This south wall is on the right when entering the chamber. It is logical to examine it now, because to some degree its upper register relates to that to the west of the entry (already discussed).
The wall is divided into two registers of almost equal height: at the top is a double scene of worship, whilst the bottom register is subdivided into three superimposed sub-registers appropriate to the profession of the two owners. This wall was also vandalised, but it is well worth noting the beauty of the remaining colours.
This is divided into two sub-scenes of slightly unequal size. On the right, which was originally the widest of the two, the main character is lost. This scene has, in addition to the one on the left, a young woman who stands behind a man who is clothed the same as the one of the left-hand scene, who faces in the opposite direction.
The standing couple on the right-hand side pay homage to the goddess Hathor of the horizon. Neither the man nor the woman are identified, possibly deliberately, thus allowing the viewer to see either Ipuky / Henutneferet or Nebamon / Tepu, which could also explain the emptiness of the text columns. The upper part of the woman is now lost, but can be seen in the of Davies. The couple hold up their hands in worship (although the woman's left hand holds a lotus blossom and buds) in front of an image which is usually never found in contact with the entrance doorway, that of Hathor in her form of the 'Cow of the West' as she emerges from the Theban mountain. The scene was already mutilated in the days of Davies, but what remains at the bottom, a mound of earth, leaves no doubt. A possible indication of what might have originally been there was given by Davies, based on an image taken from a papyrus (see ). A similar image can be found in the tomb of Queen Titi (QV52), in the Valley of the Queens (see ). Between the couple and the now missing image, also partially lost, is a table laden with food offerings and a large vase in which stands a bound sheaf (as in the Gardiner hieroglyph M37 ), supposed to incite the goddess to leave the hill. The last column of text (the only one which survives) above the man says:
"[…] For your ka, Hathor, mistress of Thebes, lady of the heavens".
In this scene nearly symmetrical to the previous one, Nebamon pays homage to the deified couple Amenhotep I / Ahmes-Nefertari (see ). For further details see dedicated to the pharaoh Amenhotep I and his mother, the queen Ahmes-Nefertari, and their cult worship.
The royal couple are seated on low backed chairs of and archaic type with side panels of red and blue, resting on a reed mat. They are located within a large structure with a yellow background, which in turn rests on a rectangular platform with a decorative border. At the front is a projection (undecorated, just an outline) which slopes forwards, giving this base the standard form of the "Ma'at" hieroglyph. The roof is decorated with a coving, topped with a frieze of uraei. It is supported by multicoloured lotiform pillars. The yellow background translates as it having panels of golden wood.
The image painted by Davies shows the splendour of the scene (see )
The king is represented wearing the blue khepesh helmet, with a uraeus at the front. On his loincloth is a colourful front piece and the spreading flaps of a red scarf or waist band. Like Nebamon, he wears a varied selection of wrist bands and upper arm bands. One is of plain gold, the others being gold decorated with colourful beads or semiprecious stones. With his right hand, the pharaoh holds an "ankh", the sign of life, whilst his left is folded across his chest, holding the Heqa sceptre, one of the major attributes of royalty. In front of his face, were originally the cartouches which included some of his names, written in red on a white base.
The representation is based on the one of Amenhotep III towards the end of his reign, which is additional proof that these images are not portraits.
The queen, whose upper part is today at the Hanover museum (image on the right), has a face and neck of black coloured skin. The rest of her skin, probably to indicate that it was covered by a fine semitransparent material, is grey in colour. This does not signify that she was Negroid: her mummy was that normally attributed to the Queen. A thing of significance is the presence of a uraeus at the front of headdress and the tail of a vulture at the rear, with the vulture wings covering the sides and rear of her head. The name of Ahmes-Nefertari has remained legible in the cartouche above her head. She holds her son tightly by the left shoulder and around his waist as normally a wife would do.
