Kenherkhepshef lived at the village of Deir el-Medina, and was the official scribe of the tomb beginning
at least in year 40 of Ramesses II and continuing down to year 1 of Siptah (around years 1239-1193
BC). It is now generally accepted that he was an adoptive son of scribe Ramose and his wife Mutemwia,
who adopted him as an orphan or as a pupil to succeed Ramose in his job (Davies,1996,103).
Kenherkhepshef's job was to keep the attendance register of the workers who were employed in the
construction of the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings. His comfortable seat, by the workmen's rest
huts on the pass between the village and the valley, can still be seen. It is inscribed with his name to
prevent anyone else from using it. Surviving documents show that Kenherkhepshef used men of the gang
to do private work for him during official hours. He tried to use his office to get the workmen to do the
work without payment. He was also accused of bribery on two occasions.
The page was last modified on January 31st 2013
1. Davies, Benedict G.: Who's who at Deir el-Medina : a prosopographic
study of the royal workmen's community
Leiden : Nederlands Instituut voor Her Nabije Oosten, 1999
2. Davis, Benedict G.: Genealogies and personality characteristics of the
workmen in the Deir el-Medina community during the Ramesside period.
Thesis submitted in accordance with the requirements of the University of
Liverpool for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
Liverpool : University of Liverpool, February 1996.
3. The British Museum gallery labels.
The arrow points towards
the spot within the
settlement's cemetery,
where Kenherkhepshef's
papyri were found.
Kenherkhepshef inhabited the largest, most centrally placed hut in the settlement at the top of
the cliffs. Unlike the other
huts, it had three rooms. Each room was paved with slabs of
limestone. It could have been used as Kenherkhepshef's office, where he handled the records of
the work at the royal tomb and wrote his letters to the officers of the administration.
Considerable doubt continues about the location of his tomb. Tomb no 1126 situated in the
southern end of the cemetery in Deir el-Medina. A double seated statue of Kenherkhepshef and
his wife was discovered in the chapel flanking the doorway leading into the inner room.
Shabti of Kenherkhepshef
From Deir el-Medina
19th Dynasty, around 1210 BC
Shabti figures of the New Kingdom (about 1550-1070 BC) were
often made of stone, with paint used to give the servant figures
a lifelike appearance. This shabti is a particularly fine example.
The heavy wig, with gold bands at the ends, rests over an
elaborate and colourful collar. The red-brown colour of the face
indicates that the figure is male. Ancient Egyptian women were
usually depicted with paler skin, implying that they did not have
to go out and work in the harsh sunlight.
The white on the shabti's arms and lower body show that the
figure is mummified, identifying it with the god Osiris, who is
also shown with his arms crossed over his chest. While the god
holds the crook and flail symbolizing kingship, the shabti holds
two hoes, denoting agricultural labour. Shabti figures were
intended to work on behalf of the deceased in the Afterlife,
activated by a spell. Here the shabti spell is skilfully painted in
horizontal lines of black around the figure. The hieroglyphic text
begins with Kenherkhepshef's name and title, 'Scribe in the Place
of Truth' (the royal necropolis (cemetery).
Height: 29.3 cm
Width: 8.7 cm
Depth: 5.3 cm
Headrest of Kenherkhepshef
British Museum EA 63783
From Deir el-Medina
19th Dynasty, around 1225 BC
The limestone funerary headrest is
decorated with figures of Bes. The
god's terrifying appearance and
the snakes and a spear that he is
waving were intended to drive
away night demons.
Height: 18.8 cm
Width: 23 cm
Depth: 9.7 cm
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Rock shrine
The text on this page was written by Lenka Peacock
Photography © Lenka and Andy Peacock