimes a vine-leaf, sometimes a bunch of grapes.
The bunches consist of blue oval masses on which of the black points represent the fruits. Every cluster is provided of two stalks painted in red, which provide a very natural representation. The leaves, of which the ribs and the jagged contours are executed in black, are of a light green and are divided into three lobes, the small stalk which connects them to the lattice being painted in red.
At every intersection of the checkerboard, a small white cross creates the ties which fix together the elements of the arbor.
The grapevine descends a little lower on the west side than on the east side, so that the khekher-friezes are not perfectly in line with each other.
The representation of this domestic grapevine is unique in the Theban necropolis. Only the , the famous "Tomb of Vines" (TT 96) possesses a comparable ceiling, but there one exploited the irregularity of the ceiling to represent a wild grapevine which grow from stock represented to the bottom of a wall and whose twining stems spread freely on to the ceiling as while following closely all the irregularities. The depiction of the leaves is also very different in each of the two tombs.
The grapes are associated symbolically with Osiris. Indeed the period of the wine-harvests announces the arrival of the flooding. However the beginning of the rise in the water level always carries the ferruginous materials that give a reddish colour to water. The early Egyptians associated the juice of the grape to this flooding and to the blood of Osiris dismembered by his brother Seth. In Sennefer, it is also next to the god's body that the stock originates which climbs upwardly from his body to bloom on the vault.
The wine produced by the grapevine is integral in the substances necessary for the deceased's rebirth: by the intoxication which it generates, it releases the sexual instincts by which means the ritual seeks to make reappear.
Tomb 340 includes numerous decorative friezes.
The arched walls (north and south) as well as the entry door are surrounded by a black and white motif. Existing since the Old Kingdom, this motif which derives from a particular texture technique called "box" here has an unusual width ().
The long sides of the room (east and west) are separated doubly from the vault by a kheker-frieze and below that a band of coloured rectangles known as an "Egyptian frieze" ().
On the lower part of the west wall, two red horizontal lines indicate that he had intended to finish the wall by a decorative band of alternate colours, like those which one finds in numerous Theban tombs, but they remained in the state of preparation.
On each of the long sides of the chapel, a kheker-frieze separates the decor of the walls from that of the vault.
According to Mackay, these kheker, which we find - as a rule - only at the top of walls, represent "reeds or the stems of another plant bound together at the top and gathered once more just above the base, then widening under this knot". The "small disc" which one sees on the lower part of the ornament would therefore be a folded back knot. According to Petrie it would be necessary to see in the kheker motif a principle of representation intended to convey the idea of the junction of a vertical wall and a roof; the small discs would represent the section of the horizontal stems of papyrus that form the roof.
Finally the "Egyptian frieze" is made up of a set of small rectangles of alternate colours. These are separated one of the other by three thick vertical features: -black -white -black. The colours of the actual rectangles follow each other in the following order: blue -yellow -light–green then red.
C- As for the black and red decor of the vases represented on the south and west walls of tomb 340, it constitutes what is called the "brown- and red-painted style", derived from the Middle Kingdom and the Second Intermediate Period, and characteristic of the extreme beginning of the 18th Dynasty. The tomb of Amenemhat dates therefore from this time and presumably from the period Ahmose - Amenhotep I.