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Tomb of Nebamun


Tomb of Nebamun

The Tomb of Nebamun is the source of some of the most famous ancient Egyptian polychrome tomb-painting scenes. This scene shows Nebamun standing on a small boat, fishing and fowling in the marshes of the Nile with fish are shown beneath the water-line. His wife stands behind him depicted 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 painting is one of the most significant pictures from ancient Egypt to have survived.

Nebamun was an official scribe and grain counter at the temple complex in Thebes. His Tomb was 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 in Egypt. 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.

Three-thousand-year-old ancient Egyptian paintings have survived in tombs, and sometimes temples, because of Egypt’s arid climate. The paintings were made with the intent of making a pleasant afterlife for the deceased. The themes included the journey through the afterworld and introductions and recommendations of the deceased to the gods of the underworld. Some tomb paintings, like this painting, show activities that Nebamun enjoyed when he was alive and wished to carry on doing for eternity.

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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