Tomb of Horemheb (KV 57)

Tomb in Luxor

Horemheb was Tutankhamun's general, who succeeded Ay, Tutankhamun's briefly reigning tutor. His tomb has beautiful decoration that shows the first use of bas-relief in the valley. This was also the first time the Book of Gates was used to decorate a tomb in the burial chamber. Some 128m long and very steep, this was also the first tomb to run straight and not have a right-angle bend. Horemheb, who was not of royal birth, ruled for 28 years and restored the cult of Amun.

This tomb was discovered filled with ransacked pieces of the royal funerary equipment, including a number of wooden figurines that were taken to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Horemheb (1323–1295 BC) brought stability after the turmoil of Akhenaten’s reign. He had already built a lavish tomb in Saqqara, but abandoned it for this tomb. The various stages of decoration in the burial chamber give a fascinating glimpse into the process of tomb decoration.

From the entrance, a steep flight of steps and an equally steep passage lead to a well shaft decorated with superb figures of Horemheb before the gods. Notice Hathor’s blue-and-black striped wig and the lotus crown of the young god Nefertum, all executed against a grey-blue background. The six-pillared burial chamber, decorated with part of the Book of Gates, remains partially unfinished, showing how the decoration was applied by following a grid system in red ink over which the figures were drawn in black prior to their carving and painting. The pharaoh’s empty red-granite sarcophagus carved with protective figures of goddesses with outstretched wings remains in the tomb; his mummy is missing.