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Heartwarming Family Moments: Inherkhau and His Grandchildren

Updated: Jan 23



Details

Object Type: Tomb Painting

Material: Fresco

Date: c. 1186–1149 BC

Period: Dynasty 20, Reign of Ramesses III- Ramesses IV

Findspot: North Wall, Second Chamber, Tomb TT359, Deir el-Medina

Reproduction Number: DP93

Introduction

This reproduction is based on a fresco painted onto the walls of the Tomb of Inherkhau (TT359) at Dier el-Medina in Thebes, dating to Dynasty 20. Inherkhau lived in the worker's village and was a foreman who had particular responsibility for the construction of royal tombs during the reigns of Ramesses III and IV. Despite not being part of the elite, Inherkhau was one of the handful of craftsmen who were able to not only afford two tombs (TT359 and TT299) but also able to employ talented artists to beautifully decorate them with polychromatic frescoes. The rest of the craftsmen at Dier el-Medina had to be content with chapels and chambers with plain whitewashed walls.



This scene shows Inherkhau seated beside his wife Wabet whilst four of their grandchildren play with birds around them. The three girls and a boy are naked with shaved heads and sidelocks of hair, characteristics used in ancient Egyptian art to symbolise youth. The grandchildren are not directly named, and instead referred to by their relationship with their parents, and it’s unclear whether they share their parent’s names.


From left to right they are:

  1. The daughter of his daughter Anuket-ta-nakht.

  2. The son of his son Inherkau.

  3. The daughter of his daughter Baketptah.

  4. The daughter of his daughter Henutwaty.



Grandfather Inherkhau

Grandfather Inherkhau

Inherkhau is wearing a short square beard of the living and is seated facing the (theological) east, the land of the living. He wears sandals on his feet and a white linen gown which balloons out in front, with large pleated sleeves and a triangular pleated apron at the front. He wears a large curly wig which is fringed at the bottom edge but no jewellery. Before him is a stand holding a platter of what could be figs or the fruit of the persea tree. He isn’t named in the hieroglyphs but is in the wider scene this vignette comes from and his grandson at his feet shares his name.


Grandmother Wabet

Grandmother Wabet

Beside Inherkhau and seated on a black lion-footed chair is his wife Wabet, also known as Wab ("the Pure"), who embraces her husband from behind. She is shown barefoot and wearing a similarly opulent gown and earrings made of ivory. Wabet isn’t named in the hieroglyphs, but appears frequently beside her husband throughout the tomb’s decoration, giving us her name and titles. She is referred to by the commonplace title of Mistress of the House,  Chantress of Hathor and Chantress of Amun, which shows that she had a function in the temple of Karnak.


The Grandchildren


Four young children play at the knees of their grandparents. Standing behind Wabet on the far left is a naked girl described as The daughter of his daughter Anuket-ta-nakht. She cradles a young duckling to her chest whilst offering out a speckled pigeon with the other. Like the other children depicted, her head is shaved and her hair is cut into flat locks that lie on the forehead and coiling locks at the back and sides. Like the other girls, she is decorated with jewellery including bracelets, necklaces, anklets and earrings made of ivory discs.


Next comes a young boy identified as The son of his son Inherkhau who stands with his hands on his grandmother’s knees. He is shown completely naked and without jewellery.

Beside him is another girl called The daughter of his daughter Baketptah, who clasps an egg to her chest and holds out a speckled pigeon to the fourth grandchild. As she plays, her grandfather runs his fingers through a lock of her hair, in a surprisingly intimate depiction of family love.


Finally, at the far right is The daughter of his daughter Henutwaty, who sits on the feet of her grandfather Inherkhao and is taking the pigeon being offered by Baketptah’s daughter.


Translation

This translation was provided by the wonderful Reddit scribe u/zsl454 on r/AncientEgyptian in response to my plea for help identifying the damaged hieroglyphics. They identified and located the names in Die Ägyptischen Personennamen by Hermann Ranke, a fantastic resource if you are looking for the spellings of ancient Egyptian names. This reproduction is accurate to what was drawn on the wall by the ancient artists, but you can this that this style is a less formal shorthand style of depicting hieroglyphs when compared to the ‘standard’ way shown below.

 

From left to right:

Columns 1 & 2 - The daughter of his daughter Anuket-ta-nakht, True of Voice.

Column 3 - The son of his son Inherkhau.

Column 4 - He says: [give] the fledgling to me!

Column 5 - The daughter of his daughter Baketptah, True of Voice.

Column 6 - The daughter of his daughter Henutwaty, True of Voice.


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