The offerings stacked on a reed mat in front of and on a level with the bottom of the kiosk, doesn't rest on a table. Instead, as in the right-hand side scene, there is again a vessel on top of which is a bound sheaf, recalling that the deified queen maintains a connection with the goddess Hathor. The bound sheaf is not easily visible in the painting by Davies, but it can clearly be seen in the . The accompanying text is partially mutilated:
"[…] [Lord] of the Two Lands, Djeserkare, gifted of life. Bowing [in homage to the wife of the] god, Ahmes-Nefertari, who lives, that you may grant [all kinds of] offerings […] every day. To be provided by you […] as a favoured servant who is in your following. (Spoken) by the sculptor of the Lord of the Two Lands, Neb[amon], justified.".
This is further divided into three sub-registers, although at the left-hand side of the top two is a scene which extends the height of these two combined.
These are dedicated to activities of handicraft on wood and metal, a surprising theme, not normally found at this time (as far as we know), the nearest example is in the tomb of Rekhmire, TT100, which dates from the end of the reign of Thutmosis III and the beginning of that of Amenhotep II (for example, see ). On the other hand, this theme is usually only for characters of very high rank (Rekhmire was a vizier). In any case, it confirms that Nebamon and Ipuky had reached a certain social standing, which makes their case very different from that of other workers of the village of Deir el Medineh, who were also craftsmen.
These registers, otherwise nearly complete, have been mutilated in the centre of the middle sub-register by the deliberate removal of this section (see ). The actual content is discussed in detail below. The only text in these three sub-registers was located in this now missing area.
Occupying the height of the two upper sub-registers, two activities (one above the other) take place in front of a character seated on a stool which is of a very thin white structure (see ). In his right hand he holds a large bouquet of lotus flowers, whilst the gesture which he makes with the other signifies that he is speaking. He is not named, again probably deliberately, so that both deceased can be imagined performing this function.
The two tomb owners both held the titles "sculptor in chief", "chief of the sculptors in the Sacred Place" and "supervisor of the balance", which indicates that they had the responsibility for the precious metals which entered and left some of the workshops. With regard to metal working the title sculptor would be replaced by engraver, but they also had the responsibility for work in wood. The importance of their responsibility far surpasses that of a simple worker.
Immediately in front of Nebamon / Ipuky is represented a special activity: a man weighs gold (in rings) with the help of a weight in the shape of a bull's head. Behind him are piled some of the finished products, ready for final inspection before leaving the workshops. These include a chest, which was probably filled with gold rings or similar small items, and resting on a woven basket are a gold necklace and bowl.
Below this activity, two men present similar items to their master (see ). Some of the items are in front of them, being again that of a chest, which rests on a white stool similar to the one on which the master sits. Above the chest is a scribes stylus box. The foremost man brings his items on a woven tray. The rear-most of the two brings an Isis knot and a djed pillar. It should be noted that the Isis knot is painted in red, its usual colour, because it is appropriate to the blood of the goddess Isis. This man also carries a scarf which probably indicated his status.
This is dedicated to woodworking (see upper part of ).
At the extreme right, a man saws a plank (see and ). The man has been caricaturised, with his stupefied gaze, his baldness and splaying hair. It's a pity that a vandal has cut away his nose (as with many of the others). He is sawing vertically a dark wooden plank. This one is attached by a rope to a post fixed solidly in the ground; the weight which would normally have held them together and which could be adjusted, is not represented, so the rope fastening even appears without a knot. Three finished planks of light wood are represented above him. Behind him, seated on a solid stool, a cabinet-maker carves, using an adze, an Isis knot appropriate to the goddess of that name.
On the left side, four craftsmen are occupied shaping some djed pillars, this time associated with Osiris. The two first (on the right) carve, with an adze, the pieces of wood which will form the body of a djed (see the image opposite and for the first man) one in dark wood, the other in a light wood. The two others work with drills on the pillars, having received their transverse bars (see ) : either they are finishing their fixing, or they are drilling some holes to permit the final assembly of the object. Some of the finished pieces (which are shown above the workers) are intended to be incorporated into the structure being produced before them.
