Tomb TT335 of the sculptor Nakhtamon was discovered by Bernard Bruyère on January 16th, 1925, just to the south of TT336, of his brother Neferrenpet and to the north of the one of his brother-in-law Qen, TT4. He is mentioned in both, as well as in TT217 of another of his brothers, Ipuy. Currently, the report of Bruyère, dating from years 1924-1925, in spite of its preliminary nature, constitutes the only source of information concerning the funerary complex detailed below.
This complex originally included a courtyard, a chapel and an underground system of chambers. It is especially this last which will be examined, because the three funeral chambers and their decoration are nearly intact. This typical example of the style known as monochrome painting is of exceptional quality and makes this tomb one of the jewels of Deir el-Medineh.
(source: Bierbrier and Davies)
From different cross-checks, it is known that Nakhtamon lived in the time of Ramesses II, and his tomb can be dated from before year 35 of this Pharaoh's reign.
Nakhtamon was the son of Piay who, like himself, was a sculptor in the "Place of Truth", and of the lady Neferetkhau , who held the title
"Mistress of House". Besides his professional function, Nakhtamon was a wab-priest (purifying priest) of the cult of the deified Amenophis I, of which he was obviously very proud.
Nebuemsheset the wife of Nakhtamon, was the daughter of Pached and the lady Makhai owners of tomb TT292.
No detail will be included here of the sons and daughters of the couple, information about them will be given progressively in the following pages, but it is necessary to note here that one of the sons was called Piay, after his grandfather, which created confusion, notably to Bruyère.
It is necessary to highlight the ambiguity of the word
"sn", usually translated as
"brother" as observed in the tomb of Nakhtamon, because it also used for some of the characters in other tombs produced on Osirisnet. Indeed,
"sn" is also used for male relations between people of different generations (uncle, nephew, etc.) that are directly related or by marriage, but also to designate a brother-in-law or even a student. So Nakhtamon, son of Piay, not only used the term
"sn" for his biological brothers Khonsu (tomb unknown), Neferrenpet (TT336) and Ipuy (TT217), but also for the scribe Usersatet, who was his brother-in-law (the brother of his wife Nebuemsheset), whilst Khaemuaset, Tjanuny and Penduas were the sons of his sister Henutmehyt who married the sculptor Qen (TT4) - and were therefore his nephews. As for the person named Uadjshemsu, he was probably a nephew by the marriage of Nakhtamon (son of the daughter of his biological sister, Sahti, and of the worker Khabekhnet, in tomb TT2, in which he is mentioned). The same ambiguity exists with the word
"snt", the feminine of
"sn", which doesn't only designate a sister, but also a wife, a niece, an aunt, etc.
For this (as for the chapel) trust must entirely be made on the description of Bruyère, because the place has been overturned. The courtyard is substantially square (5.70 x 5.90m) and dug into the cliff which encloses it on three sides. It opens up in the east by a pylon, overhanging by nearly a metre the surrounding courses. On the north side, it formed an extension of 3m square in order to include the entry descent to the funeral chamber. At the time of its discovery, the courtyard, as well as the chapel, was buried under a metre of rubble and soil.
The entrance to the funeral chapel is located to the west, and was preceded by a peristyle area raised by 10cm and with a length of 1.95m, on which rested two pillars sustaining an canopy. To the left of the entry, a very damaged group had been carved in the rocky mass: formed of an upright man and woman, in a walking stance, it seems to have never been finished (see photo).
Its entry is in the centre of the facade. Through an opening 1.15m long, entry is made into what remains a room of 3.95m wide (north-south) by 2.95 to 3.30m in depth, and a height of 2.25m. The walls have lost all of their coating following a fire: there is now absolutely nothing.
This opens up in the extended area in the northern side of the courtyard (see ). At its mouth, it measures 0.93 x 1.70m and descends underground to 7m. This makes it one of the deepest of Deir el-Medineh. The shaft, partially lined with bricks, heads in a westerly direction, into the rock. It was created producing a staircase starting in the courtyard and descending to the lower chambers. Once work in these finished, the fourth wall of the well shaft (totally blocking the first part of the steps) was constructed and the first section was filled, becoming thus a smooth solid wall (see ). The modern clearings partially re-established the original stairway descent, except that it is now by a wooden staircase that ones entry to the chambers is made.
At 3.30m from the bottom, the quarrymen decided to enlarge the shaft in the longitudinal (west) direction, with a consequential creation, above the entry doorway, of a ceiling area of 0.95m, tilted at a 30° angle, followed by a vertical section of 1.10m from the base of the slope. The vertical portion no longer contains, at the top and on the right, some lines (features) of a hieroglyphic text formerly arranged in vertical columns on a white background.
The sloping panel retains the remains, although difficult to see, of two registers (see ). It is finally on the drawing from the original notebooks of Bruyère, put on-line by the IFAO, that it is possible to see these best (see opposite).
A goddess with sagging breasts, a sign of fertility, is knelt in a very curious manner in front of the Theban mountain. From a lack of space, the artist chose to leave the legs in a horizontal plain, whilst the rest of her body is placed perpendicularly, facing forwards, looking towards the observer. She represents Nut, who holds between her hands the disk symbolising the sun which is going to enter the west in the Duat (the underground world), where it will assure the nocturnal gestation in order to be able to return again to the world the following day. Usually, at dawn, the goddess expels from her arms, the beaming disk, as in the tomb of Nebenmaat, TT220 (see ). A god, whose body is sheathed in a shroud, stands before the goddess on a bevelled Ma'at hieroglyph, holding two flails (whips) in his hands. This can only be Osiris.
Nakhtamon, whose name has disappeared, and his wife
"His sister, mistress of the house, Nebuemsheset", of whom the name remained legible (see , somewhat fuzzy) kneel, arms raised, in front of the entrance to the tomb, which is, at the same time, the entry to the underworld. To the right is a representation of the Ennead in an indented luni-solar disk. The names of the two standing mummiform gods have disappeared.
This is 1.85m high and 0.75m wide. It was originally closed by a wooden door whose hinges were on the north side, which explains why this face of the wall was not decorated.
The south side of the entry, carries a decoration of 0.70m wide, in two superimposed registers.
The top register is surmounted by the hieroglyphic sign of the sky. Beneath this, the solar barque travels towards the east on the Nile of the underworld (stars can be seen). The young sun, still evolving, is represented by the Khepri scarab.
The rest of the wall is occupied by a large image of the deceased turned towards the entrance, arms raised, chanting a poorly preserved hymn to the rising sun. This kind of sun worship was typical on the doorposts of Ramesside chapels. It is not sure whether Nakhtamon had been named, because the name which appears at the end of the text is the one of Piay (his father).
Entry is now made into the underground funeral complex, formed of three chambers. It was once inaccessible to the living after the finish of the funeral ceremony. The two first chambers, A and B, are on the same level (approximately 20cm below the bottom step). These were the rooms of welcome, where are mentioned the deceased's numerous family and where the offerings were placed on the day of funeral ceremony. The third room, C, 1.8m further down and accessed by another flight of steps, corresponds to the actual burial chamber.
Now on to chamber A.