(i) The Amarna Rock Tombs of Huya and Meryre II

PROFESSOR Redford, who does not agree that a scene and inscription in the tomb of Huya, steward to Queen Tiye, at Amarna is evidence that Amenhotep III was alive and in Amarna after the second half of Akhenaten’s Year 8, quotes Norman de Garis Davies, whose book The Rock Tombs of El Amarna was published by the Egypt Exploration Society of London in 1905, as having also rejected this scene as evidence of a coregency. This is not strictly accurate. Davies preferred not to accept the idea for three reasons – the fact that Tiye and Baketaten are shown separated from Amen-hotep III; the fact that the uplifted hands of Tiye and Baketaten imply an unusual measure of reverence, suggesting that the king was dead; and the fact that Akhenaten’s name precedes that of his father in the accompanying inscription on the jamb of the door. Davies commented: ‘But for this and the difficulty of reconciling the situation with other records, this equipoise of the two royal households would have suggested a coregency of the two kings even at this late date in Akhenaten’s reign.’1

The points raised by Davies are not, in fact, serious objections to a coregency. There are two explanations for the form the scenes take, one historical, the other artistic. Huya was Queen Tiye’s steward, appointed to his position by her son, Akhenaten, and had no direct relationship with her husband, Amenhotep III. If Tiye was shown sitting by her husband she would have been a minor character, in his shadow, as Nefertiti is shown in the shadow of Akhenaten: by separating her from her husband, Huya gave his mistress enhanced importance. The artistic explanation is that in Egyptian tombs and temples we usually find two similar scenes or inscriptions, coming from left and right to meet in the jamb or centre of the door. In the Huya scenes, three female attendants have been added to the Amenhotep III scene to make up for the fact that there is-only one princess depicted, not four, and the uplifted hands of Tiye and Baketaten balance the gestures of Akhenaten’s two elder daughters in the opposite scene, where they are shown waving their fans towards their parents. There is nothing in the scene depicting Amenhotep III, who sits under the rays of the Aten, waving a hand to his family, to suggest that he was dead at the time.

As for the inscription, although he was ill in his latter years, Amenhotep III remained the senior partner in the coregency until the day he died. In the normal course of events, one would expect his name to precede that of his coregent son – but not at Akhetaten. Here, in the domain of the Aten, the name of the Aten’s only son and prophet, Akhenaten, had to come first.

Redford goes on to argue, as we saw earlier, that, as Tiye is shown alone on the outer wall of the hall in question, Amenhotep III must have already been dead when construction of the tomb began: ‘Presumably, if the decoration of the tomb kept pace with its excavation, the scenes in the first hall showing Tiye alone would have been carved before the lintel jambs.’2 A detailed analysis of the whole hall of Huya’s tomb, as well as the neighbouring tomb of Meryre II, makes it clear, however, that the walls were not decorated in the order that Redford assumes, and, in addition, that their decoration provides further evidence pointing to a coregency of twelve years.

South Wall: This is the wall near the entrance to the first hall. On the right of the door is a banquet scene featuring Tiye, entitled ‘King’s mother, Great King’s Wife’; Akhenaten, Nefertiti and two of their daughters (only the name of the eldest, Merytaten is found); and Tiye’s daughter, Baketaten, identified by the inscription ‘the King’s daugher, begotten and beloved by him, Baketaten’. This is the first time the princess was depicted. The rays of the Aten extend from the top centre of the scene. To the left of the doorway we find a scene of an evening entertainment which has the same shape and includes the same characters except in the case of Nefertiti’s two daughters, who seem here to be a younger couple. The rays of the Aten are missing from this evening scene and have been replaced by cartouches of the God and the king.

East Wall: Here there is a picture of Tiye visiting an Aten temple called ‘the Sunshade’, which can either be part of the main temple of the Aten or a separate temple built specially for her visit. Inside the temple, Akhenaten is seen holding his mother’s hand and leading her affectionately towards an interior building. Aten shines on the royal pair as well as on the building towards which they are proceeding. They are preceded by Huya and followed by the young princess, Baketaten, who holds three gifts for the altar and has two nurses to watch over her.

