During excavation work carried out by a Japanese team from Waseda University in Tokyo on the forecourt of the tomb of an official of the pharaoh Amenhotep III named Userhat, a new tomb from the Ramesside period has been uncovered.
The tomb is beautifully decorated with coloured scenes and belongs to the royal scribe Khonsu.
Jiro Kondo, head of the Japanese mission, described the discovery as “important” because it raises hopes that more tombs could be discovered in the Al-Khokha necropolis on the west bank of the Nile at Luxor.
It had earlier been thought that no more tombs would be found as innumerable tombs have already been discovered in the area over the past 200 years.
Kondo told Al-Ahram Weekly that the tomb had been accidently uncovered during clearing of the area above the forecourt of the Userhat tomb, where a hole was located in the northern surface of the bedrock. After entering the hole, excavators realised that it was connected to the south wall of the transverse hall of the previously unknown tomb of Khonsu.
Ramesside-era scribal tomb in the Al-Khokha area of Luxor
The new tomb has a T-shaped plan on an east-west axis, and the main entrance faces to the east where it is currently covered with debris. From the entrance to the rear wall of the inner chamber of the tomb, it measures approximately 4.6m in length, while the transverse hall measures approximately 5.5m in width.
Kondo said the newly discovered tomb had very beautiful wall paintings depicting the deceased in different positions before deities and with his family, but regretfully these were not in a good state of conservation.
He said that on the north wall of the entrance doorway a scene depicting the solar boat of the god Ra-Atum being worshipped by four baboons in the pose of adoration had been found, while adjacent hieroglyphic texts inscribed vertically had also been uncovered.
These said that Khonsu was a “renowned scribe”, Kondo said.
On the southern part of the eastern wall of the transverse hall of the tomb Khonsu and his wife are shown in a scene worshipping the gods Osiris and Isis in a kiosk. “Behind Khonsu and his wife are depictions of two ram-headed deities, probably Khnum or Khnum-Re,” Kondo said.
He added that on the northern part of the eastern wall of the transverse hall the seated figures of the gods Osiris and Isis were depicted in the upper register, but the upper part of their bodies was broken. In the lower register of the same wall, a portion of the paintings show the colleagues of the tomb’s owners.
“Most of the wall paintings have been lost from the western wall of the transverse hall,” Kondo said, adding that on the southern wall where the hole was found there were vertical inscriptions near the ceiling giving Khonsu’s title as a royal scribe.
The frieze pattern near the ceiling shows a typical frieze type of the Ramesside period.
“The inner chamber is blocked with piles of sands and blocks, but excavation during the next archaeological season will reveal more,” Kondo said, adding that more wall paintings could be found in the inner chamber.