In the centre (see ), two workers are assembling the panels of a funerary catafalque, on top of which the deceased will be placed for his journey to the tomb. The man on the left, the older of the two, looks just like the man sawing the plank at the far right of the sub-register (see ). He is placing the Isis knots and djed pillars between shelves, which are held at the other end by his younger work-mate. These were probably held in place by small dowels, hence the older man knocking the shelves with a small mallet. These ornaments were arranged in pairs, less for reasons of beauty, but probably so that they might be read as divine promises of "double stability" and "double protection".
This concerns the working of gold.
The missing fragment, located at the centre of the sub-register, deliberately removed after the time of Davies, deprived todays visitors of the image of a golden sphinx in the process of to be shaped, as well as of the only character named in all these scenes. This was:
"the scribe of [Amon] Pasanesu, also known as Parennefer", who was engraving an inscription on a libation vase, his scribe's material next to him. This missing fragment has not been found (at least to the knowledge of Osirisnet). Fortunately, Davies had created a painted copy of this scene (see section). Again, notice the missing noses.
To the left of the missing fragment, two men sit facing each other, one bold headed (on the right) and the other with either a full head of hair or a beautifully combed wig (see image below left and ).
It appears that the one on the left is holding the lid of a chest which rests on the floor between the legs of the men. At first sight the design between the lid and the box is puzzling, except that it is possible that the artist has rotated the underside and portrayed the pictorial design which actually gives a date to the imagery. It is composed of the two cartouches which include the sovereign's names:
"Amenhotep, Lord of Thebes" and
"Nebmatre". Between the two cartouches is a child, its finger to its mouth, identified as Harpocrate by Davies, which is the Greek name given to the child form of the god Horus. The chest would almost certainly have held jewelry.
His companion holds in each hand (note that the artist has shown his individual fingers) two bluish stones surrounded by a golden circle: they will probably be used to complete the image of Harpocrate, which is currently only shown in outline.
Above the two men are other precious objects which are or will be placed in the chest: a gold necklace inlaid with colourful stones or glass beads, which ends with an open lotus flower framed by two closed buds; also a scarab whose blue body is symmetrical and which holds apart (at its front and rear) a Shen sign of the fullness of the solar cycle, and whose wings are gold and divided into partitions inlaid with colour. The small rectangular "blue blade" remains a mystery. Likewise it is unknown what the flat copper dish contains (the one below appears to be empty) : possibly precious or semiprecious stones. A white scarf rests over the top dish, perhaps embroidered with gold, which would explain its presence here. At top right can be seen the remains (most being lost by the removal of the centre area) of a beautifully decorated gold bowl which included, at each end, the head of bird with, in its beak, a cluster of grapes.
To the right of the missing fragment (see ) can be found two men polishing golden vases. The one on the right has secured his vase (though its neck) to a wooden trestle to assist him in his work. Above the men are some of the finished products: a bowl, a vase and spare stoppers.
Behind the two men, to the right, the artist has tried to portray a furnace (see ) by representing the scene in full action, with waves of heat and smoke. The work of the metallurgist could not have been shown better, with tongs and a long reed hose being used to help him stir the fire.
Located at the bottom of the wall, this has undergone substantial damage, probably due to mud slides carried by the rains (which may be rare, but they are torrential). This has affected the whole width (again see and , but also ).
The left part is again related to metal work (see ). Two men can be seen polishing and hammering out lamp stands or inscribing them down the upright section, which is artistically waisted. One character kneels in front of a small fire, probably heating a piece of copper, by means of a blowpipe, holding it with tongs. It is difficult to know what the man above him is actually doing, possibly manipulating a sheet of copper produced by the man below him.
Next, to the right, a man is seated in front of an unknown black mass on a block, overlooked by the man who stands in front of him.