West Wall: This features a unique scene bearing the following inscription: ‘Year 12, the second month of Winter, day 8. Life to the Father, the double Ruler, Re-Aten, who gives life for ever and ever! The King of South and North Neferkheprure and the Queen Nefertiti, living for ever and ever, made a public appearance on the great palanquin of gold to receive the tribute of Kharu (Palestine/Syria) and Kush (Nubia), the West and the East; all the countries collected (gathered) at one time, and the islands in the heart of the sea, bringing offerings to the King (when he was) on the great throne of Akhenaten for receiving the imposts of every land, granting them the breath of life.’3

Akhenaten and Nefertiti are depicted, borne in the State palanquin on the shoulders of a dozen carriers. At least four of their daughters follow behind the chair. At its side walk officials, servants and military personnel. Davies noted that in Huya’s tomb and a later version of the same day’s events in the neighbouring tomb of Meryre II some of the troops carried a hooked staff and commented: ‘As the curved staff is a Bedawi weapon, according to Wilson (Sir J. Gardiner Wilson, an early British Egyptologist of the last century), we probably have here the troops who have escorted the embassies into Egypt.’4 What Davies meant was that these bedouin troops, whom Akhenaten had entrusted with the task of guarding his guests and him personally, could have come from the desert borders of the Eastern Delta and Sinai – that is, the Shasu.

While Huya’s tomb shows only the procession on the occasion of the Tribute of the Nations, the next stage of the celebrations, after the royal family, including all six princesses, had arrived at the open pavilion, is depicted on the East Wall of Meryre II’s tomb – with an inscription that suggests a different reason for the gathering. The inscription reads: ‘Year [12, second month of the winter season, day 8] of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt… Akhenaten, great in his duration, and the great wife of the King, his beloved, Nefertiti, living for ever and ever. His Majesty appeared on the throne of the Divine and Sovereign Father, the Aten, who lives on Truth, and the chiefs of all lands brought the tribute.’5 The implication of the Meryre II inscription, which has a bearing on whether or not there was a coregency, is that the chiefs of all the lands brought their tribute because Akhenaten had inherited the throne as sole ruler. But to return to the tomb of Huya …

North Wall: On either side of the lintel scenes described earlier are two almost identical scenes, representing Huya’s appointment to his offices. To the left of the hall doorway, which leads to the inner tomb, we see Akhenaten and Nefertiti leaning from the decorated loggia of the palace to present collars of gold to Huya, who stands below them. Behind the royal pair are two of their younger daughters and nurses, watching the event. To the right of the doorway we have the king and queen again with their two elder daughters. Thus, as in the case of the opposite wall, near the entrance, we have four princesses represented, the younger two to the left, the elder two on the right. As in the former scene, Huya stands below the king and is shown with his neck laden with gold collars and both arms covered to the elbow with gold armbands. A further scene below contains a tiny picture showing a sculptor – ‘the overseer of sculptors of the great royal wife Tiye, Auta’ – at work in his studio, putting the final touches to a statue of Baketaten, the daughter of his mistress, who is represented as a young girl.

The only dated scene is on the West Wall, depicting the celebrations of Year 12, although the appearance in this tomb of only the late form of the Aten’s name suggests that the tomb should be dated after the second half of Year 8. However, there are other means by which we can arrive at approximate dates. Four daughters are shown on the South and North Walls of the hall to Huya’s tomb: six daughters are shown in the Year 12 celebrations depicted on the East Wall of Meryre II’s neighbouring tomb. It is therefore safe to say that, because of the presence of the two additional princesses in the latter tomb, the West Wall of Huya’s hall, showing the same scenes of celebration, must have been decorated at least two years after the South and North Walls, which would date them to about Year 10. The East Wall does not show any of Akhenaten’s daughters, but Baketaten, the daughter of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye, is depicted, looking the same age as on the South and North Walls. It is therefore reasonable to deduce that this wall, too, was decorated around Year 10 of Akhenaten with the celebratory scenes on the West Wall following two years or so later.

(ii) The Tomb of Kheruef

Three main points can be made about the tomb of Kheruef:

•  Much of it is unfinished.

•  It has suffered damage in three stages. Initially, as Kheruef seems to have fallen from grace while still working on his tomb, scenes and inscriptions were erased by his enemies, ‘who chiselled out his figures and the figures of the high officials (or perhaps members of his family) who were accompanying him. They chiselled out also the texts referring to his activities or biography and in most cases his names and titles … intending to wipe out all memory of him.

