|Irynefer's tomb no 290
at Deir el-Medina
|The tomb lies at the far end of the Western cemetery and shares the forecourt with the earlier
tomb of Nu and Nakht-Min TT 291. It consists of the entrance, antechamber and the burial chamber.
The tomb owner was Irynefer, a necropolis workman of the Ramesside Period. He lived in the village in
the 19th dynasty during the early part of Ramesses II's reign. His title was the "Servant in the
Place of Truth".
|The entrance to the tomb was identified by Bernard Bruyère during the season of
Bruyère's drawing of the exact position of the tomb and its surroundings can be found
in his manuscript MS 2004 0144 017, dated Januray 31st 1923, which was digitised
by IFAO. It marks the outline of the tomb and numbers it as 290:
|The tomb belongs to the most interesting corpus of the Ramesside tombs due to its beautifully decorated
vaulted burial chamber. A short passage leads to the burial chamber. It is decorated with hieroglyphs and
with a lying jackal Anubis, who looks towards the tomb entrance. The brick vault of the burial chamber
was plastered and decorated with colourful scenes and inscriptions providing us with the names and titles
of family members. The background to the scenes was painted yellow.
The scenes include illustrations from different spells of the Book of the Dead, images of funerary
divinities, demons and manifestations of the deceased's ba and his shadow.
|Another, later, plan dated February 9th 1923 comes from Bruyère's manuscript
MS 2004 0144 027 and shows the name of AriNefer with a question mark:
|Bruyère's dig diary MS_2004_0144_018 from January 27th 1923 mentions excavations in the
Northern area of the Western necropolis, where a large court with 2 tomb entrances was discovered.
Each entrance had a shaft in front of it. Bruyère suggested that P1 (on his plan) could be entrance into
Irynefer's (AriNefer) tomb. Fragments of several ancient Egyptian objects and a lamp from Christian
times were found in this area.
|To view more photos of the inside of the tomb, follow the link to Claudia Ali and Ali Na'im's web site at
In the summer of 2010 Irynefer's tomb was briefly opened to visitors; by autumn 2010 it was closed
again. In the middle of December 2011 the tomb opened while Sennedjem's TT1 closed. Jane Akshar
described her visit to the tomb on her blog at
Objects from the tomb are scattered around the globe in several museums.
|Just above the arch of the entrance
to the chamber, depiction of
green-skinned winged goddess Nut,
her name indicated by the hieroglyphs
shown above her head, is depicted.
Nut is kneeling in front of Horus and
|The depiction on the southern wall,
which lies towards the left side of
the burial chamber, shows the
mummification of the dead person,
who rests on a bed with lion heads.
Mummification is performed by
Anubis, the jackal-headed god of
|The last wall to be described
within the burial chamber is the
eastern wall. In the lower
register, we see Irynefer standing
in the solar barque worshipping the
phoenix, symbol of the sun god of
Heliopolis. The phoenix in the form
of a grey heron wears the solar
disk, the image of Re and assures
Irynefer of his future rebirth in
the manner of the sun (Germond,
|In the register above, the couple
prays to a young bull-calf standing
in between 2 sycamores, the
sacred trees of Heliopolis,the calf
being a prefiguration of the solar
bull as it moves through the sky
(Germond, 2001, 239).
|Horus with the cow goddess Hesat,
a manifestation of Hathor, on a
reed mat on a pond, are depicted
above the calf scene.
|The following scene extends over
both registers: parents of
Irynefer, their age indicated by
their white hair, pay homage to
Ptah, the patron deity of
craftsmen. Irynefer himself kneels
in the scene in front of Ptah's
throne and offers a figure of the
goddess Ma'at (Hawass, 2009,
|The rear part of the eastern wall is divided into two
registers. The upper register is dominated by an
extraordinary scene: it shows the worshipped god
Ptah standing in front of the enshrined black shadow
of the deceased and two ba-birds. One flies, the
other sits in front of a black sun.
|Above the scene with Osiris the vignette of the unusual
Spell 135 of the Egyptian Book of the Dead is shown.
Although the text of the spell is not present, the depiction
of 5 deities, 7 stars and a disk against a dark background
occurs in 5 other 19th dynasty tombs from Deir el-Medina.
According to David G. Smith, the spell could be a reference
to the flash of the solar corona and to “Bailey’s Beads”,
flashes of light occurring at the precise moment of a total
eclipse (for the source see below bibl. 11, 12).
"Another spell to be said when the moon is new on the first
day of the month. Open, O cloudiness! The bleared Eye of
Re is covered, and Horus proceeds happily every day, even
he the great of shape and weighty of striking-power, who
dispels bleariness of eye with his fiery breath." (Faulkner,
|The lower register of the far side
of the western wall shows Anubis
leading Irynefer to Osiris seated
on his throne.
|Next to the shrine there is a
representation of Irynefer who
worships Horus in the form of a
falcon. Horus holds a flagellum,
the sign of regeneration and
rebirth, which gave the power to
decide on entry into the afterlife.
|On the entrance the visitor faces the western wall
and the frieze described earlier. In the shrine
within the frieze Ma'at and Shu sit on the left.
Before Shu 42 judges of the dead stand (Osiris
presides over them as the 43th judge of the dead).
Here Irynefer swears that he had not committed
any sin from a list of 42 sins (each judge
responsible for 1 sin), and recites a text known as
the "negative confession" from the Book of the
Dead. "... I did not cause the suffering of the
people, nor my relatives.... "
|We turn to the last representation in the
chamber, which is located at the top of
the eastern wall near to the entrance.
The painting is very similar to a scene in
TT3, the tomb of Pashedu: Irynefer is
kneeling before a dom palm tree and
drinking from a pool of fresh water
(Dodson, 2008, 266-269). The
illustration belongs to a spell for "drinking
water in the necropolis" in the Book of
the Dead. The design had to
accommodate 3 different angles of view:
the pool is seen from above, Irynefer is
kneeling on the bank on the far side not
to obscure the water and the tree grows
at the near side of the pool but does not
obscure the kneeling figure
|All the photographs of the interior of the burial chamber are © of Elvira Kronlob 2012 and were taken in
autumn 2012. I am very grateful to her for taking the pictures and for giving me permission to publish
them on our web site.
We will begin the tour of the tomb by looking to the right of the entrance towards the northern wall. In
its centre Irynefer stands with his hands raised in adoration towards a frieze that decorates this wall
and extends over the western wall. It is interspersed with protective symbols and hieroglyphs, where the
baboon is followed by a uraeus, separated from the next one by a feather, symbol of Ma'at (Germond,
|The top register of the northern
wall shows a representation of the
god Khepri sitting in front of the
offering table and a sem priest
standing behind him.
|The right side of the top register
is mostly destroyed. Below the
destroyed scene in the middle
register Irynefer kneels before
Osiris and two gatekeepers.
|To view and browse the digitised version of The Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic
Texts, Statues, Reliefs and Paintings, (also known as Porter & Moss or TopBib) for this tomb, go to
Material for the Bibliography is gathered from an ever-expanding range of multi-lingual sources,
encompassing both specialist and semi-popular Egyptological and Near Eastern publications, periodicals,
museum guides, exhibition and auction catalogues, together with the growing wealth of web resources. The
Bibliography also analyses a range of unpublished manuscripts, including those housed in the Griffith
Institute Archive. Published in May 2014 by the Griffith Institute, University of Oxford, the volumes are
constantly revised and augmented.