This is followed by a large group of men operating a large furnace. Four men (two on each side) manipulate the bellows, whilst a fifth man leans closer to the furnace and seems to blow with a reed (why he should do this is difficult to understand when bellows are being used), he also stirs the mass with a rod. Above the group are represented pieces of metal, by their colour they are probably of lead and of copper, indicating the materials being used.
Finally, nearest to the entry of the chamber, are three men working independently (see ). The first man, on the left, holds in his left hand three drills, around which is twisted the cord of the bow which he handles with his right hand. This represents the drilling of pearls, which will be placed in the casket at his feet. This technique has been well studied and has been published by Dennys Stocks (see bibliography on page 6), It can be seen better in which comes from . It is easy to imagine the amount of work necessary to produce these pearls, so often seen in a glance through the displays of museums.
His work-mate, sitting in front of him, is drilling a hole in a block of alabaster (calcite) to transform it into a vase. Finally, the worker to the extreme right is threading pearls (or glass beads) into a necklace, which he rests on the wooden chest in front of his legs.
This is the far right-hand wall on entering the longitudinal chamber. It is divided in two registers of approximately equal height, occupied by scenes of worship; by Nebamon alone in the upper register to a group of gods, but by both Nebamon and Ipuky below, paying homage to their parents (see opposite, and ). It shows various areas of damage both natural and of vandalism, both to the upper and lower registers. In the upper register, some pieces have been returned to their original positions, but this still leaves areas of missing detail, especially in the centre of the lower register, where the figures of the two deceased are missing.
This scene is most unusual for this period. It is rare to find gods represented on the walls of the tombs before Ramesside times, and even then it was always about the great funerary gods (Osiris, Hathor, the Goddess of the west, etc.). Also, they were usually confined in the extremities of the rear longitudinal chamber, or on the walls of the statue niche or on the votive stela wall. This last is absent in TT181 and this register could possibly be here in its place.
On the left are found the Four Children of Horus, seated side by side, with Osiris seated in front of them. All are on large cuboid seats of an archaic style, with side panels of red and blue, with low padded backrests. These rest on a thick reed mat which in turn rests on a slightly sloping platform of lapis blue with a golden surround (these colours are beautifully preserved).
Osiris, the great god of the underworld, is represented in his authoritative conventional form. His flesh is green, the colour of the decaying corpse, but also that of the resurgent vegetation. His body is bound tightly as a red spindle, punctuated by small blue cuffs, from which emerges only his hands, with which holds a was-sceptre, an ankh-cross and also a heqa-crook and nekhakha-flail. On his chin he has the long false beard with a hooked tip, appendage of deified deceased. He wears the atef-crown, formed from the combination of the white crown of Upper Egypt and of two large feathers. The accompanying text identifies him as:
"Osiris, who is the head of the Westerners (= the dead)
, Wennefer (= Osiris reconstituted, complete)
, Lord of Ta-Djeser, the great god, Ruler of all the Living (= the dead)
, who is the head of he Thinite nome and who is at the head of Abydos, (the one) whose forms are numerous in the heavens and on the land.".
Behind him are seated the Four Children of Horus (a is devoted to them). They are rarely represented to the 18th Dynasty, and as in this case, always seated with Osiris. They are: Amsit (with a human head), Hapy (with the head of a monkey), Duamutef (with the head of a falcon) and Qebehsenuef (with the black head of a canine). Each of them grasps a was-sceptre and an ankh-cross (see ).
In front of the gods advances Nebamon, with both arms raised (see opposite and right-hand side of ), whose name has been hammered out from the bottom of the third column. His upper body has also suffered from damage and although part of this area has been restored it is now almost unrecognisable. His legs are still clear, showing that he wore a white kilt which reached down to his knees and over which he wore a longer semitransparent garment. The twelve lines of text above him produce his long speech:
"Giving praise to Osiris, bowing in homage in front of Wennefer, the heir of Geb, the son of Nut, the master of the two horns, the one who wears the Atef crown, the great of transformations in the heavens and on the land, the sovereign for infinite time and [Lord] of all eternity. By the sculptor of the master of the Two Lands, the supervisor of the balance in the Sacred Place, the child of the nursery, [Nebamon]. He says: 'You (sic! I ?)