‘The second mutilation is more important for us because it was made by the agents of Amenhotep IV, in all probability at the beginning of his movement before it became extreme. The walls of the tomb are covered with prayers to the different deities, but none of these has been touched except Amun. The cartouches of Amen-hotep III and Amenhotep IV both contained the word “Amun”, but it was never removed, although the agents chiselled out carefully the name of the same deity in an adjacent line. Another word was chiselled out carefully wherever it occurred … the word “gods”, which for the worshippers of the Aten was a symbol for polytheism.’1

A third type of destruction is evident, as noted by Labib Habachi,2 where the figures of Amenhotep IV were also erased, which in this case has to be the work of his enemies from Horemheb to the Ramesside kings of the Nineteenth Dynasty. The fact that the tomb was not completed and that the first mutilation did not come from Akhenaten’s followers indicates that Kheruef fell from favour while the old king was still alive and then, at a later stage, came Akhenaten’s followers to erase Amun’s name.

•  The tomb provides us with two dates. One scene in the first court depicts Kheruef offering gifts to Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye on the occasion of the Pharaoh’s first jubilee in Year 30: another shows him performing a similar task in Year 36 on the occasion of the king’s third and last jubilee. The work in the first court is, however, unfinished.

Who was Kheruef? The main source of information about his titles and positions is the tomb, in which we find him described as ‘Hereditary Prince and Governor’, ‘Royal Scribe’ and ‘Steward of the great royal wife Tiye’. Nothing in the tomb relates him directly or indirectly to Akhenaten: he is the Steward of Tiye, appointed to this position by her husband, Amenhotep III. The fact that Akhenaten is shown in this tomb with his father therefore has to be explained away by those who do not accept a coregency. The course they have chosen, without the slightest shred of evidence, is to claim that, after the death of Amenhotep III, Kheruef was appointed by the new king to continue for a while in his post.

As we have seen, the only two dates we have in this tomb are Year 30 and Year 36. Thus we can safely assume that decoration of the tomb started some time after Year 30. But when did it cease? Redford himself has noted: ‘This enormous hypogeum (underground chamber) displays decoration on only a few walls, and there is good evidence that the work had halted abruptly, perhaps on the fall from favour or the death of Kheruef.’3 It is clear that the façade area – the corridor with the libation scene and the lintel of the doorway, where there is a further cartouche of Akhenaten, who is also depicted in scenes with his mother, Queen Tiye – is virtually complete, the exception being the North Wall which has red lines intended to guide the artist in his work. If, as Redford and other opponents of the coregency claim, work on the tomb stopped after Amenhotep III’s death, during the sole rule of his son, how does one explain that it is the son’s scenes that are virtually complete while those belonging to his father were still unfinished?

The only reasonable conclusion is that Amenhotep IV was shown in Kheruef’s tomb, adoring his father on the occasion of the old king’s first jubilee in Year 30. Kheruef continued to work for Queen Tiye until just after Year 36 when he fell from favour and was dismissed from office. His enemies then tried to wipe out all traces of him and, not much later, the Atenists also destroyed the name of the god Amun. What confirms this as the correct sequence of events is the fact that, as we saw earlier, Akhenaten did appoint another official, Huya, to take the place of Kheruef. If the coregency between the two kings lasted for twelve years, then Year 37 of Amenhotep III, when Kheruef fell from favour, coincided with Year 10 of Akhenaten, in which year, as we saw from Huya’s tomb, Akhenaten appointed this official to the post of steward to Queen Tiye.

(iii) The Year of Tribute

Aldred has argued that the celebrations of Akhenaten’s Year 12, represented in the Amarna tombs of Huya and Meryre II, show the king receiving gifts on his accession to sole rule.1 This seems likely. There was no war campaign in foreign countries that would account for such tribute and, if it were simply the regular yearly tribute, it is difficult to imagine all the foreign nations involved gathering in Amarna at the same time. Furthermore, this is the only time such an event is to be found depicted in the Amarna tombs. Redford is justified, however, in rejecting Aldred’s attempt to generalize the conclusion so as to imply that all such tribute scenes in Eighteenth Dynasty tombs must be taken to represent a coronation celebration, or that this event in Amarna coincided with the appointing of new officials or their reappointment.

