Journal: Saturday 7 November 1998
On Saturday morning, Kit and I were up early for a brief visit to the Qurna tombs of Rekhmire and Sennefer trying to beat the tourists who usually arrive there a little later in the day. Not that the tombs at Sheikh ‘Abd el-Qurna are ever really busy. I had an idea that the village children might be in school this morning, but that was not the case. As usual, as soon as we appeared in the village, we were quickly surrounded by ragged children of all ages, asking for sweets, pens and baksheesh. They can be very persistent and I would have rather avoided them this morning.
In an effort to shake off our young escort, we climbed up the dusty track to the top of the hill and the tomb of Sennefer (TT96) in the upper enclosure, also known as the ‘Tomb of the Vines’ for its beautiful painted grape-covered ceiling. This tomb, which I had visited several times before, is deep in the ground with many steep steps, but the paintings inside the tomb-chapel are exquisite. Sennefer was a Mayor of Thebes during the reign of Amenhotep II, an important nobleman of the period, but his tomb, nestling just below the peak of el-Qurn, is beautifully simple in its construction and decoration compared to the tombs of the later New Kingdom.
A little way down the slope from Sennefer’s tomb is the tomb of Rekhmire (TT100), whose titles were ‘Vizier’ and ‘Governor of the Town’ during the reign of Tuthmose III and Amenhotep II. It is very different to Sennefer’s tomb both in its more traditional T-shaped construction and its decoration. Oddly enough, a burial chamber was never found and it is thought that Rekhmire himself may have been buried elsewhere. In a long dark passage with high sloping roof, there are some rather unique and excellently preserved paintings, giving a wealth of detail about the local crafts and industries of the time, including the sculpting of two colossal statues. One of my favourite scenes is high up on the wall, part of the funeral banquet and features a small servant girl standing behind Rekhmire’s mother and shown in back-view – the only known instance of this aspect in ancient Egyptian art.
After visiting the tombs we sat on the bench outside Mohammed Snake’s cafe and had a cold drink. My old friend Hamdi, who Robin and I had spent much time with in the Valley of the Kings earlier this year stopped by to say hello as he was passing and stayed to chat for a while. Unfortunately by this time Kit reluctantly admitted to not feeling well, so we made our way straight back to our hotel. Pharaoh’s Revenge had finally caught up with him – could it be because we had entered the Tomb of Tutankhamun a few days ago, with its infamous curse?