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Notes on the Geography of Egypt: Tomb of Rekhmire

John Gardner Wilkinson, father of Egyptology, wrote in 1835 that this tomb, of a vizier of Upper Egypt who was second in command to Thutmes II, was "the most curious, I may say, of all the tombs in Thebes, since it throws more light on the manners and customs of the Egyptians than any hitherto discovered." Rekhmire wrote of himself as follows: there was "nothing of which he was ignorant in heaven, on earth, or in any quarter of the underworld." Not only that, Rekmire claimed that he "managed the vast royal estates, supervised temples, judged court cases, checked irrigation schemes...[and] judged impartially between the pauper and the wealthy. I rescued the weakling from the bully. I warded off the rage of the bad-tempered and I repressed the acts of the covetous.... I gave bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, meat, beer, and clothing to him who had none." Still, he was ultimately disgraced and apparently never buried in the tomb prepared for him. (Quotes from Kent R. Weeks, The Treasures of Luxor, 2005, p. 392-3.)

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Egypt: Tomb of Rekhmire picture 1

The tomb was found in 1831 but not cleared until 1889.

Egypt: Tomb of Rekhmire picture 2

Inside, there's a famous mural showing the precious or curious objects retrieved during the expedition to Punt, modern Eritrea. At the bottom, white-skinned men in white clothes. Presumably they are northerners. No matter. The text declares, "Every land is subject to his majesty."

Egypt: Tomb of Rekhmire picture 3

Beyond the initial room, this corridor extends 82 feet into the hillside, and the ceiling rises from 10 feet to over 26 feet high at its far end. Plenty of wall surface to paint.

Egypt: Tomb of Rekhmire picture 4

Many industries are shown on the left wall. Here, in the center, two men fill jars from a pond. To the right, a worker mixes the water with earth to make mud, carried in baskets on the right. The finished brick is used to build a wall.

Egypt: Tomb of Rekhmire picture 5

Higher on the same wall, there's a portrayal of the storerooms of the Temple of Amun at Karnak. At the lower left, goods are piled before the storeroom entrances. On the right, vases are being sealed and carried.

Egypt: Tomb of Rekhmire picture 6

The topics on the opposite wall are more personal. There's another pond, with a gardener at the upper right who is watering the trees; at left, a priest wafts incense. Rekmire himself is towed across the pond.

Egypt: Tomb of Rekhmire picture 7

Rekmire's funeral banquet. The sexes are segregated.

Egypt: Tomb of Rekhmire picture 8

The women's funeral banquet. A servant pours wine for a lady and returns the empty cup to the black slave behind her.

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