Tomb of Nebamun
The Tomb of Nebamun is the source of some of the most famous surviving ancient Egyptian polychrome tomb-painting scenes.
This scene depicts Nebamun standing on a small boat, fishing and fowling in the marshes of the Nile with fish shown beneath the water-line.
His wife stands behind him, portrayed on a smaller scale, and his daughter sits beneath him, holding one of his legs. Nebamun holds a throw-stick in one hand and decoy herons in the other.
His cat is shown catching three birds, and many other birds are depicted flying away after being startled from the papyrus-thicket. This Tomb-Painting is one of the most significant paintings from ancient Egypt to have survived.
Nebamun was an official scribe and grain counter at the temple complex in Thebes. His Tomb was located in the Theban Necropolis situated on the west bank of the Nile at Thebes (present-day Luxor), in Egypt.
The tomb’s plastered walls were richly decorated with fresco paintings, depicting Nebamun’s life and activities.
The tomb was discovered in 1820 by Yanni d’Athanasi, who was acting as an agent for the British Consul-General. The workmen hacked out the fresco painted pieces with knives, saws, and crowbars. D’Athanasi later died without ever revealing the tomb’s exact location.
Nebamun was a middle-ranking official, who’s role was as scribe and grain accountant about 3,300 years ago in ancient Egypt. He worked at the vast temple complex near Thebes, where the state-god Amun was worshipped.
Nebamun’s name is translated as “My Lord is Amun.” His association with the temple, coupled with the importance of grain supplies to Egypt, meant that he was a person of considerable status, though not of the highest rank, in Egyptian society.
A fresco from the tomb of Nebamun
Although the exact location of that tomb is now lost, most of the wall paintings from the tomb were acquired by the British Museum. They are regarded as amongst the museum’s greatest treasures.
Facts about the Tomb of Nebamun
- These paintings once decorated the tomb-chapel of Nebamun. They were intended to impress and entertain Nebamun’s friends and family, who would visit the chapel to pray for him and ensure his place in the afterlife.
- A pair of naked female dancers, their fingers interlaced, entertain the guests at a banquet.
- A flute player looks out from the painting; her hair seems to be swaying to the music.
- In 1821 ten paintings from the Tomb of Nebamun were purchased by the British Museum. The eleventh painting was acquired in 1823.
- In 1835′ D’Athanasi the discoverer and excavator fell out with the museum over his finder’s fee. He then refused to divulge the precise position of the tomb. He died without revealing the exact location.
- The paintings were placed on display to the public In 1835 at the British Museum.
- The paintings were removed several times, of their safety during the first and second world wars.
- Archaeologists have searched in vain for the tomb of Nebamun and any treasures that it may still contain.
Tomb of Nebamun
- Artifact: Tomb of Nebamun
- Date: 1350 BC
- Culture: 18th Dynasty
- Culture: Ancient Egypt
- Find Spot: Tomb of Nebamun, Thebes, Egypt
- Materials: Plaster
- Acquisition: 1821
- Dimensions: H: 98 cm W: 115 cm
- Museum: The British Museum
Nebamum’s tomb chapel Thebes 1350 BC
Explore the Collections of the British Museum
Ancient Egypt and Sudan Collection
- The Rosetta Stone
- The Battlefield Palette 3100 BC
- Quartzite Head of the Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep III
- Colossal Granite Statue of Amenhotep III
- Hunters Palette
- Tomb of Nebamun
- Younger Memnon (Ramesses II)
Hunting scene from the tomb-chapel of Nebamun
The Middle East Collection
Ancient Greece and Rome Collection
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- Bronze Statue of a Youth
- Thalia, Muse of Comedy
- Nereid Monument
- Sarcophagus of Seianti Hanunia Tlesnasa
The Fowling Scene and Musicians and Dancers from the Tomb of Nebamum
The Britain, Europe, and Prehistory Collection
- Ain Sakhri Lovers
- The Sutton Hoo Ship Burial
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The WALL PAINTINGS of NEBAMUN’S Tomb Chapel
The Asian Collection
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- Nandi – Figure of the Humped Bull of Śiva
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Egyptian Life and Death: the Tomb-chapel of Nebamun – Audio Only
The Africa, Oceania and the Americas Collection
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“Know the world in yourself. Never look for yourself in the world, for this would be to project your illusion.”
– Egyptian Proverbs
Photo Credit: 1) British Museum [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons