Putting together what belongs together: the tomb group of Istemkheb (G10) from TT 414

One of the main aims of the current Ankh-Hor Project is to reconstruct the original tomb groups of the persons buried in TT 414. Much progress was made in the 2022 season already, and the last days were extremely productive in this respect.

Our conservator Antje Zygalski finished the consolidation of a beautiful painted wooden inner anthropoid coffin (Reg. No. 657), the sistrum player of Amun, Isetemkheb. I managed to identify new joints to the previously registered pieces and together with new infrared photos (Fig. 1), we have now a rich data set for a detailed study of this fragmented coffin.

Fig. 1: Example of details from the fragmented coffin lid Reg. No. 657, now visible thanks to infrared photos.

The lady Isetemkheb was labelled as G10 by Elfriede Reiser-Haslauer in the genealogical register (Reiser-Haslauer 1982, 268). Thanks to the names of her parents, several objects can be attributed to her:

  • A beautiful and unusual Ptah-Sokar-Osiris statue – its pedestal is Reg. No. 695 and still here in Egypt, the statue was in Paris (Louvre N 670) and is now in Warsaw Inv.No. 143346 (Lipinska 2008)
  • A colourful painted canopic box in London (BM EA 8532, see Budka, Mekis & Bruwier 2013)
  • A gilded hypocephalus in Paris (Louvre N 3524, Mekis 2020, No. 1, 148-149)
  • A Book of the Dead papyus in Turin (cat.no. 1793, TM 57048)

Together with the inner coffin, this makes a substantial tomb group which finds close parallels with other 30th Dynasty/early Ptolemaic burial assemblages from the tomb of Ankh-Hor (Budka, Mekis & Bruwier 2013). The fact that her objects are distributed throughout European museums is also something we already know very well from other tombs groups from TT 414.

What I find especially remarkable are close parallels between the inner coffin, in particular the front panel of the foot part of the lid, and the pedestal of the Ptah-Sokar-Osiris statue (Fig. 2). This allows us to speculate that both objects were produced in the same workshop.

Fig. 2: A comparision between the foot part of the lid of the coffin of Isetemkheb and one side of her pedestal for the Ptah-Sokar-Osiris statue now in Warsaw.

The inner anthropoid coffin of Isetemkheb is in many respects remarkable – although the bier scene with the mummy is only partly preserved, it is very likely that we have another so-called Lamentation coffin (see Kucharek and Coenen 2021). Directly next to the bier on its left side, part of the speech of Isis is preserved, the typical phrase come to your house, “mj r pr=k”.

Coffin Reg. No. 657 is one of the eleven colourful painted coffins found in the debris in the burial chamber of Ankh-Hor. Here, a group of six female inner anthropoid coffins is especially noteworthy (Reg. Nos. 656, 657, 658, 659, 661 and 696). According to its design and colour scheme as well as the execution of its hieroglyphs, the coffin of Isetemkheb is very similar to the Reg. Nos. 656 and 658 as well as Reg. No. 655 of a male owner. These parallels seem relevant for dating the coffin as I will outline below.

After all these general comments on her tomb group, there is of course one essential question: who was this sistrum player Isetemkheb? This remained unclear for many years, no relatives other than her parents were known and her connection to the priestly family using TT 414 in early Ptolemaic times was mysterious. Back in 2017, Tamás Mekis and I proposed to identify her as the previously unknown wife of Wah-ib-Re I, the famous owner of the in situ burial in Room 10 of TT 414 (Budka and Mekis 2017). Tamás included an updated family tree of her and her husband in his PhD thesis, making it clear that Isetemkheb G11 of Elfriede Reiser-Haslauer is identical with our Isetemkheb G10 (Mekis 2020, 150). We can now reconstruct three of her sons and several descendants of these.

Although I still believe that this identification of Isetemkheb as the wife of Wah-ib-Re I is correct and built on strong evidence, a new look on her coffin raises several questions. This coffin is completely different from the coffin assemblage of her husband; rather, it finds a particular close parallel in the inner coffin of one of the nephews of her husband, Padias, Reg. No. 655 (Fig. 3). Could this imply that she survived Wah-ib-Re I for almost one generation? Could this maybe also explain why she was not buried in the same compartment?

Fig. 3: Comparison of the shoulder part of the lid of Isetemkheb with the one of Padias.

All in all, some of these questions might remain impossible to answer – but our new reassessment of the finds from TT 414 allows us to address them and to think further about the complexity of the reuse of the tomb of Ankh-Hor by the large Padiamunnebnesuttaui family.


Budka and Mekis 2017 = J. Budka and T. Mekis, The Family of Wah-ib-re I (TT 414) from Thebes, Ä&L 27 (2017), 219–239.

Budka, Mekis and Bruwier 2013 = J. Budka, T. Mekis and M.-C. Bruwier, Reuse of Saite temple tombs in the Assasif during the early Ptolemaic Time, Ä&L 22/23 (2013), 209–251.

Kucharek and Coenen 2021 = A. Kucharek and M. Coenen 2021. The Lamentations of Isis and Nephthys. Fragmentary Osirian papyri, Part I (The Carlsberg Papyri 16, CNI Publications 46). Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press 2021.

Lipinska 2008 = J. Lipinska, An Unusual Wooden Statuette of Osiris, in S.H. D’Auria (ed.) Servant of Mut. Studies in Honor of Richard A. Fazzini (Probleme der Ägyptologie 28): 166–169. Leiden/Boston: Brill 2008.

Mekis 2020 = T. Mekis, The hypocephalus: an ancient Egyptian funerary amulet. Archaeopress Egyptology 25. Oxford: Archaeopress 2020.

Reiser-Haslauer 1982 = E. Reiser-Haslauer, IX. Genealogisches Register, 267–284, in: M. Bietak and E. Reiser-Haslauer, Das Grab des Anch-Hor, Obersthofmeister der Gottesgemahlin Nitokris, Band II. Mit Beiträgen von Joachim Boessneck, Angela von den Driesch, Jan Quaegebeur, Helga Liese-Kleiber und Helmut Schlichtherle und Relief- und Fundzeichnungen von Heinz Satzinger, UZK 5, Vienna 1982.

Totenbuchprojekt Bonn, TM 57048, <totenbuch.awk.nrw.de/objekt/tm57048>.



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