Theban Tombs Publication Project

Report on the Physical Condition and Texts
of the Tomb of Rây, Theban Tomb No. 72

Peter A. Piccione
© 1992. All rights reserved.

Scheduled at the annual conference of the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE) held in Seattle, Washington, in April 1992 (unpresented!).

For the last two seasons, the Theban Tombs Publication Project, sponsored by the Serapis Research Institute, has been engaged in Western Thebes on archaeological and epigraphical research in the tombs of Rây (TT 72), First Prophet of Amun, and his father, Ahmose (TT 121), Second Prophet of Tuthmosis III. The scope of this project includes a preliminary survey of their architecture and documentation of their wall decoration and hieroglyphic inscriptions.

The tomb of Ahmose dates to the reign of King Tuthmosis III, while that of Rây was built and decorated under the reign of King Amenhotep II. They are located at the top of Gebel Sheikh abd el-Qurna, overlooking the village of Qurna and the Assasif, where they are situated on opposite sides of the upper tomb of Senenmut (TT 71).

The tomb of Rây is unique among all private tombs in Thebes, since with its system of colonnades, terraces, and inter-connecting ramps, it emulates the style of a royal terrace-temple of the period, such as the temples of Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis III at Deir el-Bahari and the mortuary temple of Tuthmosis III at Gurna. The architectural style of the tomb probably relates to the fact that Rây was high priest in the two latter temples of Tuthmosis III.

Rây was an important individual who held high priestly titles in at least five temples and cults in Western Thebes, including: the mortuary temple of Tuthmosis III, the Eighteenth Dynasty Temple at Medinet Habu, Tuthmosis III's temple at Deir el-Bahari, and the mortuary temple of Amenhotep I and Ahmose-Nefertari. Collated texts inside his tomb reveal the corrected names of his brothers, who also hold the titles of First Prophet of Amun in other Theban temples. Historical analysis suggests that this family of priests was closely tied to the Tuthmosid royal family, and it held most of the key sacerdotal positions in Western Thebes at this time. This paper deals specifically with the tomb of Rây, its unique architectural design, its condition, contents and the patterns of its decoration. It will also explore some of the historical questions posed by the evidence.

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