(iv) The Tomb of Ramose

Here Amenhotep IV appears in a tomb that belongs to the reign of his father, Amenhotep III, whose name is found in the tomb. Ramose was mayor of Thebes and a vizier of Upper Egypt. Aldred accepted the Ramose tomb as evidence of a coregency: Redford does not. In other cases where the two kings are represented together in tombs, he has argued that Amenhotep III should be regarded as already dead: here he accepts that he is mentioned as alive, but takes the view that Amenhotep IV was not represented in the tomb until after the old king’s death. Redford makes the point that one of Ramose’s relatives and a Minister of Recruitment for Amenhotep III – the son of Habu whose name was also Amenhotep – is shown among the dead in a scene on the East Wall of the transverse hall. As he and some of the others depicted in this necropolis scene are known to have died before and around Year 34 of Amenhotep III, Redford rightly says the scene cannot be dated earlier than that year, but he goes on to argue that decoration of the whole tomb did not start before that date: ‘Ramose must have survived the thirty-fourth year of his sovereign, and in all probability a decade more … the tomb presents a strong case against any coregency of Amenhotep III with Akhenaten.’ This view cannot, however, be supported by the evidence.

Ramose’s positions as mayor and vizier are known from his tomb. In addition, he had his name inscribed on the rocks of Sehel and Bigeh in the region of the First Cataract in Upper Egypt, the southern limit of his jurisdiction. There he paid reverence to the cartouches of Amenhotep III and the local gods. This, then, establishes that he had been appointed to his position by Amenhotep III. The inscription is not dated, which means we do not know when he was appointed, but Aldred has pointed out that dockets found at the remains of the Malkata palace complex of Amenhotep III at Western Thebes showed that the vizier Ramose donated four jars of ale for the first jubilee of the king in his Year 30.1 It must therefore have been around Year 30 that Ramose’s tomb was started because it was mainly the king’s high officials who donated gifts on these occasions.

Both sides of the entrance to the tomb are decorated with the usual scenes of sacrifice to the solar deities and gods of burial. In one scene on the East Wall, in which Ramose is accompanied by officials, the text reads: ‘The making of an oblation of all things good and pure [to] Amun-Re, king of the gods, [to] Re-Harakhti, [to] Atum, to Khepera … [Ramose … says “I give praise to Re-Harakhti] when he dawns, that he may cause me to be among his followers and that my soul may rest in the evening boat day by day.’ ” In a sub-scene three men singers are chanting: ‘The two lands of Horus acclaim Amun on the great throne when he shines forth as Amun-Re … May he prolong the years of Neb-Maat-Re (Amen-hotep III), to whom life is given … O mayor-vizier Ramose. Thy lord, Amun-Re rewards thee in thy abode of the living. All the gods of the west rejoice because of thee, in that thou makest a ritual offering to Amun-Re-Harakhti; to Atum, lord of On (Heliopolis) … to Osiris-Khentiamenti; to Hat-Hor, regent of the necropolis; to Anubis… and to all the gods of the underworld.’ As we can see, the name of Amenhotep III is mentioned in this section, Amun is still king of the gods, many of whose names occur, but at the same time special importance is given to Re-Harakhti, the name Akhenaten bestowed on his God in the very early days.

The East Wall also bears the necropolis scene, featuring son of Habu. Although Amenhotep III is not mentioned specifically, it is evident that he was still the king as all the other figures depicted in the scene are royal officials who died before him, but the inscriptions introduce a new, and strange, expression in a quotation attributed to Ramose: ‘I had a serviceable spirit, doing justice for the king of my time. I was rewarded for it by my god (the king).’ Another scene on this wall represents the meal-of-the-dead rites, as well as the ceremony of using sacred oils and ointments, and Osiris – one of the gods abolished by Akhenaten – and the Osiris Ramose (the dead Ramose) are the subject of the inscriptions.