come in peace [… I have nothing] of that which the Ennead of gods abhor. [I have no] falsity; neither am I, nor have I been, insolent. I did not transgress. [I gave to] the poor who asked for wheat. I accomplished what is good (
for the master of the Ma'at (truth and what is right)
because (I ?)
know that he lives thus. Grant that I am among the favoured ones who bring offerings to your altar, in the midst of your followers, my body is in the land, my Ba in Busiris, and I myself last for the eternity. I have come into your presence, Lords of the eternity, to be with you in the necropolis. I am one of you, my abomination is what I abhor.' ".
Naturally, it is normal to think that part of this is what is usually called "the negative confession" from chapter 125 of the 'Book of Coming Forth by Day' (improperly named the 'Book of the Dead').
The important place given to this worship of Osiris constitutes a subtle reminder of the function exercised by the two chief sculptors in the Secret Place, a major funerary institution of the west bank of Thebes, which (as mentioned) was appropriate to the cycles of death and rebirth.
This has undergone much deterioration, natural in its lower part and man-made at its centre. The whole represents two scenes, almost mirror images, showing Nebamon and Ipuky (at the centre) paying homage to their parents, who are seated at the two extremities. The Nebamon group is on the left, whilst that of Ipuky is on the right. According to Davies, the two deceased were dressed in feline skins and acted as sem-priests, the reason for which the followers of Aton would have destroyed them.
The two sets of parents are represented as being young and idealised in a conventional manner, but produced with precision and a remarkable skill. In both cases, the two wear a wig on which is strangely a large ointment cone. Around each of their necks is a broad colourful necklace of beads, that of the men differing in design to that of their wife. Both men hold in their nearest hand - in an improper way in this context - a beautiful erect bouquet. The only noticeable difference is that the straps, which descend from under the necklaces of the two men, are yellow for Nebamon and white for those of Ipuky. The wives are also dressed alike, with their necklaces of pearls and gold, tripartite wigs and white dresses, which in each case show a naked breast, and of which a flap is folded on their arms. Both women have one hand on the shoulder of their husband, but Nebamon's mother has her right hand on her husband's right arm, whilst the other holds her other hand to her husband's left shoulder.
These are the parents of Nebamon who are being honoured, the seven columns of text above them reads:
"The favoured by Osiris, who controls the beautiful funeral in the necropolis. For the ka of the supervisor of the sculptors in the Sacred Place, Neferhat, justified before [the great god]. His sister, the mistress of the house, Tepu, justified in the necropolis before the great god, the lord of Ta-Djeser.".
In front and over Nebamon, the ten columns of text (which begins in the well known style of "Htp-di-nsw" - "an offering which the king gives" -, seems strange here) :
"A blessing from Osiris of a pure offering; pure, pure (4 times) for the ka of my father and my mother. Pure, pure, oh Osiris Neferhat, justified. Of thousands of breads, of thousands of crocks of beer, of thousands of pieces of meat, of thousands of birds, of thousands of pieces of material, of thousands of pots of ointment and incense, of thousands of offerings of good and pure things, for your Kas. By your son, the chief sculptor in the Sacred Place, Neb[Amon], justified."
This side represents the parents of Ipuky. Here the six columns state:
"Favoured by [Amon], the Osiris, the controller of the craftsmen in the Heri-er-meru temple, the supervisor, Sennetjer, justified (and) his sister, whom he loves, the mistress of the house, Netjermes, justified.".
In front of them, Ipuky proclaims in his seven columns:
"Words spoken: fresh water, wine and milk, of all good and pure things which were in front of Amon, king of the gods. Pure, pure (4 times). For the ka of his father and his mother, by the supervisor in the Sacred Place, supervising the balance of the Lord of the Two Lands, Ipu[ky…].".