The upper half of the South Wall is taken up by funeral scenes, in which Ramose is shown as already dead. On the West Wall, following the Theban custom of showing the reigning king on both sides of the inner doorway, we have a king shown. The cartouche on one side, bearing the nomen of the king, is erased, but his praenomen (or coronation name), Amenhotep, is well preserved. It is followed by Akhenaten’s epithet, ‘great in his duration’, confirming that it is Amenhotep IV who is here represented as the reigning king. The young king is shown in the old artistic style and looks exactly like his father in face and form.

There are, in addition, two figures of Ramose. The first shows him carrying a stout staff, terminating in the crowned ram’s head of Amun, and the text reads: ‘Said by the mayor-vizier Ramose: “For thy ka (soul), a bouquet of thy father [Amun Re, Lord] of the Thrones of Egypt, President of Karnak. May he praise thee … May he overthrow thy enemies … while thou art firmly established on the throne of Horus.” ‘ The king’s enemies mentioned here would normally have been foreigners who attacked the borders of the country, but Akhenaten is known not to have fought a war, especially in his early years. As the reference here is followed by the wish that the king should be established on the throne, the enemies in this case could only have been those who opposed his appointment as king.

The text of Ramose’s speech accompanying the second figure reads: Tor thy ka, a bouquet of thy father, the living Re-Harakhti, who rejoices on the horizon … the brightness of which is Aten.’ The style of the work as well as the representation of the new God, ‘Re-Harakhti … the brightness of which is Aten’, indicates a very early period in Akhenaten’s reign. The disc of the sun is shown in its early form while Amun is still represented as the king’s father, ‘Lord of the Thrones of Egypt’. The early period is also confirmed by the absence of Queen Nefertiti, who is always seen later accompanying her husband.

Davies describes, however, the dramatic change in style when Amenhotep IV is depicted on the opposite side of the doorway: ‘The contrast which this wall presents to that on the other side of the doorway is an epitome of the most striking episode in Egyptian history, when the seemingly indissoluble continuity of Egyptian traditions was broken through with a suddenness which better knowledge of the movements of thought and political outlook might discount, but which none the less gives a fully revolutionary character to the change. Three or four years seem to have sufficed to bring into outward being that for which one would have proposed a century of preparation at least.’

The author goes on to describe the scene: ‘Physiognomies, pose, royal dress, palace, architecture, foreigners, wear unfamiliar modes; even the sun-disk with its guardian cobra has a different angle of appearance. Nor is the change superficial. The attitude of the king to supernatural powers has altered; the sun reaches down to earth and temple insignia have disappeared. His relations to his people, too, are more intimate; he no longer sits on the throne like an imposing automaton. The place and manner of his appearance are different, and every figure and group in front of him has acquired greater vitality. Dignity and decorative symbolism may be diminished, but they have been broken down by a new sensitiveness and warmth of feeling … Egypt had awaked one morning, it would seem, to find the gods in full retreat, the sun shining, the king at the palace window, and the populace dancing in the streets … The Aten had been “found”.’2

Amenhotep IV and Queen Nefertiti are shown, for the first time, in what later became known as the Amarna style of art, appearing in the window of the palace that seems to have been the young king’s building in his father’s Malkata complex. The sun disc, with extended rays ending in hands, the new symbol of the Aten, shines from the top centre of the picture, presenting the key of life to the nostrils of the royal pair. The Aten names, like those of a king, are placed within two cartouches and, added to the God’s cartouches, is a royal salute: ‘May Aten live, rich in festival periods, lord of heaven and earth, within Gem-pa-aten in the temple of Aten.’ This indicates that the Aten temple at Luxor had already been built and the king’s sed festival celebrated. All the cartouches of the king, queen and the Aten, except that including the name Amenhotep, have been largely defaced in the aftermath of the fall of Amarna, and the faces of the royal pair have been chipped off. The text gives the king’s speech to Ramose, who stands beneath the window: ‘[Said by] the king of Upper Egypt, living on truth … Amenhotep … to … the mayor-vizier Ramose: “… the matters I put in thy charge … which I have commanded. All that existed … the kings since the time of the God.”’

To which Ramose replies: ‘May [the] Aten [do] according to that which thou hast commanded … thy monuments shall be as lasting as heaven and thy life as long as (that of) Aten in it. May thy monuments increase like the increase of heaven. Thou art unique … The mountains present to thee what they have kept hidden; for thy loud voice gains on their hearts even as thy loud voice gains on the hearts of men; they obey thee even as men obey.’3

The upper half of the wall depicts Ramose being honoured by the king in a series of scenes, one of which shows him loaded with so many collars of gold beads that his neck cannot accommodate all of them. Other than in the name of Amenhotep, the word ‘Amun’ does not appear on this wall.

Nothing remains of the tomb façade except a scrap of Ramose’s figure at the foot of the left jamb. However, on the thickness of the rock frontage of the tomb Ramose is shown ‘entering (the tomb) with the favours of the good god (the king, Amenhotep III or Amenhotep IV?) to rest in …’ and small fragments have been found bearing the inscriptions ‘… appearing as truth’ … and again the curious expression ‘the king of my time’.4

The burial section of the tomb is not inscribed, but the internal side of the door is decorated in fine relief. On one side Ramose offers separate prayers, one to the king and the second to the gods of the underworld. The prayer to the king reads: ‘I come in peace to my tomb with the favour of the good god (the king, Amenhotep III or Amenhotep IV?). I did what was approved by the king of my time (?), for I neither minimized the substance of what he enjoined, nor did I commit any offence against the people in order that I might rest in my sepulchre on the great right-hand (the western part) of Thebes.’

Although the Ramose tomb is not dated, the available evidence enables us to arrive at four dates, two for Amenhotep III and two for his son, Amenhotep IV. As Ramose had already been appointed to his posts as mayor and vizier before Year 30 of this king, we should expect work to have started on his tomb around that time, and as son of Habu is shown, already dead, in one of the scenes, and he died around Year 34, this scene has to be dated not long after that year of the old king.

In the case of Amenhotep IV, the scenes on either side of the doorway leading to the inner burial section are distinctly different in style and can be dated to different periods of his reign.

The first scene represents the king in the old style. Early in his reign Akhenaten was shown, in the sandstone quarry at Gebel Silsilah in Nubia, worshipping Amun-Re. The inscription below records his quarrying of sandstone for the ‘great ben-ben (temple) of Harakhti at Karnak’. The king describes himself as ‘first prophet of Re-Harakhti’. It is clear that this inscription at Silsilah refers to the Re-Harakhti temple at Karnak and, as the panel also shows Amen-hotep IV worshipping Amun, it can hardly be dated to later than his first or second year because the Re-Harakhti temple was begun very early in his reign.

The second scene, on the opposite side of the doorway, is in the new Amarna art style, the first time we find it in a tomb before the Amarna rock tombs, dated to Year 8 or Year 9 of Akhenaten. The new symbol of the Aten has already appeared; the God is now named Aten instead of Re-Harakhti, and he is placed in two cartouches. No mention is made in this scene of Amun. Akhenaten’s temple at Karnak is referred to. There is also a reference to Akhenaten’s jubilee, celebrated in his Year 4.

Such a presentation would not have been possible before Amen-hotep IV’s very last days at Thebes, a short time before, in the eighth month of Year 6, he notified his change of name from Amenhotep IV to Akhenaten on a boundary stela at Amarna. This scene should therefore be assigned to his late Year 5 or early Year 6.

Some further light on the dating of the Ramose’s tomb can be derived from considering who donated it. Although it is true that Amenhotep III appointed Ramose to his posts as mayor and vizier, it seems to me for several reasons to have been Amenhotep IV who gave Ramose his tomb:

•  Amenhotep III’s name appears only once, near the entrance of the tomb, using his praenomen, Neb-Maat-Re, in a prayer of Ramose to Amun-Re that he ‘may prolong the years of Neb-Maat-Re’. This suggests that this king was already suffering from some illness which, from a letter by Tushratta and Ushter’s arrival in Egypt, could be dated about Year 36 (see Chapter Eight);

•  In contrast, it is Amenhotep IV who is shown in the special position on either side of the inner doorway that was used during the Eighteenth Dynasty for scenes of the ruling king”: had the old king been the donor of the tomb, Ramose would have shown him on at least one side of the doorway;

•  The strange – and, as far as I know, unique – reference to a sovereign by an official as ‘the king of my time’ can possibly be better understood if interpreted as meaning ‘my master’, who gave me my tomb and ordered me to carry out some work for him, and does seem to mean Akhenaten rather than his father. Although it was Amenhotep III who appointed him to the posts of mayor and vizier, Ramose was responsible for some construction work on Akhenaten’s temples at Karnak and Luxor;

•  The fact that Ramose apologizes for carrying out the orders of ‘the king of my time’ suggests something unusual about both the king and the nature of the orders, which can only be a reference to Akhenaten. Ramose tries to deny that he obeyed the king’s orders simply in order to obtain his tomb at Western Thebes. This protest would not have been necessary had Amenhotep III been the donor of the tomb;

•  The fragment found at the façade bore the text ‘… appearing as (in) truth’, which is an epithet of Akhenaten’s.

It was Akhenaten, then, who gave Ramose his tomb and that is why he is represented in it, as well as his father. In fact we see the young king rewarding the vizier with too much gold for fulfilling his orders, which appear to relate to the construction of his new temples for Re-Harakhti at Karnak and for the Aten at Luxor.

The association of Amun-Re with Re-Harakhti in this tomb represents a very early stage of Akhenaten’s inscriptions as Re-Harakhti was the name he gave his God initially. In almost every scene, whether near the entrance or inside, Re-Harakhti is associated with Amun whenever the latter god appears. This is true of what Redford chooses to describe as the early scenes – those near the entrance, followed by the funeral scenes – as well as the last ones. The association of Amun and Harakhti, in fact, represents the association of Amenhotep III and his son in a coregency.

Ramose, contrary to common belief among scholars, was never converted to Atenism. He is never shown worshipping Akhenaten’s God. All the usual gods are represented in his tomb, even in the very last scene on the reverse of the doorway into the inner burial section. This has to be regarded as later than the Amarna-style scenes as it is always the most remote scene, sometimes including the latest information about the dead man, added after his death. Yet here he still has the same loyalty to the other gods and sticks to the old style, indicating that the tomb was completed after Akhenaten had already left Thebes. Ramose himself did not follow Akhenaten to Amarna, but remained in Thebes as Amenhotep III’s mayor and vizier until the time of his own or the old king’s death.

(v) The Tushratta Letters

Tushratta first appeared on the scene before the dispatch of the four letters that form part of the coregency debate. He sent a letter to Amenhotep III telling him that, despite an internal power struggle, he had succeeded in securing the throne after the death of his father, Shutarna. He reminded Pharaoh of the friendly relations between him and Shutarna and also took the opportunity to make the point that his sister, Gilukhipa, was one of Pharaoh’s wives. In addition, he mentioned an attack on his country by the Hittites, whom he had destroyed completely. Out of the resulting bounty, he enclosed a present for Amenhotep III. This letter is not dated, but it is thought to have arrived about Year 30 of Amenhotep III.

The second letter we have from him indicates that Amenhotep III wished to increase the relationship between the two families by also marrying Tushratta’s daughter, Tadukhipa. Tushratta then sent a messenger to Egypt with a third letter, demanding gold in return for his daughter’s hand in marriage. This matter appears to have been resolved amicably as a fourth letter seems to have arrived at the same time as the bride-to-be, Tadukhipa. Finally, before Amenhotep III’s death, came a fifth letter, dated by an Egyptian docket to ‘Year 36, fourth month of Winter’, which was accompanied by an image of the Mitannian goddess Ishtar. The implication is that Amenhotep III was already ill and it was hoped that Ishtar might cure him. However, Mitannian magic does not appear to have worked and the king became less and less active until his eventual death early in his Year 39.

After that date came the four letters – one addressed to Queen Tiye, the other three to Akhenaten – which form part of the coregency debate. A fuller account of their contents follows in the order in which I believe they arrived.

No. EA27 (addressed to Akhenaten): This first letter to Akhenaten dwells upon the gold issue. The Mitannian king complains: ‘Your father … wrote … in his letter, at the time when Mani (the Egyptian messenger) brought the price for a wife …: These implements, which I now send you, are (still) nothing … when my brother gives the wife, whom I desire, and they bring her to me, so that I see her, then I will send you ten times more than these. And golden images … an image for me and a second one as image for Tadukhipa, my daughter, I desired from your father …

‘Your father said: “… I will give you also lapis lazuli, and very much other gold besides (and) implements without number, I will give you together with the images.” And the gold for the images, my messengers … have seen with their own eyes. Your father also had the images cast in the presence of my messengers and made them complete, and full weight… And he showed very much other gold, without measure, which he was about to send me, and spoke to my messenger saying: “Behold the images and behold very much gold and implements without number, which I am about to send to my brother, and look upon it with your own eyes.” And my messengers saw it with their own eyes. And now, my brother, you did not send (these) … images … but you have sent some that were made of wood with Mani.’1

The letter makes the point that, if Akhenaten has any doubts about the truth concerning the promised gold, he should ‘ask his mother’.

No. EA26 (addressed to the queen): The text begins: ‘To Tiye, the Queen of Egypt… Tushratta, King of Mitanni. May it be well with you; may it be well with your son; may it be well with Tadukhipa [my daughter], your bride.’2 Subsequently, Tushratta goes on to complain: ‘The present, which your husband commanded to be brought, you have not sent me; and gold statues … Now, however, Napkhuriya (Akhenaten), your [son] … has made (them) of wood.’3

No. EA29 (addressed to Akhenaten): After delving even more deeply into the history of the friendly relations between the two royal families in order to persuade the new king to continue them and to send the promised gold, the letter invites him again to seek confirmation from his mother that Tushratta is speaking the truth: ‘From the days of my youth, Nimmuriya (Amenhotep III), your father, wrote to me of friendship … Tiye, the distinguished wife of Nimmuriya, the loved one, your mother, she knows them all. Ask Tiye, your mother … And when Nimmuriya, your father, sent to me and wanted my daughter, I would not consent to give her … And I sent Khamashshi, my brother’s messenger, to Nimmuriya, to pay the dowry, inside three months … And finally, I gave my daughter. And when he brought her and Nimmuriya, your father, saw her … he rejoiced very greatly … Tiye, your mother, knows what I said, and Tiye, your mother, ask her if among the words which I said there was one that was not true … therefore I made request for images … and Nimmuriya said to my messenger: “Behold, the golden images altogether, which my brother requests.” … And when my brother Nimmuriya died … I wept on that day (when the messenger came with the news); I remained sitting, food and drink I did not enjoy that day, and I mourned …

‘When Napkhuriya (Akhenaten), the distinguished son of Nimmu-riya by his distinguished wife Tiye, entered upon his reign I spoke saying: “Nimmuriya is not dead.” … [Now my brother] when he formerly wrote to me, at the time when he sent Giliya back (with the news of Amenhotep III’s death and a letter from Tiye) … he sent Mani, my brother sent only wooden (statues), but gold [he did not send] … Pirizzi and Puipri I sent to express sympathy (they brought the letter dated Year 2 or Year 12: see Chapter Eight) … Now the word, which your mother had said to Giliya, [I heard and therefore] … and the images [of gold] … for which I made request you have not given me … my messengers for four years …

‘The images which I requested from your father, give; and now [when I have sent] my messengers for the second time [if he] does not prepare and give [them], he will grieve my heart … Your mother Tiye knows all about these things, and (therefore) ask your mother Tiye … [Now my brother said:] “Giliya ought to return to him. Because I should otherwise grieve my brother’s heart, I will send Giliya back.” [However, I said]: “Inasmuch as I have sent back quickly my brother’s messengers, so let my brother always my messengers [send back quickly] … gives me word and sends Mani to me, then I will … Giliya, with friendly intentions, to my brother.’4

From this letter it is clear that the messenger Mani is in Egypt because Tushratta is asking for him to be despatched with the gold. In Letter No. EA28, however, we learn that he is not only in Mitanni, but being held hostage against the return of two of Tushratta’s messengers. After the usual initial friendly formalities, Tushratta comes straight to the point: ‘Pirizzi and Puipri, my messengers, I sent them to my brother at the beginning of his reign, and ordered them to express sorrow very strongly. And then I sent them again. And this message, on the former occasion, I gave to my brother:’ – this letter is now missing – ‘Mani, the messenger of my brother, I will retain until my brother sends my messenger, and until he arrives… Now, however, my brother has in general not allowed them to go and has retained them very much indeed.’5

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